Archive for the 1969-1980 Category

Willie Nelson

Posted in 1969-1980, Pre-Birth to Elem on March 4, 2009 by concertproject

willie-flores1969-lrgBand: Willie Nelson

Venue: unknown

Date: late 1968 to early 1969

I have always had an inexplicable affinity for the music of Willie Nelson. Sure, my dad used to play his records for me all the time when I was growing up, but my love for Willie’s songs seemed to run deeper than merely in my ears and into my brain. It almost felt like I connected to the music on a near cellular level. And although it wasn’t a necessarily pressing question as to why that was, it always bugged me a little.

Well, several years ago, I got my answer.

Apparently, at some time several months before my birth, my mom attended a Willie Nelson concert with my dad while she was pregnant with me.  No wonder I’ve always felt the amber current of a whiskey river flowing through my mind. It’s because Willie Nelson was my first ever concert.

Earliest photo of me, circa 1969

Earliest photo of me, circa 1969

Sha Na Na

Posted in 1969-1980, Pre-Birth to Elem on January 13, 2009 by concertproject

snn223

Band: Sha Na Na

Venue: Unknown but somewhere in CA

Date: Mid to late 1970s

For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that Danny and the Juniors performed “At the Hop” and that Martha and the Vandellas played “Heatwave”. I’ve also always had the implicit knowledge that Dion and the Belmonts sang “Runaround Sue” and that The Big Bopper sang “Chantilly Lace”. It was a great source of personal pride that I, at the tender age of seven or eight years old, knew all the words to songs by Jerry Lee Lewis, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly. Hell, I even knew the story of ‘The Day the Music Died’ before I had ever even heard the Don McLean tune.

I have to give all the credit to my dad for his role in filling my pre-adolescent head with a teeming abundance of early rock and roll trivia and otherwise useful knowledge. You see, when I grew up in the seventies, my dad had a jukebox (hey kids, imagine a four foot tall ipod with internal speakers) and the only music he allowed on it was American rock and roll recorded from 1955 to 1965. I have no idea how many countless hours I spent listening and grooving to those 45s (visualize a black, double sized and double sided cd, kids), but I do know it was a lot.

Then one day, I remember my dad turning me on to this band that played nothing but 50s and 60s covers. The band was called Sha Na Na (named after some choice lyrics in the Silhouettes hit, “Get a Job”) and from the second he told me about them, I became obsessed with them. He even bought me a few of their albums (just like 45s, kids, but bigger; and yes, there will be a test later on all this stuff). So now, whenever I needed my rock and roll fix, I could cue it on up right in the comforts of the record player in my own bedroom, as opposed to firing up the old jukebox in the family room.

snn14It wasn’t too long after my introduction to all things Sha Na Na that my parents took me to see them in concert. Next to my yearly pilgrimage of seeing the Ringling Brothers Circus at the COW Palace, going to see Sha Na Na live was a cultural and entertainment high water mark of mine for at least a few years. All of my favorite performers from the band were there: Denny, Johnny, and Santini on lead vocals and matching shiny gold suits, Jocko on drums, Lennie on saxophone (whom I would recognize at a blackjack table in Harrah’s Tahoe many years later), and, of course, Bowzer on bass vocals.

As I recall it, the band performed to the level of my expectation, weaving a spirited and lighthearted musical and comedic tapestry for all in attendance to snuggle up to and get comfy with for a few hours. Although I cannot guarantee it, the band most certainly ended the evening with their signature cover of The Spaniels’ “Goodnight Sweetheart.”