The year was 1969. I was a 17-year-old high school graduate living and working in Connecticut. I was a babe in the woods when it came to New York City and “Live” rock concerts. My music tastes were forged listening intently to progressive rock radio station WNEW-FM 102.7.
The Fillmore East was the goal I had to experience. Bill Graham’s magic venue was constantly advertised on WNEW which made that passion stronger in my soul.
A fellow Jethro Tull fanatic scored four tickets at $5.50@ for us to see The Jeff Beck Group, Jethro Tull and The Soft White Underbelly perform at The Fillmore East on July 3rd, 1969. I was pumped. I could finally see my first “live” rock concert and it would take place at The Fillmore East! Little did I realize it would be the first of 425+ concerts in the next 46 years I would attend. This concert changed my life from radio station listener to active music participant. I have loved and nurtured the role of concert attendee ever since that day.
Since none of us drove a car, we rode the train from South Norwalk, CT to Grand Central Station. All the way down to the East Village we held a lively debate about our favorite band Jethro Tull and their first album, This Was. We loved to argue competitively which was the best song on the album. My favorite choice was “Serenade to a Cuckoo” by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. I fought for it vehemently as others articulated their favorites. Tull fanatics were we enjoying our obsession!
We took the IRT Lexington Avenue subway line to Astor Place. It was a cool and comfortable July evening in the East Village neighborhood. Our anticipation grew as we approached The Fillmore East venue on 2nd Avenue. The smell of pot and incense filled the air. The sidewalks were crowded with long-haired hippies like us. I was approached several times before we went inside if I had a spare ticket. I never responded and just kept walking. The famous lighted marquee above showed in black letters, July 3 Jeff Beck/Jethro Tull. We surrendered our tickets at the door which the Fillmore usher proceeded to tear in half. He gave us each a program (which I have since lost, sigh) and then he escorted us to our seats under the balcony overhang. He had long hair to the middle of his back and was wearing a Fillmore East green basketball jersey. He used his flashlight to point out our four seats in aisle M. Then he smiled and said, “Enjoy the show.” I thought what a cool job wondering how many great shows had he seen?
The theater was bustling as people milled about. The banter of the crowd was loud and lively. The stage was smaller than I thought it would be. I was fine with that as it added to the intimate nature of the celebration.
Soon the lights went down and Kip Cohen (Managing Director) announced the opening act. “Ladies and Gentleman please give a warm New York City welcome for Soft White Underbelly.” The first act Soft White Underbelly was a local Long Island band. They would evolve to later become Blue Oyster Cult. I was not familiar with this band’s music at all. I loved their raw energy and loud, thrashing guitars. I watched as Light by Pablo set the backdrop for their set with lots of uses of white and grey graphics. At one point I saw an image of the great white whale Moby Dick thrashing in the ocean behind them. I loved witnessing the use of lighting and graphics accented the artist’s music as they played. This art form fascinated me. Soft White Underbelly played a short, 30 minute set and received a nice round of applause for their effort.
We started yelling, “Jethro Tull, Jethro Tull”, repeatedly. The guys in front of us gave us a look of disapproval but we didn’t care. We heard the announcer say, “From England, Jethro Tull”. Next thing you know Ian Anderson and the Jethro Tull band took the stage. Ian was a whirling dervish that night. Silver flute in hand wearing a red checkered bath robe with long suede boots laced all the way up to his knee. He had this wild look in his eyes and he often stood on one foot as he played the flute. Off they went into the first song from This Was, “My Sunday Feeling”.
I was jumping up and down with Tull as they rocked the house. Wow, I was really getting to see my favorite band perform right in front of me. They sounded fantastic, much more dynamic than their album ever conveyed.
We quickly learned that Mick Abrahams, original Tull lead guitarist, had been replaced by Martin Barre. I was disappointed because I loved Abrahams style and wanted to see him play. Martin Barre, as the new Jethro Tull took a bit of getting used to that night. (Martin Barre became a fixture with Jethro Tull for the next four decades.)
We did not know yet that we were about to be treated to several new tracks from their “unreleased” second studio recording, Stand Up.
The lighting for Jethro Tull was a thick, dark, wooded glen. The screen changed into fantastic shades of forest green and blue. I recall the leaves turning bronze and copper which offset the trees smartly.
The song I liked the best from Stand Up was “Fat Man”. It was Ian Anderson seated singing and playing mandolin and Clive Bunker on bongos with bells on his feet staying in time. It was a departure from the songs on This Was. I found the song about being fat enchanting and fun. Ian Anderson’s wry sense of humor came across on these lyrics.
The Fillmore East concert was held on the eve of the Newport Jazz Festival on July 4th. George Wein had decided that Newport Jazz would go Rock that year. Jethro Tull and The Jeff Beck Group along with Led Zeppelin were scheduled to change jazz festival history as part of a transformative lineup in Newport, Rhode Island. Ian Anderson mentioned to the audience how he couldn’t wait to perform with Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Then Jethro Tull played my favorite song, “Serenade to a Cuckoo”. I was enthralled to get my private wish of hearing this song played live answered. Tull justified their place at Newport when they performed this jazz classic.
Their set ended too quickly for us. We yelled and screamed “Tull” as they excitedly vanished to wildly enthusiastic applause.
The Jeff Beck Group headlined The Fillmore East concert. Jeff Beck was a very skillful guitar slinger set against the light show extravaganza. The lighting effect for The Jeff Beck Group was the psychedelic bubble formed in a petri dish on an overhead projector. I was reminded of the cover of Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida as the bubble throbbed and mutated above the band. I was witnessing a member of the Yardbirds. How cool was that?
Rod Stewart was vocalist extraordinaire for Jeff Beck. He was the dandy with a long scarf that he threw about his neck as he strutted the stage like a peacock. He was very tall and the women were taken with him. He was the sex symbol we would later read about in the seventies. I loved his gravelly voice.
The Jeff Beck Group also featured Ron Wood (Small Faces, Rolling Stones) on bass guitar and Tony Newman on drums. They tore the roof off The Fillmore East venue that night.
After the concert we walked back to the subway stop, making a pit stop at Gramophone a record shop where I purchased Beck-Ola by The Jeff Beck Group. I wanted to become more familiar with the songs I heard them do that evening. I still own that album and play it when the mood strikes me.
Years later I ended up seeing Blue Oyster Cult right up the street from where I live, Jethro Tull six more times (not including the Ian Anderson Rubbing Elbow Tours, which is another story for another day) and Jeff Beck twice at Madison Square Garden.
The Fillmore East – 105 Second Avenue, East Village
The Fillmore East survived just four years. Rock music was moving to the arenas and stadiums. The Fillmore business model could no longer afford to pay the bands who made our music. The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation commemorated The Fillmore East on October 9, 2014 with this plaque.
This film traces Jeff Beck‘s music and career throughout the 1960s – his formative influences and early groups, his work with The Yardbirds, his brief, bizarre reinvention by producer Mickie Most as a solo pop star, and the first, radical incarnation of the Jeff Beck Group, during which he played alongside vocalist Rod Stewart and second guitarist Ron Wood. Featuring a plethora of rare performance and studio footage, exclusive interviews, contributions from those who worked with and alongside Jeff during this period and a host of other features, all of which combine to make this documentary – the first yet to singularly focus on Beck’s career – a legitimate tribute and enthralling history of this often underrated musician, writer and performer.
I have been fortunate to experience rock music artists performing with a full symphony on stage with them. The collaboration of strings, brass, woodwinds and tympani set against rock has been extraordinary. The two concert moments that transfigured the music of our heart were Yes in 2001 (captured on DVD as Yes Symphonic Live) and Jeff Beck in 2010 performing with a symphony group, Nessun Dorma by Puccini, it is an aria from the opera Turandot.
Which leads me to Kitaro, who I have yet to see live in concert. Kitaro is #1 on my list of must see concerts. I’m beginning to think I will have to travel elsewhere in the world to see him perform but I am perfectly willing to do so, 🙂
Recorded Live at the Halic Congress Center in Istanbul, Turkey over two evenings in March of 2014, Grammy and Golden Globe winning artist Kitaro’s “Symphony Live In Istanbul” is breathtaking. The album features new musical material while also including eight of the acclaimed artist’s most requested and popular compositions.
This amazing performance marks Kitaro’s first-ever recording for the Domo Music Group balancing the artists trademark signature sound and expanding it to new heights with the addition of a full live symphony orchestra.
Kitaro noted “In 1980, I began composing and producing music about the passageway and excursions of the Silk Road. This past spring, I embarked upon my first Symphonic Tour that reached Russia, Eastern and Central Europe and had the distinct pleasure of performing in Istanbul; a place where from ancient times to modern times, has flourished as an important hub of the Silk Road where Europe and Asia meet.”
Wishing I could be in Oakland, California at Yoshi’s tomorrow evening September 5th to attend the pre-release party for Tarpan Record’s owner and consummate artist, Narada Michael Walden‘s album. Thunder 2013. Know that I am there in spirit. My enthusiasm goes out to my friend Steffen Frantz, who I am proud to share with the readers of this music blog, recently became President of the Tarpan Records label. I wholeheartedly agree with Narada Michael Walden’s choice for his top executive 🙂
Thunder 2013 is due to drop on Tuesday September 17th. It’s a vibrant recording with a unique depth of soul that peacefully envelops the music of our heart.
“Brother Narada’s new sound is young and vibrant. Listening to Thunder, is uplifting and transforming! Narada’s vision is powerful with lots of soul. It is a tapestry of vibrant ideas, universal tone and the great vocal hooks that he is known for. This album rocks hard-core with supreme light and raw energy divine.” – Carlos Santana
My favorite track so far is “Dreams of Vinyl” 🙂
I last saw Narada Michael Walden live at Madison Square Garden on February 18, 2010. He was playing drums for Jeff Beck that evening. The group featured selections from Jeff Beck’s Emotion, Commotion, months before its release. I was totally blown away by what I heard and experienced.
I get a similar feeling plus more from Thunder 2013. It has great feel flow. Give it a listen on Sound Cloud, you’ll crave the vibe 😉
So here we are later in time and I am writing about Rod Stewart’s soon to be released new album, Time (May 7th).
It’s interesting how much has changed in 44 years. I discovered Rod Stewart by accident actually as my goal that night at The Fillmore East was to see my favorite band at the time, Jethro Tull. I didn’t own a lick of Jeff Beck or Rod Stewart’s music before the show. I purchased Beck-Ola on the way to the Subway at The Gramophone.
Today I receive an e-mail from the Rod Stewart mailing list that informs me of the forthcoming album. I navigate with my Web browser to the Rod Stewart Official Website and I become informed about Time and its contents there. I also see that YouTube serves as the video preview point globally for Rod Stewart’s Time. Last but not least I don’t have to leave my easy chair to buy the recording because I can pre-order it on iTunes or Amazon. Rod Stewart in Internet Time indeed.
I have had the good fortune to see Buddy Guy perform live five times in my life. I have seen him at Toads Place with John Mayer, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert with Jeff Beck(2009), the 200 Year Salute to the Blues at Radio City Music Hall(2003) and Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport (twice). He is always the consistent showman who possesses this incredible knack of coaxing the blues out of his polka dot guitar.
It has been an exciting and rewarding time for Buddy Guy these past few months. He received the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors on December 2nd, 2012. It was a well deserved recognition for one of our national treasures.
Here is the CBS video segment about the Buddy Guy tribute in its entirety.
At age 76 Buddy Guy shows no signs of slowing down. If anything he has picked up momentum. He is playing his 16 night annual Winter residency at his Buddy Guy Legends Club in Chicago right now.
Last year Buddy Guy released a biography co-authored with David Ritz. David Ritz has written some great music biographies about B.B. King, Ray Charles to name a few. I ordered this item as my new Audible audio book to listen to in the car.
Buddy Guy Live At Legends
Buddy Guy released last month a live audio CD of a past Winter residency that was recorded at his old Legends Club in January 2010. It also includes as a bonus three studio tracks. I’m listening to this on Spotify 😉
He appeared on the David Letterman Show last night with his band to promote that recording. He performed “Damn Right I Got The Blues“.