I am still forced to shake my head, as I sit and think about how neglectful I have been... not just to this blog... but to ALL my blogs. It's that darned Facebook. Every time I go to a concert, I'm spending half the evening uploading photographs... crappy videos... you name it. And all the while, this poor music blog sits... gasping for breath. Well, it's time to fix that. Time to get caught up on some of the awesome concerts that I have seen, this summer.

First up.....


I have been attending the Twilight Concert Series for several years, now, and it has become a tradition for my family. At least until now. This year, things changed.... for better, and for worse. The last few seasons have shown an increasing amount of Indie Rock artists, and an ever dwindling amount of Bluegrass/Americana artists. We have seen so many great artists over the years... from legendary Bluegrass/Americana icons like DOC WATSON, EARL SCRUGGS and PETER ROWAN to iconic World music artists like MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD. We would show up an hour before show time, set up some chairs, and just enjoy a relaxing evening of music. A couple years ago, PETER, BJORN & JOHN and MOE. were featured on the line-up. Last year boasted ANDREW BIRD, NEKO CASE and JOSH RITTER. The Indie scene was becoming more noticeable. This year, nearly the entire line-up was Indie related.... from JENNY LEWIS (of RILO KILEY) to IRON & WINE... THE BLACK KEYS to BON IVER...OKKERVIL RIVER to SONIC YOUTH. Thrown into the mix were a couple of bands that I really wanted to see. First was TOOTS & THE MAYTALS, a band that really coined the term "REGGAE", although originally spelled "regay" (or something along those lines). They hail back to the early 60's Jamaican music scene... really peers of the legendary Bob Marley. Due to some other family events, I was unable to attend THAT show.

This last Thursday, we attended one of the finest shows that I have seen, at the Gallivan Center. ROBERT RANDOLPH & THE FAMILY BAND. If you have never heard Robert Randolph, before... well... watch this video clip. This will show you all you need to know.

Fortunately, for us, we were some of the first people to show up at the Gallivan Center, for this concert... even though we were only 25 minutes early. We were able to secure a place front and center, a mere 18 inches back from the barricade. There were only one row of people, in front of us, and they were pretty spread out, so we had a perfect view of the show. Things remained under control for BLACK JOE LEWIS & THE HONEY BEARS, a great Blues/Indie band from Austin, Texas. It wasn't until well into the ROBERT RANDOLPH set, that things really started losing it. Between the inconsiderate weenies that felt they had earned a right to barge their way up to the front, and the ensuing fights that broke out, it really began to cut into the positive feeling of the show. Robert Randolph is one of the most talented people I have ever seen.... and when it comes to pedal-steel guitar? Probably one of the finest on this great planet of ours. He has recorded with Eric Clapton, performed multiple times, alongside some of the greatest Blues guitarists of the last 50 years. And the best part? It truly is a "family band", as it featured a cousin on drums, a cousin on bass guitar, and his little sister on back-up vocalists.

I think my single most enjoyable moment, during Robert Randolph's set, was after 10:00 (when the shows typically end), when crew members on the side of the stage were trying to shut down the concert. We would see hands being waved across throats... the sign that we need to cut it... NOW. Mr. Randolph would have NO part of that. He kept playing... even after the band had left the stage... knowing that the minute he leaves the stage, even with the intention of playing an encore... that show would stop. The band eventually joined him (again), and he continued into another song. Robert Randolph is a man who does not want his party to stop. A former schoolmate of mine, a young lady who know works in the music business, in California, responded to a Facebook comment I had made. She said that a few years back, Robert Randolph made her "see God", with the capable help of the Blind Boys of Alabama. I can't even imagine how that show must have been. Then Robert served Bar-b-que, following the show, and she was invited. THAT shows what kind of person Robert Randolph is. Southern, through and through...

I guess my biggest gripe about the Twilight Concerts, this year, is the crowd. It has all of a sudden become a hip place for drinkers to go... and college/high school kids. I don't mind if any of these folk come out, but they need to show some respect for the people who want to enjoy the music. It is the biggest drawback to going to a "free" concert. There is ALWAYS a price to pay.... and the crowd is THAT price. The way the Gallivan Center is currently situated (next year, it is going through reconstruction and expansion), you have the stage, with a courtyard in front. There is grass (or other artificial coverings) in this space, with steps and grassy areas surrounding it. Then, about a third the way back, there is a beer garden, and patio area, that really tends to divide the area in to two (or more) different plazas. Behind that, there used to be a pond (during the summer... ice rink, during the winter), but that was drained this year, to utilize patio tables. Really, it was just more room for the drinkers to socialize. Once you get beyond the beer garden, the only way you hear the music, is through sound systems set up. Back there, it all about hanging out, drinking, and socializing. Nothing more. Those people don't give a hairy ratt's butt about the music... all they want to do is socialize and drink, where they can be seen. This has really alienated those that are trying to see (and hear) the music. We are crammed down into this grassy area, and with this influx of rowdy college kids (who don't have ANY concert etiquette), it really makes things difficult for those of us long time patrons, who enjoyed coming to these concerts, for some good music, good vibes, and good atmosphere.

I will give next year, one more try.... but if this trend continues, I may just find myself sitting on my balcony, every Thursday evening, during the months of July and August, playing (and hopefully COMPOSING) my OWN music. A place where I am GUARANTEED solitude...