a year of live music

Big Head Todd and the Monsters brought me back to life.

It wasn’t that I was without music.  My house was full of music: songs on the radio, kids singing in the backseat, lullabies while rocking the baby and my own voice, full of song and sound.  It had just been ages since I’d seen a show live.  I didn’t even realize how much I was missing it until that February night at the Paradise in Boston.

The Paradise is a funky, intimate club.  In my memory, everything has an aura of red: the stage lights, the carpet, the chair cushions.  We found a spot along the rail to the left of the stage, crowded, dark, loud.  Big Head Todd and the Monsters have been playing live together for a long time; they are tight onstage.  The man I was with had been doing his best for months to hold me together with kisses while things within me fell apart.  He stood behind me, arms around me.  We danced with the crowd as lyric, melody, bass combined to create that mystery of energy we call music. I closed my eyes. Connected for a moment to these strangers; Big Head Todd the thread tying us together, having fun and grateful for it.  There, in that moment, I came fully into myself for the first time in far too long for memory.

Thus began the year of live music.

Next was Leo Kottke; phenomenally talented on the guitar. A pleasure in itself.  It is his storytelling, though, which blows my mind.  His guitar becomes an extension of his words and wit as he plays and sings and weaves tales I don’t want to end.

Then came Alison Krauss and Robert Plant with T. Bone Burnett, supporting their incredible collaboration. I’d gotten tickets for my son for his eleventh birthday. I love Alison Krauss and live, she is brilliant. It was Robert Plant, though, who made me giddy.  Both Zeppelin fans, my son and I, struck speechless by his version of “When the Levy Breaks”. Well, we just stood dumbfounded throughout the show, disbelieving the chemistry and joy of the whole affair.  After the show my son told me “until my own children are born, seeing Robert Plant will be the highlight of my life”.  The man has still got “it”–that charisma and voice.  Combined with T. Bone and Alison Krauss, “it” was magic, indeed!

I spent that summer going to local shows in Gloucester.  I was in love with a bassist and those shows were less about the music and more about friendship and romance.  We had an awesome party full of music when the guys from Brian Wilson’s band came to visit overnight.  We played a game trying to stump one very talented encyclopedia of music named Probyn and gave up when he busted out a perfect version of “My Pal Foot Foot” by the Shaggs.

I took my best friend to see George Michael that summer.  It was a birthday gift for her, which was really just a gift to myself!  One of my guilty pleasures, George Micheal, creating the backdrop to time spent with one of my favorite people.  George Michael holds nothing back: enormous light show, video, sixteen piece band with six back up singers.  He’s all fun and light.  We danced in our seats and screamed like teenagers.

Then there was Weezer and every moment was nostalgia and present thrill all in one.  Not long after, I spent a fortune for floor seats to the Killers. That was just a party I’d attend every day if I could.

I reconnected with a dear friend who is an incredible singer and songwriter and spent lots of time at local pubs and venues drinking Guinness and singing along. Mercuryhat is the soundtrack to memories of girls’ night out with some of my favorite people; laughter and connection and a platform for loving and being loved exactly as we are.

And I realize that as much as I love creating and hearing and seeing and participating in music, as much as I would wither without it, it is just this which truly brings me to life: the connection. Music as a pathway to time and place, memory and emotion, yes. But also, music itself creating the energy which draws me in with my eyes closed and my heart open; having fun and grateful, tied to the moment, loving and being loved.

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One Comment on “a year of live music”

  1. Jamie Hahn Says:

    Thanks for the reminder that live music is a wonderful thing to keep in your life. I recently missed the chance to see Lyle Lovett in concert (thought the tickets were too expensive), and in hindsight it was a huge mistake. I missed the show and all the connection and in-the-moment amazingness that is live music. I’m definitely going if he comes back next year.

    btw…I was in Gloucester (well, Rockport and Gloucester)twice this summer. I love it there.


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