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 – PC version

music musings, beaverdamusa.comNo, the PC doesn’t stand for politically correct – if you know me, you are probably still laughing.  It is time to play Inside Zach’s iPod, but I am actually listening to iTunes on the computer.  To the new readers, I hit shuffle and then comment on each song. Please keep in mind that my wife and children’s music is in the mix – don’t judge.

  • Surrender – This Cheap Trick classic is always guaranteed to get my toe tapping and my head bobbing.  This version is from the Live at Budokan.  This group was one that always eluded me as far as live music.  I finally got to see this classic performed live this past summer.
  • Gentle on My Mind – This Glen Campbell hit has grown on me as I age.  I remember when it was popular in the 70’s.  If you don’t know, Glen is suffering from Alzheimer’s.  His struggle was documented in a documentary which followed him as he performed his farewell tour.  Yes, I am kicking myself for not going.  It was amazing to see how he could still play guitar as great as ever, but couldn’t recognize his wife.
  • Too Much Time on My Hands - Confession time.  I can’t stand this song.  I don’t know why, but it just grates on me.  Now, I am a pretty big Styx fan, but for some reason, this one just doesn’t do it for me.
  • Love is Just A Mystery – This is a deep cut from the Babys’ Union Jacks album.  My love for the Babys and John Waite has been the subject of a past blog.  Can’t think of much else to say – guess that is why it is a deep cut.
  • It’s About Time – this is one of the last three songs recorded by Sammy Hagar when he rejoined Van Halen for the farewell tour.  I was lucky enough to get to see this tour in Atlanta.  Sounds silly, but that allowed me to have closure knowing that it was probably the last time I would get to see Sammy with Eddie.  The last Sammy song I heard that night was When It’s Love.  By the way, I danced to that song at my wedding reception.

I realize this is kind of short and not too deep.  Some days are just like that I guess.  Until next time (hint – Miranda), be safe and Happy New Year.

Sammy vs. Dave: And the Better Van Halen Vocalist is…

music musings, beaverdamusa.comI have avoided this topic for my blog for a while now because I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how to present it, and it would probably be long enough for two blogs.  The topic? David Lee Roth vs. Sammy Hagar.  For the record, we will treat Van Halen III (with Gary Cherone) like a tequila-infused night at Panama City Beach’s Club La Vela.  Deny. Deny. Deny.

First some background – Van Halen has been my favorite band since their self-titled debut album was released in 1978.  I have been to probably close to 30 shows since the Fair Warning tour and often went to multiple shows on the same tour.  I have always been a fan of Eddie’s guitar work, Alex’s drumming, and Michael Anthony’s bass, and even DLR’s frontman antics for a while – then I got older.

When Sammy joined the band, he not only brought one of the best rock & roll voices, but he brought musicianship.  On his first tour, he was even gutsy enough to play guitar on stage with Eddie and even trade licks on “Only One Way to Rock”.  I was hooked on the Sammy era of Van Halen.  Looking back on the DLR era was like looking back at your high school shenanigans – they were childish and you wondered what the hell you were thinking.  All of a sudden, the martial arts moves, the sword twirling, and “I’m so f’ed up, I forgot the words” became an annoyance.  The sad thing about all the comings and goings of lead singers is that it keeps probably the greatest rock guitar player of all time from putting music out.

Eddie and Alex basically stayed in obscurity and didn’t put any new music out.  Sammy went on and put out several solo albums, created a new group called Chickenfoot (which rocks by the way), continued to tour, and just recently formed a new band called the Circle.  He would occasionally have Michael Anthony playing with him.  Eddie then kicked Michael Anthony out of Van Halen and replaced him with his son, Wolfgang.  While one can understand wanting to play with your son, bass players can be replaced, but the distinctive backing vocals of Michael Anthony can’t be replaced.

If you haven’t heard, Van Halen has released a live album recorded in Tokyo back in 2012.  Eddie was quoted in an article as saying they record basically every show, but they let DLR go through and pick the best vocal show.  Did they “fix” some vocals in post-production?  Who knows?  I do know that in 2012, they cancelled half the tour and played the Tokyo show after several weeks off.  Based on the Nashville show (which was about five shows before the tour ended), DLR’s voice needed rest or even retirement.

Van Halen kicked off their tour with an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show where they performed on Hollywood Boulevard.  About that same time, Sammy releases a live cut of the Circle playing the Sammy-era classic “When It’s Love”.  It provides an opportunity to compare both lead singers (much like the highly-touted Sam and Dave tour).  Sammy’s voice still sounds great while sadly, DLR has become even more clownish in the way he acts on stage, his voice is shot, and he skips words on basically every song.  Between DLR’s crappy vocals and the missing sound of Michael Anthony, just give me a karaoke track of Eddie playing and I will be happy.  However, I will let you decide:

Musing in Nashville


P.S.  For EVH fans, the Van Halen New Desk ( has a great article on how DLR cut his nose on Fallon ().  The best part of the article was the fan video which captured about five minutes of EVH “noodling “while they kill time waiting on DLR to get his nose taped.

2014 Christmas Wishes

musings 250_edited-1Christmas. It’s coming, and in fact, it will be here within a week of when I write this.  Guess I had better be making that list for the Christmas Eve Wally World run.  I naturally thought about writing about my favorite Christmas songs, but then I wondered if I did that last year.  My crack investigative skills revealed that I mused about my favorite Christmas songs last year (    As I write this, Kenny Chesney just confirmed my musing for this week.  I was toying with the idea of compiling a musical Christmas list when KC’s “A Lot of Things Different” came on the iPod.  So here is my Christmas list of all things musical.

  • Another chance to see Glen Campbell at the Ryman – For some reason, I passed on his farewell tour when it stopped at the Ryman.  Wish I had that one back.
  • New music from Eddie Van Halen – Give me anything Eddie.  Transpose the phone book into music and send it out.  Been too long.
  • A Nashville appearance by Sammy Hagar – Sammy is slowing cutting down his touring schedule.  Would like to have one more chance to see him solo.
  • A clear way to store of my family’s music on the cloud and we all have access to it – but keep e-mails, etc. separate.  This is my project for the new year.
  • That year’s worth of concerts at the Ryman they keep advertising on Facebook – The Ryman has become my favorite concert venue and they are getting some great acts.  Of course, I realize I am now old – I don’t recognize the names of acts that sell out two nights there while my favorites wind up on Groupon.
  • Another chance to talk to Charlie Daniels – saw him in the valet parking line waiting for his car at Vanderbilt Medical Center this past year.  My car was there and traffic was waiting on me to get in and drive off, so I didn’t talk to him.
  • An unlimited iTunes card – I keep coming up with these songs to download…..

I realize that I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams, so I am content with just continuing to blog and have you read it – well, except for the Sammy show.  I will not be appearing on your monitor until after Christmas, so I hope that you have a great Christmas, enjoy time with loved ones, and think about those less fortunate.  Also, if you could, please forward the musing to your friends, post to your Facebook wall, or re-tweet.  It is the gift that is cheap and hopefully will make you think occasionally.

Merry Christmas!


The Red Rocker, Unplugged

musings 250_edited-1If you know me or have read any of my past blogs, you know that I love me some rock and roll.  As I often say – “if it’s too loud, you are too old!”  But you should also know that my musical tastes are pretty varied.  One of my favorite rock & roll singers is Sammy Hagar.  In the pre-Van Halen days, I liked his Standing Hampton & the very popular V.O.A. albums.  And yes, I think he blows Dave away as far as the front man for Van Halen, but that is another topic for another day.  Post Van Halen though is some of his best work.  He has embraced the beach bum persona much like Chesney and the master himself – Buffett.

I was thrilled to learn that Sammy recently released an acoustic album entitled Lite Roast.  He has a couple of extensive interviews posted online that are quite interesting.  He describes the process of making the album with his longtime Wabo guitarist, Vic Johnson.  If you haven’t seen Vic live – you are missing an amazing guitarist.  He can play the Van Halen tunes note for note and his guitar version of the piano-heavy Right Now will knock your socks off.  Anyway, the premise is that Sammy & Vic went into a studio with two acoustic guitars and let the tape roll, so to speak.  No overdubs, tricks or anything.  As Sammy puts it – these songs are what he heard in his head as he was writing them – stripped down, just the guitar and vocals.

Within the track list (below) are two Van Halen classics – Finish What Ya Started & Dreams.  He talks about how he had to lower the key for Dreams.  He also goes on to say how when Van Halen recorded the song, it had the highest notes in any song he had ever done and when he went there, the folks in the recording studio went nuts.  If I had to name a favorite, it would probably be Eagles Fly.  From his lone solo album while he was the fronting Van Halen the first time, this has always been a favorite of mine.  This song would typically be the song Sammy would do acoustically (with the full band finishing it) during his “solo” part of a Van Halen show.

Sammy talks about the fact that he really doesn’t need to tour or put out albums for the money.  He does because he wants to and to give his fans something.  For that, I am thankful.  He isn’t afraid to put something out that is totally different from anything he has done before.  He can do that – he is Sammy.

Here are the tracks on Lite Roast:

  • Red Voodoo
  • One Sip
  • Finish What Ya Started
  • Eagles Fly
  • The Love
  • Father Sun
  • Dreams
  • Deeper Kinda Love
  • Who Has the Right?
  • Sailin’
  • Halfway to Memphis

Related Links: – Rolling Stone interview about the new  album.

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.

What I Hope For in 2014 music musings zach claytonAs I sit here on the first day of January, I am thinking about the year ahead.  I really haven’t made any personal resolutions, but my mind started wandering and thinking about a wish list for 2014 – musically. Some of these may really happen while others don’t have the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell. So, in no certain order other than the way they popped in my head, here are my 2014 musical wishes:

  • By Felixggenest (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    Eddie Van Halen in Quebec City, 2008. (Credit: Felixggenest  [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

    New Van Halen music – Eddie Van Halen’s talent is too great not to be heard. Unless Sammy & Eddie kiss & make-up (snowball), it could be an instrumental album. The DLR vs. Sammy dilemma will have to wait for another column.
  • Cheaper concert tickets – I know the cost of touring and supporting the entourages can be expensive, but give a brother a break. There are several shows that come through that I would love to see, but just can’t see forking out $75 for nosebleed seats to watch the Eagles on the video screen because they are two football fields away.
  • Less angry music – seems like a lot of the newer rock music was written while someone’s arm was being removed with a rusty hacksaw by the writer’s ex-girlfriend. While I am all for large and loud music, the primal scream music just isn’t my gig.
  • More avenues for smaller bands – the days of “hitting it big” may really be behind us. With the internet and social media, many musicians can create a following without even having the famed “record company contract.”  However, there must places for these folks to play and people have to go listen to them and buy their music.
  • Cheap Trick to play Nashville – I have always wanted to see Cheap Trick live. Back in high school, they played the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. By the time my parents said I could go, the tickets were already sold out. They attempted to play here about three years ago with Def Leppard, but the show got cancelled and the rescheduled show didn’t include them on the bill.
  • Meet more music people – there is a list of folks that I would love to meet and I keep hoping it will happen. The list includes names like Eddie, Jimmy, Stevie, Sammy, Michael, etc.

In closing, I guess I should make some resolutions since it is January 1.  I resolve to:

  • Expand my musical horizons – listen to music that I normally wouldn’t. Who knows, I may like it.
  • See more live music – it doesn’t have to be in an arena or stadium. The local writer’s night may include some great talent. So what if they may never make it – it is enjoyable to listen to them.
  • Support local music – whether the trio from down the street is playing in the bar downtown or at the Fourth of July picnic, they have the guts to get up and share their craft. The least I can do is support it.

Click here to read about some up and coming musicians.)
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