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)


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.

Rod, VH and more Inside Zach’s iPod

music musings, beaverdamusa.comWell, after a week in which we had mid-60’s temperature and snow within 36 hours, it is time to escape into the recesses of my mind.  Yep – it is time for Inside Zach’s iPod (Vol 2).  My iPod currently holds 3,994 songs ranging from easy listening to country to hard rock and I love hitting random shuffle on it.  To refresh your memory of how the game is played:

  • iPod is set to shuffle.
  • I will write about the first five songs that play.
  • I am not allowed to skip a song, unless it was previously included in a previous blog or is a repeat.

So you aren’t waiting any longer than you have to, here we go:

  • I’m O.K. (Styx) – this is from the Pieces of Eight album.  Pretty much a deep cut from that classic album.  Ironic that this comes on, considering I just say Styx with the Nashville Symphony.  Sadly, the first copy I had of this song was on the trusty 8-track.
  • Pleasure Dome (Van Halen) – a classic cut from the Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album.  Love the way this songs takes off after the short guitar intro.  Alex Van Halen beats the hell out of the skins on this one.  I remember seeing this tour – Alex did a drum solo right after and I was thinking what a beast he was to do that after this rocking song.  This also falls into the classification of a good “windows down, jams up” song.
  • Big Life (Night Ranger) – title song from the Big Life album.  Typical Night Ranger song with vocal harmonies and an anthem feel.  This song takes me back several years ago when I used to travel a lot for business.  Back then, we didn’t have iPods.  We had the trusty Walkman which played cassettes and had a radio.  The only problem with it – you chose your cassette and had to stick with it for the flight unless you wanted to try and keep up with multiple cassettes as you sat like sardines.  Well, I got real acquainted with this album one day on a flight from Seattle to Atlanta.  Probably cycled through it about three or four times.
  • I Don’t Want to Talk About It (Rod Stewart) – From an album entitled “If We Fall in Love Tonight”. Basically, it is a collection of love songs sung by Rod Stewart.  This was a Valentine’s present to my wife a few years ago and I downloaded it to the iPod. A great belly-rubbin’ (redneck for slow dancing) song.
  • In God’s Shadow (John Waite) – from the obscure Temple Bar album.  I have been a John Waite fan since his days with the Babys.  Waite has had a very durable career – from his solo stuff to Bad English; he doesn’t disappoint in my book. Having seen him a couple of times live hasn’t diminished my respect for him.  A great entertainer and this song has always been catchy to me.  This also falls into the aforementioned windows down classification.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this segment into the scary recesses of my mind.  Until next time, I will be lost in my iPod.


Hold the Stuffing and Pass the Rock ‘n Roll

musings 250_edited-1I was really having trouble coming up with a topic for this edition of Music Musings.  No new CD’s, concerts, or books since the last column.  No one really made me angry in the music world lately, so I was at my wits’ end.  Then it hit me!  Next week is Thanksgiving!  What am I thankful for musically?  While I am thankful for health, family, housing, employment, etc.; I have decided to express my thanks for specific musical things.  In no certain order, I am thankful for:

  • My girlfriend (and later wife) asking me to volunteer at the Nashville Junior League’s Balloon Festival back in the early 90’s.  Because of this, I was there to see the Moody Blues with the Nashville Symphony under the stars.  This was the first time I heard rock music and a symphony combined.
  • Eddie Van Halen working a paper route to pay for his drum kit as a child.  If he hadn’t, Alex Van Halen wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take over Eddie’s drums.  As a result, Eddie took up Alex’s guitar and the rest is history as they say.
  • The local choir director pushing me out of my comfort zone.  If she hadn’t, I wouldn’t be singing in the church choir where I have permanent seat on the back row where me and my fellow basses live in the basement of the musical range.
  • Moving to South Cheatham County where I have lived in Pegram and Kingston Springs.  If I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have made several friendships in the music world.  I treasure not only these friendships, but the music world I am connected to through them.
  • Les Paul wondering what an amplified guitar would sound like.
  • Getting to go to four of Charlie Daniels’ Volunteer Jams.  These concerts allowed me to see artists that I would have never seen before like James Brown, Roy Acuff, Quarterflash, Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchett, etc.  What is the Volunteer Jam?  Google it.
  • My 32 gb iPod that allows me to put 3,500+ songs on shuffle.
  • Living in Music City USA and getting to see things that only happen in Nashville.
  • Discovering Jimmy Buffett several years ago.  I get his lifestyle and him.
  • Becoming a Jimmy Buffett fan which allowed me to discover Mac McAnally.

Lastly, I would like to thank you – the readers of Music Musings on the BeaverDam blog.  While we may never meet, I hope my rambling stories give you a chance to escape the real world for a while and maybe stir up a memory of so.  Hopefully, you discovered a new artist or learned about something while reading my virtual birdcage liner.  Of course, thanks also go to the website and my college roomie and dear friend Barry for asking me one day to write for his site.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Pause for a second and be thankful for not just musical things, but for all the things we are blessed to have.

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.

Soundtrack of my Life music musings zach claytonSo as I sit here contemplating my next musing on Music Musings, it is the culmination of my 50th trip around the sun.  I joke that my chronological age is finally getting closer to my “feel like” age.  I am wondering if I really am 50 though.  I haven’t received the time-honored rite of passage into the next half century – the AARP card.

As I think back through my 50 years, some years aren’t there for various reasons (baby years, that one wild weekend in Key West, etc.).  But there is one thing that is always there – music.

Music is truly the soundtrack of our lives.  From the lullabies our parents sang to us are babies to the songs played at our funerals, music is always there with us.  As you think about each of the following situations in your own life – close your eyes and think about the song that comes to mind:

First concert: Eddie Money

  • What songs did you sing or play to your children when they were babies?  Mine was Harry Chapin’s Gold Medal Anthology and Jimmy Buffett’s Ballads (from the box set).
  • What artist was the first you ever saw in concert? – Mine was Eddie Money my sophomore year in high school at Vandy’s Memorial Gym.
  • What were your favorite slow dance (aka belly-rubbin’) songs in high school?  Mine were “After the Love is Gone” by Earth Wind & Fire,, “Babe” by Styx, and “Keep on Loving You” by REO, just to name a few.
  • What is your “go to” song for when your boy/girlfriend broke up with you?  Had to be “You Give Love A Bad Name” by Bon Jovi.
  • What is your favorite “pump me up” song?  Has to be Van Halen’s “Dreams” for me.
  • What song did you use for the first dance at your wedding?  We danced to “Groovy Kind of Love” by Phil Collins, but I made sure “When It’s Love” by Van Halen was in the playlist.
  • What one song do you want to be played at your funeral/memorial service?  If I had to pick one, it would be “The Dance” by Garth Brooks.

Go back and listen to these songs today.  Do they still stir up thoughts and emotions?  Enjoy the trip down memory lane. I’m off to see if iTunes will give an AARP discount.


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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