The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions were last night and inductees included Yes(very cool to see Geddy Lee play bass on Roundabout, filling in for the late Chris Squire), ELO, Joan Baez, Tupac, and Pearl Jam. Neil Young was supposed to induct Pearl Jam but couldn’t make it so David Letterman filled in at the last minute. He gave a great speech and in it was this pearl of wisdom:
Never take the opportunity for live music for granted and that’s the message I can bring you folks tonight.
I love that quote. I never take live music for granted. It’s a gift. Thursday night, I had the opportunity to see the Martin Barre band again at the Sportsmen’s Tavern. My friend and neighbor, Bon, was with me once again, as he was for the September show. I’ve been raving about that show ever since. Enough so that I convinced my friend Greg to come this time too and not only that, my lifelong friend and fellow Tull fanatic, Alan L, flew in from Florida to visit with us and see the show.
I first met Al when we were probably 7 or 8 years old, at Camp Sisol. He had a nickname that summer, “ketchup”, which I thought was really cool and that’s all it took to become friends. We didn’t live in the same school district so I didn’t see him again for several years. I met him again a few years later when my sister was dating a guy whose little brother was about my age and lo and behold, the little brother was friends with Al. Then, as fate would have it, we moved, and I ended up in the same school district as Al and a number of other kids that I remembered from that summer camp years earlier. It took a year or two but we started hanging out again and discovered we had quite a bit in common, especially a love of music.
There’s nothing I enjoy talking about more than music. I’m interested to hear how you’re doing, how your kids are, how work is. What I really want to talk with you about though, is what shows you have been to recently and what albums you’ve bought. Al and I have been known to have 4 hour conversations just about music. We would spend entire days driving around Rochester, going from one record store to the next, always on the prowl for some out of print find.
Alan flew into town Thursday afternoon and Thursday night, along with Bon and Greg, we went to see Martin Lancelot Barre and his amazing band at the Sportsmen. The show was probably 90% the same as it was in September. Here’s the setlist, although it’s slightly wrong. They did not play Skating Away this time.
The band was fantastic and featured a new drummer, who absolutely killed it. Although the drummer was not local, his family was in town and at the show, which added to the fun atmosphere. I end up talking to a lot of strangers at shows like this because I’m so rarely surrounded by like minded music fans. I love hearing people’s stories about shows that I was too young to catch myself. We spoke to a woman who came down from Toronto and from the sound of it, goes to many Tull related shows. Like us, she got there around 5:30, thinking she’d get a spot up front. The doors opened at 5 though and the die-hards got there before us. It worked out well for us though because we stood along the wall up top. In “the gallery”, you might even say. I need to stand for a show like this. I like to be able to move around a bit and get into the music much more if I’m standing. Our Toronto friend somehow finagled her way into a seat at a table in the front row.
Martin Barre is 70 years old. How many more times will I get the chance to see him? And Dan Crisp, the vocalist, is an absolute find. I don’t know where Martin found him but he’s the perfect singer for this music and on top of that, is a very good guitarist in his own right. I loved this show. I hope that Greg and Al loved it just as much and I didn’t “oversell” it to them.
Yesterday, I drove Al to Rochester to revisit some of our old haunts. I took him past his old house and our high school. Then we went record shopping because, you know, that’s what we do. Rochester actually has seven independent record stores still going strong. That’s really remarkable in 2017 and a testament to what a cool town Rochester is. We started at my favorite store of the bunch, the mighty Bop Shop. The Bop Shop was at the Village Gate for many years but moved to a strip plaza location on Monroe Avenue five years ago. This was my first time going to the new location and, it being a weekday afternoon, I expected it to be quiet. Not so. The place was jumping! It’s a much bigger store than they used to have and it’s just jam packed with records, books, cd’s, etc. I spent a fair amount of time at the Bop Shop when I was younger, always talking to the owner, Tom, about music. I credit Tom with helping to shape my musical tastes, especially my love of Richard Thompson and Fairport Convention. Of course, I struck up a conversation with Tom and with a couple of his employees and exchanged some personal information with them. They were nice enough to say they’d burn a few things for me which I would never get my hands on otherwise. We talked about RT and Fairport. We talked about Barre. We talked about King Crimson, who is playing the Rochester Jazz Fest in June(front row balcony baby!). We talked about Cropredy. I had to force myself to leave because I didn’t want to monopolise their whole day. I did pick up a great copy of Richard Thompson Live, More or Less, which is long out of print, before I left.
From there, we headed out to Irondequoit and to the Great, Great, House of Guitars(hop hop). Before we did that though, we stopped for lunch at Schaellers. Alan needed his fix of Zweigles and texas sauce(can’t get that in Florida). Regular readers may remember my recent post, An Ode to Texas Sauce. Remember folks, in Rochester, “everything” means mustard, onions, and hot sauce. Don’t believe me? Read the sign.
From that gastronomic heaven, we made our way to the HOG. That place hasn’t changed at all. The back room is an OCD sufferer’s worst nightmare. It’s a freaking mess back there. It was fun to rummage around for awhile though and we both bought HOG shirts, something I’ve always wanted.
From there, we made our way back across town to the Record Archive, only to discover that they moved from Mt. Hope Avenue ten years ago. We found their “new” location though and were amazed by the place. It’s huge, first off. In addition to all of the music, they’re selling all sorts of novelty items, used stereo equipment, and all manner of other things. They have even opened a lounge in the back where they host live music and are now the first record store in town with a liquor license.
Alan flew back home this morning but we had a very full day and a half, catching up with each other’s lives and talking music. Memory is a funny thing. Some things stick with you and other things don’t. At one point, Alan mentioned a show we were at that I don’t remember at all. I apparently saw Doc Watson in concert with Al and a couple of other old friends. It was a free show in the middle of the day and he remembers it was outside. We think it may have been at the Highland Bowl. I have zero memory of this, most likely because back then, I had no idea who Doc Watson was and was not much of a bluegrass fan.
So there you have it., That’s been my last couple of days. Much more fun to write about than politics or the Sabres. We’ll save those depressing thoughts for future posts. Go see live music. Never take that opportunity for granted.