Roots Report: The Boss!

Okee dokee folks … Last week I saw Bruce Springsteen in Boston thanks to the generosity of my friends Denise, Mike and Paula. (Thank you!) There was no way I could afford a ticket to that show even if I could have gotten my hands on one. All 16,500 tickets were long gone, but my friends had an extra one and it wound up mine! Bruce played an outstanding, non-stop, three-hour and 20 minute show for the capacity crowd. Now I am not bringing this up to review the show or to rub it in your nose that I went; I am bringing it up for other reasons:

COST. The tickets to the Springsteen show averaged $150 each. For the price of that ONE ticket you could go to a FEW shows at local venues. Add in the cost of parking and gas and you could add one more show. If you wanted a beer and a snack you could add another show. So, if you are willing to pay for all of this then paying $10 to see a local band shouldn’t be a problem for you, right?

CROWD, SEATING & SOUND. Unless you absolutely love hanging out with 16,500 people, waiting in a VERY tightly crowded line for an hour to get in (talk about sending my anxiety off the charts!), going through metal detectors, and ascending countless flights of stairs to your seat (seriously, I had to take a break, TWICE) then you should skip the Garden (or whatever it is called now). The best “seats” were those in “the pit” where you paid a lot of money to STAND in a crowd in front of the stage and MAYBE help Bruce crowd surf or have him sweat on you. If you were behind the pit and had floor seats, you had to stand to see the stage. Most seats are so far away you watch the whole show on the Jumbotron. Just imagine going to Stone Soup and watching a performance from across the street. Yeah, that’s kind of what it’s like. My friend Greg Bass once told me that he would rather wait for the DVD and watch those types of concerts on his surround sound TV in the comfort of his living room. Best idea I have heard. The volume in these venues is so loud that you really should wear hearing protection, but most people don’t even think to wear ear plugs.

Most of the local venues only seat from 50 to 500 people, and you can actually ENJOY a concert in those settings. You can SIT. You can SEE. You can HEAR without your eardrums being pummeled.

Hopefully all of those issues will make you think about supporting local musicians and venues as opposed to the mega shows. Am I glad that I went? Hell, yes! Did I enjoy the show? Absolutely! Would I have gone if I had to buy a ticket? Hell, no! That was the fourth time I have seen Springsteen in 40 years. I am probably all set now. I paid  $5 the night of the show for my first Springsteen concert in the ’70s, and he played one of those legendary four hour shows. That’s hard to beat.

One more thing. The last time I saw Bruce was in ’93. We had seats behind the stage, and I could see the stage deck very clearly. There was a monitor in the floor that presented all Springsteen’s song lyrics to him. He was about 43-ish when he played that show. When I passed 40, I started with the CRS Syndrome — Can’t Remember Sh*t, and started to use cheat notes when I play. I have seen heated discussions on Facebook about people using music cheat notes. Some are VERY against it, some are for. Obviously, I am PRO cheat notes. I frequently see bands where all the members have tablets attached to their mic stands. When I saw Mike Nesmith (of the Monkees) he used a tablet plunked right in front of his face for the whole show. Lucinda Williams uses a big ole three-ring binder on a music stand. Orchestras always use sheet music. But back to Springsteen. There were tele-prompters EVERYWHERE. Springsteen had about FIVE alone. The rest of the band either had tele-prompters or tablets. The lyrics to every song he sang were on those screens AS WELL AS THE IN BETWEEN SONG BANTER. Most performers use them now. Next time you want to give someone a hard time about using cheat notes remember that if The Boss can do it, anyone can!

Now get out there and support these local shows!

Rhode Island Blues Legend Greg Piccolo and Heavy Juice play Common Fence Music on February 27. Greg is best remembered as the hard driving, soulful singer, sax player and songwriter with Roomful of Blues. Piccolo has been following his own muse with Heavy Juice since the early ’90s. Now recognized as one of rhythm and blues’ most influential sax players, Greg’s CFM show is fresh from his late January appearance at Sax-O-Rama in Barcelona, Spain (CommonFenceMusic.org).

Stone Soup Coffeehouse opens after a winter break on March 5 with the Americana harmony trio The Boxcar Lilies. The Boxcar Lilies are Jenny Goodspeed (electric bass, guitar), Stephanie Marshall (washboard, guitar) and special guest artist Susan Cattaneo playing the role of the “alto Lily.” Multi-instrumentalist Jim Henry will accompany the trio on Dobro, mandolin and guitar. The music begins with Davey O opening (StoneSoupCoffeehouse.com).

The Courthouse Center for the Arts in West Kingstown presents Steely Dan tribute band Hey Nineteen on March 4 and Tom Rush, who is credited by Rolling Stone magazine for ushering in the era of the singer/songwriter, on March 5 (CourthouseArts.org).

Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland has Scottish fiddle/cello duo Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas on March 4 while award-winning contemporary Celtic band RUNA performs March 5 (riverfolk.org).

The 17th Annual Goddess Show happens on March 6 from 1 – 5pm at Aurora and will feature The Rafters, Jodi Jolt and the Volt, Sarah Rich & The Invincible We, Mary Day Band, comedian Jennie McNulty and host Karen O’Donnell. There will also be performances by Kristen Minskey’s TropiGals, Bettysioux Taylor, and more. This event is a lot of fun, has a lot of great talent and benefits Rhode Island Pride (PrideRI.com).

Legendary country rebel Johnny Cash comes to life in the re-creation show “Cash Is King” at the German Club in Pawtucket on March 6. Singer Brian Chicoine captures Cash’s trademark baritone, while his band delivers the infectious, driving rhythm of the Tennessee Three. Of course it wouldn’t be a Johnny Cash show without Mrs. Cash, June Carter, brought to life by Vicky St. Pierre on such classic duets as “Jackson.” With authentic costumes and stories from Cash’s eventful life, Cash Is King is the true Johnny Cash experience (SalsProductions.com).

Oh, by the way, it’s Rhode Island, it’s winter, it’s cold. Get over it. Don’t use that as an excuse not to go out!

Finally, if you are an undecided voter or want to support Bernie Sanders (and I certainly hope that you do!) please come to the RI Rocks for Bernie after work show on February 26 from 5 – 9pm at the One Way Gallery on Boon St in Narragansett. Esmeree Skye and I will be performing. That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. www.JohnFuzek.com

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