Cloaca Melodia

My life in concerts, by Mike Sauter.


Lynyrd Skynyrd

PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA

You know, I often wonder whether a band feels cheesy doing this sort of a show, where the concert is a value-added freebie tacked on to a ballgame ticket. If you're Me First & The Gimme Gimmes or The Clarks, probably not. Playing a baseball stadium is a thrill in its own. But if you're in Lynyrd Skynyrd?

post continues....

I dunno. But I am sure that the band doesn't usually have a massive fireworks finale to accompany the coda to "Freebird," and the band didn't have to pony up a dime towards the cost of the pyrotechnics.

To back up, after the Pirates finished what was only their ninth sellout of the season with a win (what? did he say "a win"???), the players dashed off the field and the stadium crew set up a stage at 2nd base. With an enviable efficiency (just a 20 minute or so turnaround), the ballpark was switched into concert mode and the archtypical Southern rock band began playing.

Skynyrd played a crowd-pleasing set of past hits, including "That Smell," "Saturday Night Special," "Sweet Home Alabama," and the aforementioned "Freebird" (but why, oh why, does Johnny Van Zant have to use the painfully tired introductory question "what song is it you want to hear?"). Also standing out was "Gimme Three Steps," "What's Your Name?" and their take on J.J. Cale's "Call Me the Breeze."

Although the central New York of my youth was nowhere near the Mason-Dixon Line, bands like Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, and the Charlie Daniels Band were still hugely popular. My hometown was in a fairly rural area, and the image of the rebel South (perhaps one of the most effective branding jobs in U.S. history; see, for example, here) struck a chord with many disaffected high schoolers there. But Skynyrd's Gold & Platinum compilation was on seemingly everyone's turntable, not just the Southern rockers in town, since their music was all over radio in a way that many other similar bands simply couldn't match. My sister owned the album, and I certainly spent a fair amount of time watching that label rotate around the phonograph spindle. So it was good to see these songs live for the first time.

The sound was not ideal for the show, however. It was a bit muddy and not loud enough. I guess it's unfair to expect sound like the Rolling Stone's "Steel Wheels" show I saw at Shea Stadium, but there's got to be some middle ground. The instrumental second half of "Freebird" is really the song's power, showcasing the interplay of the multiple guitars, but that complexity was largely lost in the wash of sound from the roll-away PA system set up perhaps too efficiently after the game.

Labels: , , ,



Bedford Square, Pittsburgh, PA

Cracker agreed to headline WYEP's 3rd annual "Rock the Block" event, where we block off the street in front of the radio station and have a concert and general party.

post continues....

sorry, I haven't yet written about this show... add your own comments if you were also there!

Labels: , , , , ,


Del Castillo, Jason & The Scorchers

Johnstown Folk Festival, Johnstown, PA

I've been wanting to see Jason Ringenberg & The Nashville Scorchers live for more than 20 years. At my college radio station in 1985, '86, '87, we used to play "White Lies," "Golden Ball & Chain," and the band's take on "Absolutely Sweet Marie" quite a lot. And I remember my friend John Webber going to see them live and enjoying the hell out of it--despite being nearly deaf for days afterwards.

post continues....

So I wanted to see them, too. But eventually, they stopped playing out of Nashville much. I did see Jason Ringenberg solo live back in 2003, which was a great time. But I still wanted to see the band.

When I saw they were going to be appearing at the Johnstown Folk Fest, I thought that the stars were aligning; I've always meant to go to the Fest since moving to Pittsburgh in 2003 (close enough, although still a more than 90-minute drive). Plus, Del Castillo was also on the bill and performing immediately preceding The Scorchers--a band that not I really dig, but my wife likes as well.

Of course, now that I have a baby I have to make sure that she's consulted on such plans (9-month-olds have amazing powers of veto). The Scorchers were scheduled for a 7pm start time which was just barely within the realm of do-ability to see some of the show, drive home, and get baby to bed at a reasonable time.

So, to make a long story short, we came, we saw, we, er, well, not conquered. We enjoyed. Jason & The Scorchers are not the same band they were twenty years ago--I wonder whether Jason Ringenberg foresaw that he would be doing Farmer Jason children's music--but it was thoroughly fun. Sadly, I wasn't able to stay for too long and didn't get to hear any favorites (especially "Broken Whiskey Glass") but it was good to finally scratch that band off my list.

And Del Castillo was frickin' amazing as well. As my previous experience seeing them live attested, they are an incredible bunch of musicians. In some ways, they're remind me of Los Lonely Boys, but without the drug busts and with a souped-up, two-guitar attack.

Labels: , , , ,