Monday, October 29, 2018

Jesse Colin Young • Live at the Belly Up • 10/28/18

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Jesse Colin Young with my old buddy Mark Hunter at the Belly Up in Solana Beach, CA.  Mark and I go way back to our college days together as we became fast friends in our first year at San Diego State in the Toltec Dorm in 1975. We used to meet in the Toltec commons area where they had a big console TV and we watched several of the first episodes of Saturday Night Live during that year.

For high school graduation, I had received a rather large stereo system as a gift from my parents, and managed to cram that into my little dorm room with my roommate Kevin Kuhlmeyer. Anyway, my room became a kind of hangout for listening to music and my girlfriend, Mary Kit would bring her Zapotec girl dorm friends over, so it was kind of a happening place for a nerd like me.

We listened to all kinds of music as some would bring over cheap beer and their albums.  Mark would drop in with either his Martin guitar, or have some really cool records in hand to listen to, like Jesse Colin Young.

Now I had seen The Youngbloods (Loggins and Messina opened) at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1972, but really didn't know much about Jesse Colin Young who like Mark had lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mark provided this introduction so to speak.

After that first year, Mark and I broke from the dorms and got a two bedroom apartment together about a mile from campus. We listened to a lot of music that year, because we were both broke and I remember us heating tortillas up on the stove and eating peanut butter burritos many a night.

It was during that school year of 1976-77 that I got my stereo system stolen after we had left the windows open during a heat wave.

No worries, I downgraded where I found an ad on campus and got a simple record player. Both Mark and I took that cheap stereo with us to another apartment on a street actually named Jessie St. I'll never forget that time thanks to Mark, listening to Jesse Colin Young's hot streak of albums through the 70's including, Song for Juli, Lightshine, Songbird, On the Road, and Love on the Wing.

So, it was incredibly fitting that Mark and I would get together all these years later and spend an evening together listening to Jesse Colin Young with his wonderful band of young people. I say that because it seems Jesse went shopping one day at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and literally recruited all these talented, young musicians to be in his band. Actually, Jesse saw all these musicians as students performing at their graduation ceremony with Jesse's son Tristan Young, also a graduating student at Berklee, and now bass player in the band.

Mark commented how brilliant it was for Jesse to assemble this group and take them out on the road and into the studio together. As good as Jesse is to his band, they are equally good to a 76 year old legend who has suffered greatly over the years as he was not correctly diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Jesse said last night that ten years ago he thought he'd never be able to perform again and now that he is being treated for his disease, has been given another chance to be the troubadour he has always been. Now, he gets to do his thing surrounded by a fresh group of young people that give a real pop to the Jesse Colin Young jazzed infused sound of folk rock of the middle 1970's.

Here is my shot of the group from my cool loft seat at the Belly Up last night.

It was truly an evening to remember. Jesse has all these great songs he has written over the years as a folk singer in Greenwich Village, leader of the Youngbloods, and then his successful solo career. I had forgotten how many great love songs he has written that still touch me today. In this week's playlist, I got a chance to catch up on some "newer" songs that I had never heard before and look forward to his new album coming out in early 2019.

So Mark, this one's for you, thanks for all the good times- past, present and future!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Graham Nash - Humphreys San Diego 10/13/18

A music wish list of mine from the past was to see Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young together, and now, all of them separately. I did see CSN a couple of times over the years, but never as CSNY. In the past two years, I have seen David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young as separate solo acts (with Stephen Stills with The Rides).

Last Saturday night, I got to complete the four way treat by seeing Graham Nash at Humphreys by the Bay in San Diego. Now when you think of Graham Nash, your first thought is not as a solo act, not that he can't pull that off and did brilliantly on Saturday.  It's just that you think of Graham as a team player in a band. His beautiful voice was first made famous with The Hollies and his pairing with Allan Clarke. He then went on to make music with David Crosby and Stephen Stills, then later adding Neil Young to make CSNY. I also have to mention his 1971 solo album, Songs for Beginners, as one of my favorite records of all-time

Over the years, the pairing of David Crosby and Graham Nash has transcended CSNY as those two voices blended together to make a perfect sound of harmony. As a fan today, it is heartbreaking that David and Graham are still not talking to each after several years.

It's no secret that David Crosby is an asshole as he himself told the audience at his SD Balboa Theatre concert in 2016. I listened as he told a story about his behavior being the reason he got kicked out of The Byrds in 1967.

Over the years, I have always admired Graham because he was the definition of a good friend, especially to David Crosby. Crosby's huge ego coupled with his legendary drug problems, prison sentence and liver transplant have been well documented over the years, with Graham always there to support his friend. Let's hope these two can square up before one of them dies. Too many friends have made that mistake over our time on this earth. I'm actually hoping David is the first to reach out and pick up the phone and call his old buddy. Life typically only gives you one handful of people that you can count as true friends, and those gifts are not meant to be broken.

In the meantime, Graham Nash is having a grand time singing solo in smaller venues. But wait a minute, once you go see Graham as a solo act, you quickly learn of a new partner, one Shane Fontayne. Shane is a great guitar player and good backup singer. For Graham's latest album, This Path Tonight the two co-wrote 20 songs together in preparation and Shane produced the album.

The pleasant surprise of seeing these these two guys live is that you get to hear all these great Graham Nash songs that he has written since the mid 1960's, but with an electric guitar master to help interpret the songs with new colors. During the concert, Mark Knopfler came to my mind as Shane can subtilely bend and slide notes with the best of them. His guitar "Whale Sounds" on Wind on the Water, knocked me out. Graham at the end of that song said, "Shane does Whale well."

What was not a surprise, is the well preserved 76 year old voice of Graham Nash. Graham has always taken good care of himself and it shows. Nothing better than listening to two guitars in sync with a timeless voice that still carries the day in 2018.

In this week's playlist, I've tried to capture Saturday's concert with current videos of the 70+ year old Graham Nash mixed with some of his rock 'n' roll hall of fame recordings, along with a few short interviews as well. Enjoy my friends!