Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hobart / William Smith (hereafter referred to as Hobart or HWS) concerts – Fall of 1971. (Many thanks to Zack Chaikin for the exact dates.)

Sept. 27 Jerry Jeff Walker. I think we paid Jerry Jeff $500 for a solo show in Albright Auditorium (a lecture hall). He played for a long time, getting progressively inebriated to the point of incoherence. Those who were on his plane stayed for the evening. Everyone else eventually left. I inadvertently continued the tradition of starting the year with a drunk folksinger the following year (stay tuned).

Oct. 25 Edgar Winter’s White Trash and Grin with Nils Lofgren. The first concert decided on by the entire committee. Edgar's band included Rick Derringer and the late Jerry LaCroix - basically the same band on the Road Work album. They were rough and tumble guys. When Tim Yolen (concert chair) asked Rick how long he'd been on the road, Derringer replied "My entire life." They got paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $2500 and put on a rousing performance. Nils and Grin had gotten a big boost from Nils being on After the Gold Rush. But in concert, as on their records, there was something missing that kept them from going over the top. In 1976 I saw Nils (with some of the same bandmates) in a bar on Lake Erie south of Buffalo. They were on tour in support of Nils's first two albums on A&M (the first is a classic if you've never heard it). A Tuesday night – probably a fill-in date for gas money. They just set up on the floor in the corner and then leveled the place. I was with Kathy Burton (WS '77) and she prevailed upon the committee to bring in Nils a few months later to Bristol Gym (opening act....38 Special). But whatever magic they had night apparently couldn't be duplicated again. Reminds me of something Jerry Garcia once said – that on any given night, any given band could be the best band in the world. Doing it more than once, let alone with any regularity, is the trick...

Oct. 30 Peter Yarrow. I skipped this...probably was off seeing Jethro Tull somewhere. People forget that in the early 70s they were on a level of popularity with Zeppelin and The Who. A band that could be the best band in the world night after night. A tangential story: After I graduated from college in '74 I went to NYC to try to land an entry level job in the music biz. One possibility floated my way was being road manager for Mary Travers. PPand M weren't my cup of tea but they had been a major act and I wondered why such a position might be entrusted to a novice like me. It turned out that no one else would take the gig. Among your supposed duties was to carry a supply of her preferred toilet paper, anticipate whatever facility she might be compelled to use and then rush in and swap out the inferior brand for the good stuff. I passed.

Nov 5 Planned concert with Fleetwood Mac cancelled. This would have been the Bare Trees / Kiln House band. Booking English bands was always more challenging given the tour logistics. I tried to book them a few years later (along with the King Crimson Lark's Tongue In Aspic group) and came up short.

Nov. 5 ( Fall Weekend) Boz Scaggs. For $2750 (or something close to that), we booked Boz as a replacement for the Mac. He was touring in support of the Boz Scaggs and Band album (Boz's first three Columbia albums remain hard to find on CD but are all excellent). He had the full band with horns and they were just great. The only problem was the audience was largely apathetic to the point that even after doing Somebody Loan Me A Dime (how can you not respond to that song???) they didn't get an encore (pencilled in as Dime A Dance Romance from Steve Miller's Sailor album). Afterwards the band was disappointed and to this day that performance had the biggest disconnect between quality (high) and audience reaction (low) that I've witnessed. I recently got a soundboard recording of the band done within a few months of this show and it backs up my memory of how good they were...

Dec. 5 The Kinks and Snake Drive. Chairman Tim was determined to land the Kinks, even if it meant a 4 p.m. Sunday show right before the start of exam week. Which it did. It was a strange atmosphere – people definitely weren't in a party mood with exams looming the next day. But with English bands, you had to fit their schedule and they were playing LeMoyne college in Syracuse the night before. They were touring in support of Muswell Hillbillies and did the exact same (short) set, except we got an encore of one their early hits due to a small group of diehards who wouldn't quit cheering and somehow touched the heart of the otherwise grumpy Ray Davies. It was the last day of their tour and they were probably back in England by the time we started sweating through our first exams...(I have no idea who Snake Drive were - probably a local band - but R.L. Burnside had a song of the same name and there's a killer version of it on the first Panther Burns album with Alex Chilton - there's your Big Star connection for this post, however tentative)


D. Meinzer said...

Hey, Bruce!

We had Edgar Winter & White Trash at Buff State the night before. He opened for B.B. King and was great.

I enjoyed the Radio City book but wondered why you didn't mention the hugh press kit that went out with some copies - biggest one I ever got (through the Buff State student paper). It came in a white folder with the Ardent logo on it and included the record, glossies, bio, a stack of reviews of #1, a complete copy of Fusion Magazine with a card and clip marking a Big Star feature, and typed out lyrics to all the Radio City songs. (I don't have it any more but it has a good home.)

Anyhow, congrats on the book.

Dave Meinzer

awsmd said...

A group of us guys were partying in Geneseo that weekend when we heard The Kinks were playing a small Sunday p.m. gig at Hobart College. We could'nt believe our luck and took lots of photos of Ray and Dave which were almost confiscated by an older gray-haired cockney speaking manager. He believed our story and I still have the pix today. Dave looked like a 15 yr. old and played a wicked encore of "All Day and All of the Night" and the place went nuts. When we got back to Maryland, no one believed us until we showed them the photos. What a weekend!

Bruce Eaton said...

Hey Dave - thanks for the shout. A lot of things got left on the cutting room floor due to space considerations but I probably would have included something about the press kit if I'd been able to put my hands on one. All I could track down is the folder sleeve itself (which is huge). Traded a Chilton @ McVan's poster for one at Shangri-La Records in Memphis...Bruce

awsmd - thanks for the story. I thought the encore was All Day AAOTN but wasn't a 100% on it. Cool story. If you have a way of scanning a few of the pictures and emailing them to me, I'd love to post them on the site (with appropriate credit of course). It was strange to walk out of that show and go immediately to the school cafeteria for dinner before it closed. One minute you're rocking out to a truly legendary band and the next minute you're picking over the dull salad bar under florescent lights.