How The Fillmore East Changed My Life

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.

Photo courtesy of Wolfgang’s Vault

 

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. Fillmore East Ticket StubHe 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?

fillmore-east-program

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?

Copyright Atco Records

 

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.

Copyright Epic, Division of SONY Music

 

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.

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Jeff Beck – A Man For All Seasons: In The 1960s

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.

Concert Review: Santana and Rod Stewart, Mohegan Sun, May 25, 2014

The last time I saw Santana live was during their co-headliner tour with the Allman Bros. in July of 2012. The band’s trend of co-headlining East Coast concerts continues this year with Santana teaming up with Rod Stewart.

I go way back in concert with each of these legendary artists. I first caught Rod Stewart as lead vocalist with the Jeff Beck Group at the Fillmore East on July 3, 1969. I then saw Santana for the first time live the following year, November 14, 1970 at the Capitol Theatre in Portchester, New York. What’s interesting about both artists is that there was a significant gap in time before I saw either of them again. I re engaged with Santana in August of 2002 (a 32 year gap). I have since seen Santana perform live an extra 19 times (21 Santana concerts in 44 years, 20 of those shows in the past 12 years). I had not seen Rod Stewart perform in 45 years. So let’s do the time warp again 😉

The concert was billed as The Voice, The Guitar and The Songs, Rod Stewart, Santana. The Santana band was the opening act. It’s important to note that this is not the Santana Corazon Tour. If you look at the Santana.com Website you will notice that the Santana Tour dates reflect two different tours, the dates with Rod Stewart and the Corazon Tour.


GALAXY DANCE INTRO
1. TOUSSAINT L’OUVERTURE
2. HOPE YOUR FEELING BETTER
3. BLACK MAGIC WOMAN / GYPSY QUEEN
4. OYE COMO VA
5. MARIA MARIA
6. FOO FOO
7. *CORAZON ESPINADO-(CINDY & BENNY SOLO)
8. JINGO
9. SACALO
10. SAJA/ RIGHT ON/ UMI SAYS
11. SMOOTH/ DAME TU AMOR

*W/ CINDY BLACKMAN-SANTANA

 

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Exciting Santana News!

stewsan

Rod Stewart and Santana Live In Concert

Last year Santana conducted an East Coast tour with The Allman Brothers. We saw that event twice, once in New Jersey at the PAC and next in Hartford. It was a very satisfying gig with Carlos Santana jamming with Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks.

This year Santana is teaming up with Rod Stewart for a series of shows called The Voice, The Guitar, The Songs which will cover the U.S. and Canada markets.

I like the two superstars on one card. Rod Stewart is the first rock headline vocalist I ever saw at The Fillmore East way back in 1969. Rod Stewart appeared as the lead singer for The Jeff Beck Group. I loved the contrast of Rod Stewart ever the dandy set against two excellent guitarists, Jeff Beck and Ron Wood.

I have been eager to see Rod Stewart perform live with a stellar guitarist. I trust Rod Stewart will collaborate with Carlos Santana.

Cover Art, Release Date for Corazon

I love the art and graphic design that accents Santana’s recordings.  I wrote about Santana Art and Artists in 2012. The vibrant electric colors are strikingly evident on the forthcoming Corazon recording.

The concept for Corazon was conceived and designed by Boa Mistura, an art collective based in Madrid, Spain that works primarily on public art pieces, developing projects in South Africa, Norway, Berlin, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. For more information visit Boa Mistura’s Web site.

The Corazon album release date is May 6th on the RCA/SONY LATIN IBERIA Label.

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Rod Stewart – Time

Rod Stewart was the first British Rock lead vocalist I ever saw in concert. I saw Rod Stewart as lead vocalist for The Jeff Beck Group on July 3, 1969. I remember he was quite the dandy. He was tall and strutted across the Fillmore East stage wearing a long white scarf. His voice was very commanding to match his stage presence.

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.

 

Rod Stewart – Merry Christmas, Baby

Each year I like to get a new Christmas album that celebrates the season by filling our home with traditional holiday songs as we decorate the tree and living room. What better way to honor the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ 🙂 than to fill the music of our heart.

I am pleased to see that Rod Stewart will release his first Christmas recording, Merry Christmas, Baby on October 30, 2012. Rod’s command of the Great American Songbook and his later career emphasis as a torch singer has built him an expanded fan base.

I am especially looking forward to the track that features a “virtual duet” with Ella Fitzgerald as they are accompanied by Chris Botti on trumpet. This is a multidimensional collaboration with digital technology playing a key role in bridging the past and the present.

I have been a fan of Rod Stewart’s ever since I saw him perform as the lead singer for the Jeff Beck Group on July 3rd, 1969 at the Fillmore East in the East Village in New York City. He was a striking figure that night in purple turtleneck and a long white knit scarf. He strutted that stage like a dandy.