My Favorite Concert Experiences

music musings, beaverdamusa.comIn the past, I have mused on what were my favorite concerts.  This musing is about my favorite concert experiences or moments.   While the particular show, may or may not have made my list of favorite concerts, these particular moments stand out for me.  So in no particular order, other than how they came to my brain, here are some of my favorite memories:

  • The opening of Styx’s Paradise Theatre show in Nashville – I was standing within a person or two of the front row as A.D. 1928 starts with a lone janitor sweeping the floor in front of a large curtain.  True to the album order, Rockin the Paradise kicks off with the curtain dropping, lights flashing, and pyrotechnics for days.  The shock was amazing.
  • Sammy Hagar – 5150 tour in Memphis -   This was Sammy’s third show with Van Halen and it was so full of energy.  The sound guy must have figured he could over power any acoustic because my ears ached for two days.  Also, Sammy & Eddie both climbed up on the lighting catwalk above the stage.  Sammy even stood on the railing and leaned out over the crowd only hanging on by one hand.  Two nights later in Nashville it was only Sammy on the catwalk.  My theory on why is in a later bullet.
  • Jimmy Buffett – W.O. Smith Music School benefit at Tennessee Performing Arts Center– the opening song was Jimmy coming out barefooted and sitting on the edge of the stage with his feet dangling.  He launched into It’s My Job as he started an unforgettable night of truly acoustic music.
  • Van Halen in Atlanta – Sammy reunion show – Sammy left Van Halen without any prior hint so many Van Halen fans felt like they never got a chance to say good-bye.  This tour was that chance.  It was obvious that this would be his last tour with the band.  When It’s Love was the last song they played and I loved the fact that one of my favorite VH songs was the last one I heard Sammy sing with them.
  • Van Halen – 1984 (I think) tour in Nashville at the Municipal Auditorium – my friend Joe and I had aged enough to know that trying to get up front was too much hassle, but loved standing on the floor.  We had discovered that the sound was awesome at the back of the floor by the sound board.  Well, we look over and who is watching the show about ten feet from us but Valerie Bertinelli – Eddie’s wife at the time.  [This is why I think Eddie didn’t get on the catwalk]
  • Alabama A&M Homecoming – My roommate and blog host, his future (and current) wife, and I noticed that there was a great show happening at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville.  Midnight Starr, Zap, featuring Roger (never figured out which one was Roger), and the Gap Band were playing.  We head down to see it and then realize it was Alabama A&M’s homecoming.  To say we stood out is an understatement.  Let’s just leave it at that.
  • Van Halen – Atlanta & Nashville – Van Halen (with Sammy) was touring and kicked off their tour at an amphitheater in Atlanta.  There is something about the opening night of a tour – the band is so jacked up with energy.  Well, we spent the night in Atlanta and then drove back to Nashville the next day to [you guess it] see them again at Starwood amphitheater.  It was quite the experience.
  • That Nashville Moment – this occurs at any concert in Nashville.  It always seems that when artists perform here, they always pull another star out on stage with them.  Whether it was Ann Wilson with Emmylou Harris and Allison Kraus or Jimmy Buffett having his former neighbor John Kay (Steppenwolf) come out, it is always a treat.

Thanks for indulging me as I stroll down memory lane.  Hopefully, there are many more moments in the future.

Musing in Nashville


Inside Zach’s iPod – Vol. 4 (and Maybe the Last)

music musings, beaverdamusa.comPlease – stop your crying.  I know this Musing’s title sent you into an emotional come-apart, but you will survive and make it to tomorrow.

Why possibly the last?  Well, we combined my old PC and my wife’s PC onto a new PC at home.  First, Apple doesn’t make it easier to transfer songs on an iPod to a new computer if you don’t use the cloud.  Ironically, my wife was paranoid about losing the pictures and I was worried about what else – the music.  Now the new combined iTunes library has over 5,000 songs.  I am still having trouble synching the new library with my old iPod, so I think I am going to have to reset the iPod to make it synch – thus the possibility of this being the last blog with the current iPod.  So, if you are still with me, I will hit “shuffle” one last time and write about the first five songs that pop up –

zach's ipodSomeday I Will – Jimmy Buffett – This newer Buffett song is from the Far Side of the World album.  Anytime I hit shuffle, chances are there will be a Buffett song in the first 10 songs because I have so many of his songs.  This song is about setting your mind on doing something and taking that first step.    Someday I will exercise…..  Well, that could be a long way off.

Hear About It Later – Van Halen – This deep cut on the under-appreciated Fair Warning is a classic.  From Michael Anthony’s great backing vocals to Alex’s cowbell in the middle of the song, this is truly a great song to crank up, roll the window down, and cruise.

Rhiannon (Piano Version) – Stevie Nicks – This different take on the Fleetwood Mac classic is basically an “unplugged” version with a piano as the primary instrument.  Stevie could sing the white pages or the Marshall Andy Waffle House jingle (old school Knoxville peeps know) and I would think it was great.  She is definitely one of rock’s royalty.

End of the Innocence – Don Henley – From his monster album of the same title, this is a favorite Henley song of mine.  Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this album received a lot of airplay in my apartment.  Henley has one of those distinct voices that you recognize right off the bat.  Like everyone else, he has a “country” album coming out this month (September).  Of course, the Eagles’ music would definitely be country in today’s world.  I remember seeing Henley at Starwood around that time and appreciated his devotion to his roots – on any Eagles’ song, he would play the drums.

Born to Fly – Runaway Home – As I briefly mentioned a couple of blogs back, Runaway Home is a local band from Kingston Springs, where I live.  This particular cut is from their sophomore album There’s A Paradise.  Like most of their songs, the harmonies and violin sounds are out front .  You should check this band out online and snag their CD.

Well, even if I get the iPod reformatted and synched, I wonder if there is room for the additional songs added to my library?  Maybe the next version will be from my iTunes vs. the iPod.

Until next time –


Top 5… Make that My Top 7 Concerts

music musings, beaverdamusa.comA song came on the other day while mowing and it caused me to think about seeing that artist in concert.  I told myself (I do that while mowing) that it was definitely a top five concert.  I went “Ah Ha!” – not because I ran over a stump, but because I had my next Musing topic.  I started accumulating them in my mind and quickly got to seven.  The thought of going on until I got to ten ended because I was finished mowing, so I kept it at seven.  So in no particular order, here are my top seven concerts of all time –

  • Jimmy Buffett (A.O. Smith benefit) – A.O. Smith school in Nashville provides musical instruments to underprivileged children.  This fundraiser was held at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville.  Jimmy had his acoustic guitar and a band of two – former Coral Reefer Josh Leo on guitar and the great Mac McAnally on piano and guitar.  The opening number was Mac’s “It’s My Job” for which Buffett walked out, sat on the edge of the stage (barefooted) and proceeded to sing.  The rest of the night was a trip acoustically through his hits and other deep cuts.
  • Styx with the Nashville Symphony – I recently blogged about this show (Styx with the Nashville Symphony), so I won’t go into great detail.  This show was really a once-in-a-lifetime deal.  I really wish I had a recording of this show.
  • Van Halen – Atlanta (September 2004) – This was the last show Sammy Hagar played with Van Halen and based on recent media mudslinging, it will be the last.  If you have been around me or read my blogs, you know I am a Sammy fan, so I was disappointed when he left the band in 1996.  He rejoined the band in 2004 for a tour which provided me a chance to see him and the band together one more time.  Ironically, they closed the show with one of my favorites – When It’s Love.
  • Moody Blues – Edwin Warner Park (circa 1993).  Back in the day, there was a fundraiser in Edwin Warner Park (Nashville) which featured a couple of days of hot air balloon rides, food, and hot air balloon races.  On the closing night, an outdoor concert was put on in the park.  My girlfriend at the time (now wife) worked at a local bank and volunteered at the event for the bank, so I tagged along like a good boyfriend.  The show that night was the Moody Blues with the Nashville Symphony.  We stayed for the show thinking “why not – it’s free?”   The combination of the symphony, the Moody Blues, and the cool evening under the stars proved to be a great environment.  Maybe it was the surprise factor, but anyway, it was a great show.  This was my first “rock” concert pairing with a symphony.
  • Styx – Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium (circa 1981) – My friend Joe bought tickets to this show on the Paradise Theatre tour for my birthday.  We were able to get to the show early and stand down front at the stage.  We were about two people back from the stage which gave us a great view of the stage.  The show opened with A.D. 1928 (slow, short piano introduction) and then Rockin’ The Paradise kicked in with flashpots and lights that I swear took some off the top of my head (maybe that’s what happened).
  • Stevie Nicks – Starwood Amphitheatre (circa 2000) – Lori & I had tickets to this show and a co-worker also had tickets but couldn’t go, so she asked me to sell her tickets if I could.  When we got to the venue, we noticed her seats were on the third row!  Needless to say I didn’t have any takers on trying to sell her tickets.  Maybe the fact that I stood in front of a speaker and whispered “who needs two?” had something to do with it.  Anyway, about halfway through the show, we got to go to the front of the stage and even got to shake Stevie’s hand (sigh).  As always, that lady delivered.
  • Van Halen – Memphis Coliseum (1985) – This was the first tour with Sammy as the lead singer and the second stop on the tour.  The volume was out of sight so much that my ears rang for two days.  There was a raw energy between the band members and they were having a blast.  If you have ever seen the video of that tour – Live Without A Net, you know Sammy climbs upon the catwalk and swings off it as well as stands on top of its railing.  Well, in Memphis, Eddie did the same thing.  Funny thing was that a week or two later when we saw them in Nashville, Eddie didn’t follow Sammy up there – my hunch was that Val (wife at the time) had something to do with that.  The only other time I saw that type of energy was when I saw them on the opening night of a tour in Atlanta.  While there were bumps in the show, it was a natural feeling without any polish.

Well, I am sure there are others that could challenge these if I thought long enough.  Thanks for reading and hope you have a safe Fourth of July.

Zach, Musing in Music City (home of the largest fireworks display)


Why Do You Need a Quarter for the Phone?

musings 250_edited-1Often I like to listen to my iPod while I am at work with the playlist being all 3,800+ songs on random.  Occasionally, I will get Blue Christmas in July or Buffett in the middle of a snowstorm; but I like the variety.  I will sometimes find a tune I hadn’t heard in a while.

The other day, Jim Croce’s Operator came on and it dawned on me – the younger generations may not know what the heck Jim is talking about.  Have they even seen a pay phone and if they did, it sure wasn’t a dime; and what the heck is an operator and why was he talking to her?  What did she do?

Well, this got me thinking about some songs and what lyrics don’t make sense today.  Here is what I came up with so far:

  • If you are under the age of 40, Sammy Hagar’s I Can’t Drive 55 probably is confusing.  Does his car not go that fast?
  • The drive-in mentioned where Jimmy Buffett “committed a little mortal sin” in Grapefruit Juicy Fruit might as well be on Mars.  The kids are probably thinking “they drove in where?”
  • A deep cut of Jimmy Buffett’s called This Hotel Room talks about “…puttin’ a quarter in the magic fingers to make you feel alright”.  Don’t even want to go there.
  • For the country fan, Ronnie Milsap sang about calling someone “…from a phone booth in the rain” on Smoky Mountain Rain.  Are folks wondering if the Verizon kiosk at the mall got flooded.
  • Finally, while the Georgia Satellites talk about having a “little change in my pocket going jingalang alang” and using that to “call you on the telephone” on Keep Your Hands to Yourself, once again the younger generation is wondering why you need change to make a call.  Why not just text her?

I am sure there are more out-of-date references, but I will let you comment on the ones you know.  While not musically related, the kids don’t understand what it means to roll the windows down.  Will the kids today be looking back 30 years from now reminiscing about twerking?

I doubt it.

Vegas or Key West for the Dogs? Maybe neither?

barks between beagles,“Oh, boy! Leashes!”

“Yippee! Where we going? Where we going? Where we going?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care. I just know I love to go.”

“Let’s play the game!”

“Okay, you go first.”

“Okay. I say we are going to Vegas, baby!”

“And what would you do in Vegas?”

“Go see Britney Spears! Hit me baby one more time. I still have that school girl outfit from Halloween a few years back.”

“You were adorable — a little sleazy, but in an adorable sort of way.”


“But I have bad news.”

“We’re not going to Vegas?”

“Probably not.”

“You have no faith. You’re so jaded.”

“Okay, it’s your turn. Where do you wish we were going?”

“I say we are going… to… Key West!”

“I could so go to Key West.”

“I know. We could hang with Jimmy Buffett, get us some of those drinks with umbrellas…”

“… and lay on the beach.”

“That’s lie.”

“No, I’m telling the truth.”

“No, it’s lie on the beach, not lay on the beach.”

“Dang, why do you have to nerd everything up? I’m over here having a fantasy about going to the beach, and you’re correcting my grammar.”

“Well, you can be right, or you can be wrong.”

“Okay, Miss Smarty Pants, we could sit on the beach. Now can we move on?”

“Hey, here’s a question: would you rather be Jimmy Buffett or Warren Buffett?”

“That’s a hard one. I guess I would rather be –”

“– dang it!”


“We’re turning toward the kennel.”

“Shoot! No Britney. No Jimmy. No drinks with little umbrellas.”

“I love the kennel, though!”

“Me, too! We can just lay around all day.”

“That’s lie.”

“No, I’m serious…”

“I swear if you were a squirrel, you would never remember where you hid the first nut.”

Mac McAnally: The Songwriter’s Songwriter music musings zach claytonThe older I get, the harder it is to impress me musically. Call me a music curmudgeon, but after hundreds of live shows, the “wow” moments are rare. A double “wow” took place on Friday March 21, 2014 at the Franklin Theatre. Mac McAnally. If you know about Mac, that is all I need to say. If you don’t know Mac, read on.

Officially, Mac is a singer, songwriter, producer, and a musician. He is the reigning CMA Musician of the Year and that is a spot he has held for 6 years running. His songs have graced the albums of country stars from Alabama to Sawyer Brown to Kenny Chesney and some beach bum named Jimmy Buffett.

zach clayton, mac mcanally,

Zach Clayton and Mac McAnally.

I first learned of Mac at a Buffett show at the old Starwood Amphitheater (sigh). Buffett would introduce “Nashville and Muscle Shoals’ own – Mac McAnally” and they would do a couple of songs together. Over time, I would always see him playing at Buffett’s Nashville shows and noticed that my favorite Buffett songs were those written (or co-written) by Mac. Through the years I was lucky enough to see him a few times:

  • A benefit concert at a mega-church in Brentwood with Mac, Skip Ewing, Paul Overstreet, the late Paul Davis.
  • A Mac only show at the Harbor Docks restaurant/bar in Destin, FL. There were only 30 people there that night.
  • A monthly gospel-themed show called Sam’s Place at the Ryman hosted by Gary Chapman.

I mention those so you can appreciate that Mac doesn’t do major tours or a lot of solo shows. His main gig these days is being a permanent member of Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band.

The setting was the Franklin Theatre in downtown Franklin, TN. It was a very intimate setting with probably only 225 or so seats. The show sold out in less than a week. If you have ever watched VH1’s “Storytellers” show, this was the setting. Before every song, Mac would get introduce the song, explaining the deeper meaning, why it was important, etc. For the majority of his almost two hour set, it was just him, his six different guitars, and a grand piano. Below are the most memorable moments for me:

  • Telling the story of how he met Chet Atkins for the first time and Chet was asking him how impressed he was with a “flutter” he did on the guitar on the second track of side 2 of his first album.
  • Having the set list in his phone which he checked occasionally to see what was next.
  • Telling the story of getting his first gig in honky-tonks making $250/week at the age of 13.
  • Kenny Chesney calling to say that he wanted to record a Mac song. Not a particular song, but any song – “You pick it out”.
  • Buffett hearing Mac’s first album and telling him that he loved it and that it was special. Mac said that became the beginning of not only a musical relationship but a strong friendship.
  • Talking about trying year after year to learn a particular part in Duane Allman’s “Little Martha”, only to learn that it was two guitars. He played this as his final number, perfectly, on one guitar.
  • Bringing fellow Coral Reefer Peter Mayer and percussionist Eric Darken on stage for a few numbers. Darken was in the studio with Chesney & Mac when they worked out “Down the Road”.
  • Having his Facebook followers choose one song out of three to be included in the set list.
  • Mac invited the people in the audience to meet him in the lobby after the show. He said he would talk, sign, and take pictures for as long as it took. He did.
mac mcanally,

Mac McAnally plays the Franklin Theatre, Franklin, Tenn., March 21, 2014.

Well, I guess I have gushed enough about the show. In summary, it was a rare chance to sit and listen to one of the great musicians and storytellers in this town do his work.  He is a true songwriter’s songwriter and a musician’s musician.


For a nine minute primer on Mac, go to:

P.S. For the purists, here is the set list:

  • Blame It on New Orleans
  • Café on the Corner
  • Miracle
  • All These Years
  • Socrates (the song with the flutter Chet asked about)
  • This Time
  • Junk Cars
  • Medley – Old Flame/Two Dozen Roses/Thank God for You
  • Down the Road (with Peter Mayer)
  • Meanwhile (with Peter Mayer)
  • The City (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • (Nothing Like) A Sunny Day (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken) – Facebook followers choice
  • Singing in Your Cage (Peter Mayer solo song)
  • On Account of You (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • Heard It Through the Grapevine (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • Back Where I Come From (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • It’s My Job – [my personal favorite]


  • A Pirate Looks at 40 – tribute to Jimmy Buffett
  • Little Martha – Duane Allman song (see above)

The only downside is that with a catalog as large as Mac’s, there are always those left out songs such as You First, Southbound, Changing Channels, Love in the Library etc.

Favorite Christmas Songs

Favorite Christmas Songs
From Handel’s “Messiah” to
“A White Trash Christmas”

Jimmy Buffett

Who also has a Christmas Birthday? This guy. (Image via US Navy, public domain)

Well, this will be the last Music Musings column before Christmas and what better topic than Christmas songs. I was creating my Christmas playlist on the iPod the other day and realized that I have a large number of Christmas songs that run the gamut from classical/traditional to modern. The list below (in no particular order other than my random thoughts) includes individual songs, albums, shows, etc.  For what it is worth, here you go:

  • Merry Christmas Alabama (Jimmy Buffett) – While this song includes the word “Alabama,” it is still one of my favorite songs and is on his Christmas album – Christmas Island. Jimmy basically chronicles “…all the places, and faces” that he has lived and known through the years. Ironically, JB’s birthday is on Christmas Day.
  • Guitar Christmas (Steve Wariner) – This instrumental album is a hidden gem. Have a party going on & need some Christmas music in the background? Then this is your choice. Steve displays his Certified Guitar Player designation on Christmas favorites. As with Buffett, Steve has a Christmas birthday.
  • A Baby Changes Everything (Faith Hill) – Yes, I have a Faith Hill Christmas album loaded in my iPod. Actually, it is my wife’s CD. This single talks about Mary and “How A Baby Changes Everything.”  Of course, Faith could sing the phone book and it would sound great. Both song and rendition are great on this one.
  • Lost Christmas Eve (Trans Siberian Orchestra) – The TSO fuses rock music with orchestra instruments. Their take on some classic Christmas songs and their original songs are over the top. The musicians in TSO are uber-talented and their stage show rivals any rock show that I have seen.
  • Hallelujah Chorus (from Handel’s Messiah) – This classical piece always gives me goose bumps, whether I am listening to it or singing it. I have the opportunity to sing with a choir and when we do this, it is special. I also love the tradition of standing whenever this is played or sung.
  • A Very Special Christmas – Volume I (Various) – Originally released in 1987 as a fundraiser for Special Olympics, this album featured various popular artists singing traditional as well as original Christmas songs. It runs the gamut from Run D.M.C.’s Christmas in Hollis to Stevie Nicks’ Silent Night. While there have been numerous others and approximately $100 million has been raised for Special Olympics, this one still holds a special place that none of the sequels do. 
  • White Trash Christmas (Zach Tison) – If you can find this, go get it now. Heard this originally on the Rick & Bubba radio show years ago.  It is a catchy tune which talks about buying Grandpa a “carton of cigarettes,” “Momma’s the Queen of One-Stop Shopping,” “take shelter under the double-wide,” and a cousin who likes to hold his sister. If there ever was a theme song for Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation, this is it.
  • O Holy Night (Martina McBride) – A former radio personality in Nashville once described Martina as “two lungs and a larynx.”  If anyone can do this traditional hymn justice, it is Martina.

As you can see, my list is varied. Our individual moods vary, so why can’t our music?  So as I put the iPod on shuffle, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Finest Craft Beers from America’s Best Micro Breweries- 728x90 banner