Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Musical Memories

Birth of the Cool: photo by Cliff Hutson
Birth of the Cool: photo by Cliff Hutson

Some months ago, one of my nieces put forth a challenge on Facebook for her friends to list famous musical acts that they had seen live and in person. I demurred at that time as most of the acts fell in the category of "some that I recognized, some that I had hardly even heard of".

But, I really could not let go of the idea, as over my lifetime I have had some memorable experiences.  and, needing a topic for this week's post have come up with a list that I have divided into three categories.


Bud Shank
Charles Lloyd
Don Ellis
Frank Capp
Gearld Wilson (and his orchestra)
Laninie Kazan
Shelly Manne
Sonny Rollins
Willie Bobo

I was in my late teens and early twenties (and still am to some extent) an aficionado of jazz. Many a happy hour was spent listening to the MJQ, Wes Montgomery, and others - who I never saw in person.

But, I did see some truly great acts at Shelly's Manne Hole and The Baked Potato, among other clubs and other more less famous venues. However, the most moving was when Don Ellis, a family friend of one of my college classmates, did a solo performance in a small church in Westwood when my friend and his wife renewed their wedding vows.


Buffalo Springfield
Country Joe and the Fish
Elton John
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
Grateful Dead
Jefferson Airplane
Jimi Hendrix
New Riders of the Purple Sage
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The Turtles

This is presented in a more or less alphabetical order. Although, by chance, the first of these groups that I saw was Buffalo Springfield which gave a free concert at Cal State LA when I was a student. 

I also first saw the Jefferson Airplane for free at an appearance in LA's Griffith Park that was basically just publicized on the underground radio station I listened to at the time. (Perhaps KMET - who can recall.)

Speaking of "I can't recall", I was tempted to add The Doors to this list. But, that is a very hazy memory. However, as someone once said - "If you can remember the sixties, you were not really there.

Oddly, the most disappointing of these performances was by Jimi Hendrix. I say most disappointing as I was a huge fan, and think that I still have everyone of his LPs - including the "Band of Gypsies" stuff which I do not care for, and the controversial UK issue of "Electric Ladyland". But, the night that I saw him at The Fabulous Forum he just did not seem to be even close to his best.


B.B. King
Doc Watson
Joan Baez
John York
k.d. lang and the Reclines
Willie Nelson

Some readers might be surprised by my listing k.d. lang in the Country category. But, I saw her at the world famous Palomino Club when she was touring for the release of  the "Angel with a Lariat" album.  Albeit, she did the first set dressed like Dale Evans and the second in a simple black cocktail dress. Her rendition of "Three Cigarettes in An Ashtray" was unforgettable.

However, the most memorable of these performances was that by Joan Baez - almost fifty years ago, give or take a month or two. That was an afternoon that I shall always treasure.

It just so happens that Willie Nelson, who is listed last is also the last famous act that I saw in person. That was in February 2013 at Pomona College's Bridges Auditorium. And, since I don't get around much anymore, he might be the last.

Anyone else care to share?

Note: The astute reader will notice that this post is headed up by an image of a Miles Davis CD, yet he does does not appear on any list. I never saw him in person, but as this blog os called "Pictures and Words" i felt that I had to include an image and that was the most musical one in my archive.

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