Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE
This is getting ridiculous. I recently wrote an RIP column for musicians we lost in 2022, then the loss of guitarist Jeff Beck prompted more nostalgia. Now, there’s another reason — David Crosby, the feisty songwriter-singer, recently passed away at 81.
Sure, I’ve got stories. I saw Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young a couple of times. I saw Crosby and Nash one perfectly mellow afternoon in Santa Barbara. Most recently, I saw Crosby at the Boulder Theater and it was a luminous show.
That Crosby show was one of those great “glory nights” of live music when everything works — the band, the sound, and the audience.
While I am writing, another name is added to the RIP list — Tom Verlaine of Television — and it provokes memories of another “glory night”.
That would be a Television show at the famous Roxy nightclub in LA. It was an intense experience, so electric that I convinced my wait person to let me stay for the second set.
Television did not just play songs, but also branched off into jamming — Verlaine and guitarist Richard Lloyd digging in together.
The best was saved for last. The show ended with a very electric version of the Stones’ “Satisfaction”. Verlaine scorched the guitar parts with manic fury, finally unstringing his guitar — while plugged in — for the finale. The intensity was very real and then very over. Even the band just kind of staggered around when the feedback was finished.
I could write many more columns about these “glory nights”.
There’s that night I saw the power and majesty of Led Zeppelin in LA. There’s that first time I witnessed the mad cap rock and soul of Bruce Springsteen. There were buoyant shows by Paul McCartney, mind-tickling encounters with Bob Dylan, top-shelf rock and roll jams with The Rolling Stones, and trips to the edge of music with The Grateful Dead.
I saw Paul Simon’s celebratory Graceland Tour at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Roger Waters at Radio City Music Hall, and Who bassist John Entwistle at the famous Stone Pony club in Asbury Park, New Jersey. I saw Jerry Garcia with Merl Saunders at the Keystone in Berkeley.
And it’s not just about the big-time. I cherish memories of seeing The Jam at a tiny club in Los Angeles — they were so young and powerful. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Puddles Pity Party at the Soiled Dove in Denver.
Let’s include every Richard Thompson show I have ever seen.
Local shows also fit into it too — like Gil Scott Heron’s quintessential nightclub show at Sam’s Old Town Ballroom and Suzanne Vega’s Lincoln Center show that just glowed. I can’t forget the powerful night Edgar Winter and super drummer Carmen Appice played Linden’s. Let’s go ahead and add in the recent rock hard set by Samantha Fish at the Aggie Theatre.
The memories go way back — like the manic intensity of Jethro Tull in 1970. They are also recent — like Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s great potboiler set last summer at Red Rocks.
But don’t get me wrong. These “glory nights” are not what I live for. They are the sweet frosting on the cake of life. As fun as they are, as inspiring as they may be, as intense and exhilarating as they often are, they are the coda to the days in which we live, hopefully in light and love.
But that’s another story.
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