By: Lee from Michigan
My normal Beacon trip consists of picking one of the 3-day weekends, Thursday thru Saturday. That was the original plan this year as well. Then I got to talking to JodyGirl and she suggested I come on Wednesday because you just never know when a spring snow storm will occur. Good idea. But there was no ABB show on Wednesday. Then I got to thinking, “well there is one on Tuesday. Maybe I’ll come to NY then. Well, if I’m going to come Tuesday I might as well come Monday and just take the whole dang week off”. So that’s what I did.
Monday, March 17: Turns out Jody was right. Sort of. We got an unseasonable warm spell in Michigan that melted all the snow. I was fogged in the Detroit airport and three flights to La Guardia were cancelled. Instead of getting into NY around 1:30 that afternoon, I didn’t get in until after 6:00. It was almost 7:00 when I got into the city. Somehow I have a knack for finding the most disgusting hotels in Manhattan and this was no exception (maybe the price would give me a hint in the future). Since the ABB show started at 8:00, I didn’t have time to find another place, so I begrudgingly checked in. I quickly took a shower and went to the Beacon to look for Pam & Goliath in front of the theatre. Unfortunately, we never hooked up. I guess it might have helped if we knew what the other looked like.
So I went inside and took my place down front, in the very front row actually. The usher was nice enough to give me a pair of earplugs, which were definitely needed. Even with the earplugs, the sound was great. They started with Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’, then launched into Hot ‘Lanta, which is becoming one of my favorite older songs. The first set was solid, with several of the new songs. At the intermission, Jaimoe came out and sat down in the middle of the stage with a pen and a bag of T-shirts. He proceeded to sign them and toss them into the crowd. Since I had a front row seat, I was able to get down in front of him and grab one of his throws. Unfortunately, there was someone tugging at the other end of the shirt. It was the girl standing next to me. Uh oh. Moral dilemma. What to do? I decided to let go of my end and let her have it. A few moments later, I got hold of another shirt. This time, there were two other guys tugging on it. I gave it a swift yank and had my T-shirt, albeit a little stretched out. Who says chivalry is dead?
The scond set was great. Got to hear Statesboro and Firing Line. But the highlight for me was Patchwork Quilt. The only times I have heard this song was on Warren’s solo acoustic shows. It was cool to hear an electric version.
After the show, I hopped in a cab to Tobacco Road to hear the Matt Barranti Band. Got to talk to Matt for a moment. He’s a really nice guy. The band sounded great. Unfortunately, the crowd was a little sparse. Matt said it could have been because it was St. Patty’s day and people had been partying all day. I stayed for a while, then decided to head back.
Tuesday, March 18: An unseasonably warm day in New York, perfect for walking around, checking out the sights. My ticket for the show that night was in the balcony. After being in the front row the night before, there was no way I was going to sit in the balcony. So I bought a ticket in the third row and sold my balcony seat. I wormed my way down into the front row, right where I was the night before. This show was even better than the previous night. They opened with Revival, which I haven’t heard them open with too often. This is a great song to start with. It really gets the crowd going. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Statesboro again. Perhaps my favorite song that evening was Warren doing Good Morning Little School Girl, the first time I’ve heard him do it. They did an acoustic set that night. I’m sort of on the fence about acoustic sets. I can usually take them or leave them, but I really enjoyed it this time. I like it when Gregg plays guitar. And then I thought it was really cool when he left the stage and it was just Derek and Warren. Another first for me was seeing Derek with an acoustic guitar.
At the intermission, Jaimoe again came out, sat in the middle of the stage and started signing T-shirts. Pretty cool. I got my favorite ABB song late in the second set, Dreams. Closing my eyes and listening to the guitar solos on that always makes me swoon. It’s hard to describe how that song moves me. Audley Freed came out and played on Southbound. Seems like every time I see the ABB do that song, they have a guest on it. I once read an interview with Dickey and he said it is a pretty simple song to play, which may explain why a guest could pick it up quickly. They ended the same way they did the night before, Instrumental Illness and One Way Out. Matt Abts came out for the encore, replacing Jaimoe. As much as I love One Way Out, I wish they would play it earlier. That’s a song that really gets a place jumping and it’s a shame that the show is over when it is the encore.
Wednesday, March 19th: Weather was back to normal, meaning cold. Unfortunately, this was the day I picked to be a tourist. I went to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty and then to Ellis Island, where they processed all the immigrants for several years. If I may make a suggestion, go on this tour the next time you are in NY. It was really neat. The history at both places was very moving. After I took the tour, I went to check out Wall Street. I wanted to go into the NYSE, but they wouldn’t let me. There were police in full body armor standing in the street, carrying machine guns. Very surreal. An unfortunate sign of the times, I guess.
No ABB show that night. But after my sightseeing extravaganza, I had a quick dinner and then went to BB King’s to see Otiel and X2, with Johnny Neel & Matt Abts. Oteil’s band played first and they were really good. They play with a lot of energy and you can tell Oteil is really proud of the band he put together. I bought Oteil’s new CD as well as the X2 disc and after Oteil was done, I asked him to sign it. He invited me back stage so he could get his Sharpie. The band was back there and I had a drink and hung out with them for a while. They are all really nice guys. I asked Oteil if Layla from the prior weekend was a one-time occurence. His response: “We haven’t been practicing it for months to only play it once”. Well, that’s what I wanted to hear! I also spoke at length with Jason Crosby and told him I was going to check out his band later that night. He told me he had some of his CDs with him, so I bought one. On my way out, I ran into Matt Abts & Johnny Neel and had them sign their CD. Johnny was really funny. He put his arm around me and acted like I was his long lost buddy. I stayed for some of the X2 show, then left early to Tobacco Road again to see the Jason Crosby Band.
These guys are really good, too. He even had a full horn section. Jason had told me Susan & Derek were going to show up and play but by 1:30 AM, they weren’t there so I figured they weren’t coming and I left.
Thursday, March 20: Hooray! I got to check out of the roach motel and move on down to the Beacon Hotel. I checked my bags and went to look for an internet cafe so I could put my NCAA picks into our office pool. No luck finding one, so I called my buddy on my cell phone and made him do it for me. Then it was on to meet Jeanne for lunch. She asks me if I like Italian food. Sure, I say. As I’m on my way there, I begin to wonder if this is a nice place since I was dressed as if I was going to an ABB show. My fears were realized as I walked into the place and saw a Maitre ‘D at the door. Uh Oh. But being the classy guy that I am, I checked my black ABB hat at the door and went in. I left my coat on because it looked nicer than my shirt underneath. Jeanne and I had a great lunch (I buy next time my friend!), topped off my peach sorbet for dessert.
By this time, I had to meet my Beacon roomie, Great Scott at the hotel. So I said good- bye to Jeanne until the next day and raced uptown to the Beacon. When I got to the lobby, those crazy left-coasters were also checking in and they tattooed me immediately. Scott and I made our intros and headed to the room. We weren’t there more than a few minutes when there was a knock at the door. Hey, it’s Brofan! Sporting a beard and looking like Billy Joel. Soon Corny and wife were in the room and we hung out and enjoyed our refreshment of choice. As we got ready to leave for the show, I get a call from that Sweetie from Michigan, TerriB. She wishes us well and says she’ll be in town tomorrow.
As I get to my seat in the loge, Scott taps me on the shoulder and points if front of us. Hey, it’s Jody & Gerald! We chat for a moment and then the show starts. Another great show, very different from the first two that I saw. Although I did get Patchwork Quilt again, and they played Instrumental Illness for the third consecutive night. Scott and I are just itching to stand and shake it up a bit, but that’s a no-no in the loge. Evidently, Lee had been out late too many nights in a row, because I told Scott I was leaving early and heading to our room for some much-needed sleep. Darn, I missed Mountain Jam.
Friday, March 21: Rich, Scott and I get up and have a great breakfast together and decide to go for a walk. Rich and I both recall a great used CD store around the corner that has hard to find discs. We finally find it and spend some time in there. On the way back to the hotel, Scott spots someone we all know. Hey, it’s Johnny Fishcamp! NY is starting to fill up the GBers. We go for a walk thru Central Park, and go see Strawberry Fields. As we’re heading back to our rooms, the Beacon lobby is full of GBers checking in. The Sweeties are there, there’s Karen & Lynn and hey, there’s Jody & Gerald yet again.
More room-partying that afternoon as Corny and the Mrs. came back over. They were our next-door neighbors that weekend. Then that great guy (even though he’s a Hoosier) Josh came over. Then another guy comes into the room and introduces himself as Bob. We all do the intros. Then he hands me a B&P package. I look at it and say, “Hey, you’re PhillyBob!” I get to meet another GBer. So we spend the afternoon listening to the ABB, talking the ABB and having a good ‘ol time.
That evening is the Sweeties’ wonderful party. You guys know how to do it up right! I didn’t realize you could cram so many people into one hotel room. Many more familiar faces as well as some familiar GB names were in attendance. On to the show! Set one was good. Change is Gonna Come is a great song. And the horn section really added something to it. Set two just blew me away! I just loved the song selection in the second set. Statesboro, Dreams, No One To Run With and I loved them doing Into The Mystic. As they closed out the night, you just new something magical was going to happen. I think everyone in the place just new it. It was something palpable that you could feel in the air. And then of course, it happened. They launched into Layla, which brought the house down. The song was stuck in my head for three days after that. I actually had goose bumps when I walked out of the theatre.
But my evening wasn’t done just yet. Sari and I hopped on the subway and headed down to BB King’s to catch Oteil’s CD release party. Not only did we see a good show, but we also got to eat the world’s most overpriced hamburgers. Not sure how that place can charge so much. Anyway, we stayed for part of the show and decided to head back to our rooms. What a fantastic night of music!
Saturday, March 22: My last day in the city. How sad. I hate the end of vacations. After a morning bloody mary with the Sweeties, I decide to go for a walk. As soon as I get outside, who do I run into? Of course, it’s Jody and Gerald. These two are EVERYWHERE. Then I see Del Davis, then Karen & Lynn. So here we are, having a mini GB convention on the sidewalk on Broadway. Only in NY. Karen, Lynn and I decide to go have lunch at an outdoor cafe, which was really nice.
That afternoon, I go up to Rich and Stormie’s room and there’s Lammie, ready with a big hug for me. So we hang out there for a while as people filter in and out. Of course, Jody and Gerald were there (I said they were everywhere).
Saturday night was the left-coasters bash. Not bad for a bunch of Pac-10 fans! As with the night before, the hospitality was beyond belief. These guys know how to do it up right (sorry about the salsa incident guys). Once again, I’m amazed that you can pack that many people into a hotel room, but we managed.
The show that night of course, was good. Scott and I snuck Pam down to our seats and we had a blast. I really liked Banks of The Deep End with Rob Baracco and Tom Doucette. My favorite song that night though was I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, which Scott correctly predicted. Another One Way Out finish, the third in five nights.
After the show it was down to the Lions’ Den for the Derek show with Scott, Karen & Lynn. Of course, it seems like everyone from the GB is there. By this time, I’m REALLY pooped, with the onset of getting sick starting to hit me. So I don’t last too long at the Derek show. I hop in a cab and head back to the hotel. As I’m going back to my room, I hear noise and music coming from Rich & Doug’s room. Lammie and the guys are still jamming away. I stop in briefly before ending my musical week.
One last thing about the week. As I was getting out of the cab, I faintly heard music coming from the cabbie’s radio. I couldn’t place the song at first, but then it came to me. For the first (and still only) time, I heard Firing Line on the radio. What an appropriate way to end my week in the best city in the world!
So many highlights of the week. Obviously, some fantastic concerts. Great friends. Meeting new GB people (which I won’t try to name, lest I forget someone, but it was great meeting you all!). Seeing “old” GB friends. Walking thru Central Park with some great guys. Rich saying “I’m almost done guys” for an hour when we were in the CD store (Rich, we were in no hurry). Running into people you know on the streets of New York. Now, what are the chances of that? Room-hopping to other Gbers’ rooms, just because you can. Propping our hotel room door open because you just know someone is going to show up.
Someone had posted in the GB that they didn’t understand if people came to the shows for the friends or the music. Which one was it? They wondered. Well, I say it is for the EXPERIENCE. If it weren’t for the great music of the ABB, I wouldn’t have met so many wonderful people. And if it were not for the wonderful people, I probably wouldn’t travel to so many shows to hear the great music!!!