Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Lifetime of Live Music

I was saddened to hear the news of Mary Travers's death today. She was a legend. Imagine the 60s without her clarion call of a voice... "How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?"... "It's a hammer of justice, it's a bell of freedom, it's a song about love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land"... "I'm leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again. Oh, babe, I hate to go."

I am grateful that Luanne and I got to see Peter, Paul & Mary at the Hollywood Bowl several years ago. It was a rare chance to see legendary artists live, and I loved every minute of it.

I was thinking today about concerts I've been privileged to experience. My parents were awesome and took me to concerts a lot when I was a kid... I lived in northern Indiana, and tons of CCM artists came through there, performing in churches and, occasionally, the Morris Civic Auditorium or the Notre Dame Joyce Center. I'm trying to carry on the same tradition with my kids. Josh and Jake and I went to the Christian Music night at Great America in CA a few years back and saw Jars of Clay, tobyMac, Building 429, Falling Up and some others that I can't remember. And next month it's U2 and Black Eyes Peas in Oklahoma City. They are going to LOVE it.

Just for fun, I tried to remember all the artists I've seen over the years... I'm sure I've forgotten some, but this list is pretty exhaustive. I've included some notes about some favorites...

Have you seen any of these artists? What were your favorite concert experiences? Who would you like to see? Who are you planning on seeing?

2nd Chapter of Acts - I saw them on their last tour ever. What a privilege.

Amy Grant/Bob Bennett - unguarded Tour. Really? Poor Bob Bennett... Lone folkie with guitar playing in front of the curtain to a restless audience who just came to see Amy in her leopard skin jacket blaze through "Love Will Find a Way" and "Everywhere I Go." What were the label folks thinking? I love Bob, but talk about an awkward pairing. Would love to know what HE thought of that tour.

Amy Grant/Michael W. Smith

Anointed (twice)

Bash-N-the Code - Actually, I saw Found Free, which later became Bash. I was blown away. I think I was 13. I was with the youth group, not my parents. I fell in love with Rebecca Sparks as she sang that band's masterpiece, "Diamond." (Isn't that song ripe for a great cover?)

Bill Gaither Trio

Billy Sprague

Buddy & Julie Miller – Calvin College... What a great school. But it was a little weird. I saw it with an online friend from a listserv. I didn't know him well. We had fast food and sat together. It was a little like a blind date. Very weird.

Buddy & Julie Miller/Steve Forbert – Saw them in San Francisco on my birthday with Buck Ellis and Jon Simpson. Amazing show. Emmylou Harris popped in for a song or two.

Buddy Miller/Emmylou Harris/Shawn Colvin/Patty Griffin - The "Three Girls and Their Buddy" Tour at the Greek Theater in LA. I blogged about it here.

Charlie Peacock/Derek Webb/Sandra McCracken/Brandon Heath/Sara Groves - The "Art*Music*Justice" Tour. I blogged about it here.

Clay Crosse

dc Talk

Dianne Reeves - At a Hollywood Bowl event celebrating the 80th birthday of Dizzy Gillespie. Dizzy was there too. He walked out, looking all frail, but he didn't talk or play.

Dove Awards 1995 - Lots of people there. It was fun. We just decided to drive to Nashville. It was pretty easy to buy tix and get in! Actually walked by Dino, the "Christian Liberace," on our way in... and then got to rub shoulders (literally) with Out of the Grey, Phil Keaggy, Kim Hill, Susan Ashton, etc.

Emmylou Harris/Richie Furay - Humphrey's By the Bay, San Diego, 1997ish... She had Spyboy with her and was doing a lot of "Wrecking Ball" material. It was magnificent. Julie Miller was along with Buddy and got up on stage to do a few songs. I ran into Julie at the merch table during Richie Furay's set and talked for a while. It was a nearly perfect evening. Emmy at the top of her game.

Farrell & Farrell/Geoff Moore

First Call

Gaither Vocal Band

Imperials/Michele Pillar - First "big" concert ever. LOVED IT. I think I was 12.

Indigo Girls/Girlyman - The Indigo Girls are some of my very favorites. Luanne and I saw them (no band - just the two of them) at the Fox Theater in Redwood City, CA, with Mike and Nicole Hoefer.

Jason Mraz - Caught him and his band at the Montalvo Winery in Saratoga, CA. Another show Luanne and I saw with Mike and Nicole Hoefer! We later discovered the show was recorded for this recording.

Jonatha Brooke - In Lancaster, CA. On the "10 Cent Wings" tour. So beautiful. Heartbreakingly beautiful. When she and Ingrid sang "Always" it took my breath away.

Julie Miller – Back at Grace College in the early 90s. Buddy on guitar.

Kathy Troccoli/Mark Lowry - Now THAT is a strange combination.

Kenny Marks - At Brethren National Youth Conference in 1988.

Kim Hill - I saw her twice. The second time, I waited backstage for her and then stopped her, asked he how to break into music, and sang at her. I did one of her songs, a duet with Wes King. I sang the Wes King part. On the part where she was supposed to sing, she just stood there and looked at me. Awkward. I was young. Like 17. I've often wondered if she remembers me.

Lost Dogs - Hosted them at Peninsula Covenant Church a few years back. The Matt Nightingale Band opened.

Lucinda Williams/Buick 6 - Warehouse Live in Houston, 2009. Blogged about it here. Went with blogger friend and Houstonian David Kennedy. Read his blog! It's great...

Lucy Kaplansky - A house concert in South Bend, Indiana. Awesome. Just her voice and her acoustic.

Mandy Patinkin - On his "Dress Casual" tour with Paul Ford on the piano. My buddy Curt Hendley and I went together. (Yes, it counts, Curt!) Oh yeah, we were very cool freshmen guys in college. I ended up kissing Mandy's feet. Well, his shoes. While they were on his feet. It's a long story.

Manhattan Transfer - In Redwood City a few years back. A gift from my choir. What fun! Legends.

Michael W. Smith/dc Talk

Mike Roe – Hosted him at Access last year. Blogged about it here.

Mike Roe – Saw him on the "It's For You" tour in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, with my buddy Dave "Big D" Stoll. This was before he produced my record and we became bffs. :)

New Young Messiah - One of those "big event" kind of nights. Drove to Indianapolis for this one with Luanne in our early married years... Saw Twila Paris, Sandi Patti, Larnelle Harris, Michael English, First Call, Steve Green, BeBe & CeCe Winans, Carman and more... Oh yeah, Ralph Carmichael too!

Over the Rhine - I've seen my favorite band twice. Once in San Francisco, right after "Drunkard's Prayer" came out. Kim Taylor opened. And then I got to see them at North Park in Chicago the day after Obama was elected President! It was a great show, and I blogged about it here.

Patti LuPone and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra - Loved this one. She's a Broadway diva ("Evita," "Les Miserables," "Sunset Boulevard," "Anything Goes," "Sweeney Todd.") But this night was all Irving Berlin music, I think.

Peter Paul and Mary


PFR/Jars of Clay - This was before Jars got big. They were just the opening act. I don't even think "Flood" had hit the airwaves, although they were playing it live. Dan Haseltine had this crazy long hair that he would swing around.

Randy Stonehill - Had him at PCC. It was fun. I still have his cell phone # in my cell. I can't bring myself to delete it.


Renee Garcia

REZ - This was before I knew Glen Kaiser as my fellow Evangelical Covenant Church pastor... Back then, he was a rock god... They played Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana. Outdoors. It was loud. The police came.

Rich Mullins - A privilege to see this gifted man before he died. I saw him once in a concert setting and once in a performance of his musical, "Canticle of the Plains" starring Mitch McVicker as St. Francis.

Ryan Adams - The "Gold" tour. Amazing show at the Great American Music Hall in SF. I won tickets from KFOG and took my good friend Jon Simpson.

Sam Phillips/Tremolo - I saw Sam first with a full band after "A Boot and a Shoe" was released. This was a thrill for me... I've been a Sam fan since before she was Sam. And Justin Dillon was/is the leader of Tremolo. He's gone on to direct the great film, "Call and Response."

Sam Phillips - I saw Sam again just last summer (2008) in a Border's bookstore near Seattle.

Sandi Patti/First Call

Scott Wesley Brown/Michele Pillar

Silverwind - Yeah, except it was the "new" Silverwind. ALL replacements. How could they even call it Silverwind?

Staci Frenes - Great singer/songwriter from the SF Bay area. We had her at PCC once, and I opened a show for her at the Koinonia Koffeehouse once.

Steven Curtis Chapman/Carolyn Arends

Suzanne Vega/Teddy Thompson - This was another big deal for me. To finally see an artist I've loved for so long was right up there with U2 and Indigo Girls. I blogged about it here. I went by myself. Afterwards, I stalked Rob Bell. But that's another story for another time.

The Choir - This was at the height of my college experimentation with so-called "alternative" music. The Choir was huge to me. I loved "Wide-Eyed Wonder" and "Circle Slide." I dressed all up with my friends in hippy-ish clothes and we went to THE CAFETERIA to see The Choir. I got busted for jumping up and down. I'm not kidding. Bruce Barlow, the Dean of Students at the time, actually put his hand on my shoulder and told me to come see him the next day. I did. He didn't want to see a Christian leader like me dancing.

The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers

tobyMac/Falling Up/Building 429/Jars of Clay

U2/Kings of Leon - Incredible show. The "Elevation" tour in San Jose, CA. Eric Barnikel took me. It rocked. Maybe the best concert I've ever been to. Certainly the biggest spectacle.

Victoria Williams/Chris Stills - Park West, Chicago, 1998. Chris Stills (son of Stephen) opened. Here's an article about the show from No Depression.

Victoria Williams/Mark Olson - Bimbo's 365 Club, San Francisco, 2000 - This was my moment of glory. I shouted out "My Ally" as a request. She had me come up and sing Dave Pirner's part! And to top it all off, someone recorded it, and I have it on CD - and it's actually floating around out there on the web on bootlegging sites. What a cool memory.

White Cross/DeGarmo & Key

White Heart - I saw them once with Found Free back in youth group days. Then Luanne and I saw them on one of our first dates at Grace. 1991?

And then there are the Broadway shows I've seen on tour or in major cities... Showboat, Stomp!, Wicked, Into the Woods, Rent, Cats, Starlight Express, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Phantom of the Opera... But that's another post in and of itself. Until next time...


Curt said...

You've seen way more than I have. Just off the top of my head, I've seen Bill Gaither, Carman, Sandi Patti (all three were at the first concert I ever attended at age 4), Wayne Watson, Petra, Geoff Moore, Margaret Becker, Benny Hester, Morgan Cryer, Jon Gibson, Kenny Marks, Billy Sprague, Michael Card, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Prism, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Richard Shindell, Dar Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Caedmon's Call. That's all I can think of. Of course, there was also Peter, Paul, and Mary (at Hollywood Bowl w/ you and Luanne) and Mandy Patinkin (w/ you in South Bend, if that counts as a "concert"). I guess I've seen more than I thought. :)

Suzie said...

U2/Joshua Tree tour was my all time favorite so far...Toby Mac/Hawk Nelson, Amy Grant/Michael w. Smith, Michael W. Smith/DC Talk (I think I have seen Michael w. Smith at least 4 times), Toad the Wet Sprocket (at least 5 times, always a good show!) Go-Go's, and of course Jon Simpson (I get to see him again live tomorrow!). I am sure I am forgetting some...Crowded House was good, Rush was good, can't think of anything else at the moment...

Gabe Taviano said...

You've seen quite a few - nice! My favorite live shows would include Skillet, David Crowder Band, TobyMac, Red, and just recently saw some insane talent in the local Jared Mahone Band here in Columbus, OH. Thanks for asking!

Love Tortoise said...

U2 - 1983 - Unforgettable Fire or War - they played at the SF Civic Center with the Waterboys and there were about 3,000 of us tops. I was not attending church in high school, but if felt like a worship set... spiritually moving and intimate with so few of us.

Alarm - 1984 - some small place in SF - these guys had crazy hair and passion. great concert!

Rich H. said...

This should be fun. Peabody! set the wayback machine...


1970's - Bill Gaither Trio - Veteran's Memorial in Columbus, Ohio. I was in 4th grade, I think. I remember being disappointed that Gloria Gaither didn't tell any funny stories about their kids like they did on the live album we had.

High School
Amy Grant/Michael W. Smith "Age to Age" tour at the Ohio Theater in Columbus. This was months before Smith's first record was out and he spent almost the whole opening act singing to tracks and teaching us "Great Is The Lord" (the whole song, not just the chorus). The worst opening act EVER. We were stunned when the "Michael W. Smith Project" came out and it was good.

Imperials - "Lord of the Harvest" tour.

Steve Taylor - "Meltdown" tour. He did every song from "I Want To Be A Clone" and "Meltdown at Madame Tussauds". Fantastic.

Amy Grant "Straight Ahead" and "Unguarded". At the time, they really pushed the envelope and were great shows. Gary Chapman was funny too.

Glad - Rodaheaver Auditorium, Grace College. I got to help set up and spent hours talking with Chris Davis the guitar player. Very nice guy. I watched the lead singer ring the feedback out of the monitors by listening to the feedback, figuring out what note it was, and then used an index card to tell the sound guy what freq to notch on the EQ. Best use of perfect pitch ever.

Steve Camp - Rodaheaver Auditorium, Grace College. He talked about how the first time he ever sang in public was at a Youth for Christ conference in the same auditorium because he remembered the wood beams. He also played a snippet of "Sgt. Pepper" and drove the more conservative folks bonkers.

Phil Keaggy - Rodaheaver Auditorium, Grace College. Solo acoustic show where Dr. Lovelady (a great classical guitarist on staff at Grace) played along on a couple songs.

Randy Stonehill - Rodaheaver Auditorium, Grace College. Notable because my friend Steve Divine kept correcting Randy when he messed up lyrics on a song.

Amy Grant "Unguarded Tour" - Ft. Wayne Coliseum. Rich Mullins opened up for this before his first record came out - much better than MWS. He talked about how he used to come to hockey games in the Coliseum there since he grew up near by.

Russ Taff "Medals" tour 2x (Ft. Wayne & South Bend). Great show.

U2 Hoosier Dome - "Joshua Tree" tour , Indianapolis. The opening act (Los Lobos) was late so U2 came out in disguise as the "Dalton Brothers" and played some country songs. We had no idea it was them until we read the reviews the next day...

Sting at Purdue - "...Nothing Like The Sun" tour. This is when Brandford Marsalis was touring with him. Loved this show...

Selected Post-college concerts
The Alarm (2x) "Change" & "Raw" tours - The Vic, Chicago. I almost got castrated by this chain-smoking girl on front me who kept waving her cigarettes at, um, crotch level. Great shows though.

Lilith Fair - Detroit. This was the first "Lilith Fair" tour. I went with my then-pregnant sister and her husband the afore-mentioned Dave "Big D" Stoll". My sister was so creeped out by all these women who kept wanting to touch my sister's very pregnant belly and commune with the baby. I also got to stand at the soundboard for Paula Cole's set and talk shop with the soundguy. He later went back and got me one of Paula's drummer's drumstick-thing that Dave & I kept stealing from each other.

The Police - last reunion tour in 2008. Went with my 3 best friends from college.

U2 - "Elevation" tour in Columbus in 2001 and "360" tour last weekend in Chicago with my 12-year-old daughter. Sharing live music with your kids is the best.

Anonymous said...

Whoa I'm old... top concerts I've seen - Can't rank 'em... unless by the company I was in at the time...

1980 - Maynard Ferguson

1985 - Chuck Mangione

1984-1987 - Petra, Larry Norman,Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, Stryper

U2, David Bowie, Some girl named Amy something...

Sound Investment

PFR, 4 Him, GVB, more southern gospel than should be legal,

All Weather Human

Anonymous said...

Always remember "Lemon Tree" :-)
Your Friend,
Emily Stoll
The aforementioned pregnant sister of "rambling, too much time on his hands" Rich and wife of aforementioned Dave "Big D" Stoll - no longer "big"!!!!

Anonymous said...

Totally forgot that we saw Charlie Peacock in a coffe house with about forty folks @ Hamline or McAlister U in MSP.... That literally rocked!

Todd said...

All time favorites... WOW that's hard… either U2 Joshua Tree (Madison Square Garden, recorded for use in Rattle and Hum), Frank Sinatra at the Ocean Center/Daytona Beach, or Paul McCartney (The Wings) at The Orange Bowl/Miami.

I have also seen: APB, Jane’s Addiction, Howard Jones, Billy Joel, INXS, Public Image Limited (Sex Pistols), Genesis, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Front 242, Ziggy Marley, UB40, Eddie Brickel, The James, Skinny Puppy, Peter Gabriel, The Beastie Boys, Henry Rollins, The Cranberries, Atlantis Morsette, Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, The Soup Dragons, Big Audio Dynamite (the Clash), The Charlatan UK, Love and Rockets, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Living Colour, Violent Femmes, Fishbone, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry, Ice Cube, Soundgarden, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Pearl Jam, Lush, Porno for Pyros, Cypress Hill, House of Pain, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Arrested Development, Babes in Toyland, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Natalie Merchant, Luscious Jackson, Collective Soul, Live, Cheryl Crow, Joe Cocker, Blind Melon, Aerosmith, Primus, Spin Doctors, Bob Dylan, Santana, Tony Bennett, Sting and Bruce Springsteen

Tristan said...

1985ish - Greensboro, North Carolina - Bryan Adam's "Heat of the Night" tour with Scandal opening up. Best show I've ever been too. Very undersold. Bryan invited everyone down onto the basketball court to dance. All of the folding court chairs we're pushed aside. Security was miserable. We emptied the bleacher seat and rocked to "Summer of 69" and the like. It was like having a superstar at a private party. Coolest dude ever on the stage, just like he was one of us. Very memorable.

Meghan said...

I can't remember all I've seen -
Amy Grant a bunch of times
DC Talk/Michael W Smith front row at the Oakland Coliseum
Howard Jones - good show!
Newsboys a few times - love them
Lots of bands at Creation
WHAM twice - once at a day on the green concert with the Pointer Sisters and Katrina and the Waves
but I think one of my all time favs was Elton John at the Oakland Coliseum - can't remember what year
and then Elton John/Billy Joel at the coliseum in 2001 (or 2000, can't remember)
oh, and I saw Chicago
Concord Pavilion used to be an awesome place to go to concerts!

Glenn+Jenn+Owen+Ian said...

Matt - fun post! I had to smile realizing all the artists I've heard due to going to Anderson University - Gaithers, Sandi Patti, Steven Curtis Chapman...all during chapel.

Some of my favorites: U2, Indigo Girls, Compay Segundo (Buena Vista Social Club), Shawn Colvin, Natalie Merchant, James Taylor (outdoors in Indiana!), REM in Barcelona, Sting (Nothing Like the Sun).

This post also reminded me of a girl on my dorm floor freshman year of college who was in love with Carmen (seriously) and had been to almost every concert he'd ever given. - Jenn Wong

Tymm Cote said...

best concert i went to is between two artists, I'm still not sure which was better for me...

first one was George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic. They were right, P-Funk party don't stop till someone calls the cops. I literally saw the police show up and force the sound guy to shut things down at the public park at 1 AM.

second one would be The Get Up Kids reunion show. They played my favorite album from track 1 to finish.

Second best concert was Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos/Headlights/Page France/Canada show at the Randy Bacon Photography Gallery in Springfield.

I've seen Incubus/Hoobastank... meh..

I want to see Kings of Leon, really bad.

Bob Bennett said...

RE: Amy Grant 1985 "Unguarded Tour" ...

>> Would love to know what HE [Bob Bennett]
>> thought of that tour

It _was_ a really weird bill. Amy saw me in concert at a small Presbyterian church in the Denver area the night before she was appearing at Red Rocks. This was the first part of the Tour where Philip Bailey was on board and Gary Chapman was standing in for Phil Collins on the Collins/Bailey hit "Easy Lover". Amy like me and want me to play on the Tour, so it happened. But, as has been well documented over the years, her audiences did not like me very much. But _she_ was terrific to me and, although we're not close friends in any way, I will always think the world of her for her kindness to me at a very tender time of my life/career. The leg of the Unguarded Tour after mine featured a mostly-then-unknown Rich Mullins. And even though he was much more suited to the task than I probably was, he still faced pretty indifferent audiences night-after-night. In those big venues and arenas, the opening artist always has a tough hill to climb. So twenty-fours years later, I'm okay and flying completely under the radar of the CCM industry. But I'm still singing, playing and recording. The genre has almost entirely morphed into "worship music" and I'm simply not that guy. Singer-songwriters (meaning stories and narratives that are not designed for congregational singing) are in pretty short supply in and around churches these days. But I'm happy there are still enough folks who listened to my early albums in seminary who now invite me to play in the churches they're pastoring!

Matt Nightingale said...

Oh my gosh... Hi Bob! I just realized that you posted a comment here. Love your thoughts. Thank you. I love your music so much!

Maybe a trip to Tulsa is in the works at some point...

Bob Bennett said...

>> Maybe a trip to Tulsa is in the works at some point ...

I'm rarely "passing through" these days. My schedule usually conforms to "invites" I've had from various promoters, churches, house concerts, etc. I'm one guy with one guitar, so my expectation is that it won't bankrupt anyone to have me come play! Feel free to e-mail me at BOB at BOB dash BENNETT dot COM (the "dash" is a "hyphen"). I'm still actively writing, playing concerts/services and recently released my first Christmas album. Thanks so much, Bob (

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