One of my friends has been asking me to tell her what my top ten concerts are. I told her that was really hard and told her maybe I could come up with a top three for her. I’ll probably end up somewhere in between. I’ve been thinking about what factors I would consider to put something in my top tier of concerts and I decided I probably couldn’t really rank the concerts I’ve been to. I’ve been to a lot of concerts and I wouldn’t begin to know how to decide which ones I liked more than another that is if I could even realistically remember what they all were off the top of my head. Instead I decided to answer a variation of the question and go ahead and put it in a blog post. Instead of ranking my top concerts I decided to talk about what concerts have been the most memorable for me for some reason or another. I’m not sure that would make them the best concerts I’ve ever seen, but they’re ones that stand out to me in my memory.
Neil Diamond at the Omni in Atlanta (probably)
This Neil Diamond concert had to go on the list because it was my very first concert ever when I was 10 or so. I don’t actually remember that much about it, but I know it was when we were living in Atlanta and that it was in some sort of arena, so I’m assuming it was at the Omni Center, which was where the Atlanta Hawks used to play basketball. I could be entirely wrong about that though. Even though I don’t remember much about that particular concert itself it is of course memorable to me because it was the first in a very long list of concerts I would go to in my life.
Christopher Paul Stelling at the Newport Folk Festival
I could put so many things from the Newport Folk Festival on here, but I’m refraining from making this one big post about Newport. There are a couple of sets that do deserve a mention here though. I didn’t actually know much about Christopher Paul Stelling before I went to see him on the Harbor Stage first thing on a Sunday morning at the Newport Folk Festival. It wound up being one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed. First of all Christopher Paul Stelling is this super intense acoustic guitar player. For much of his set it was just him on the stage with his guitar and he had the audience enraptured. It was kind of a singular experience to watch. Then as if the performance itself wasn’t enough it ended by him proposing to his girlfriend, who is a member of his band, on stage. It was kind of the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen at a concert.
Brandi Carlile at everywhere
There was no doubt that Brandi Carlile was going to wind up on this list. It’s hard to even pick any particular concert of hers to put on this list because they are all so amazing. She’s someone I could just see over and over again and never get tired of watching perform. Every time I see her I can’t wait to see her again. That was true from the very first time I saw her live at the Lyric Opera House to the most recent time at the 2018 Newport Folk Festival and everything in between. I have to give a special shout out to seeing her at The Beacon in New York City this past April partly because it was my first time at The Beacon which is a wonderful venue and second because I had a front row seat, which was amazing. The concert I’m going to single out though is her set at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival. I’ve gone back and listened to NPR Music’s recording of this set many a time when I need a pick me up. There was such a sense of hope at that time. It was like the high in the world when it seemed like we were standing on the top of the mountain and things really were moving in the right direction in the world before everything fell apart. I listen to this to remind myself that I once felt that hope and that hopefully I will one day again.
Cowboy Mouth at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem, NC
Cowboy Mouth is a New Orleans based band that I saw a whole lot of times when I was in college and in my early 20s. I gather they are still together and touring, but I lost track of them a long time ago. They are really outstanding and engaging performers. They were always about creating an atmosphere of positivity and energy. They are also an interesting band because the lead singer is also the drummer. I always enjoyed all their shows, but at one of the ones I saw at a now defunct little concert venue in Winston-Salem, NC called Ziggy’s not only did the lead singer crowd surf but he took his drum set out into the crowd with him and sat there drumming on top of the crowd. That’s some trust right there. It was pretty amazing. I should also shout out seeing them at the House of Blues in Chicago because I have an everlasting reminder of that show with the ringing in my right ear that has never gone fully away since that show 21 years ago. So thanks for the tinnitus I guess. By the way consider this your periodic reminder to always wear hearing protection at concerts. Love your ears. I wish I had started earlier in my life.
Tom Petty at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD
Tom Petty is one of my all-time favorite artists. For various reasons the first two times I saw him in concert I wasn’t there for the whole thing. I finally got to see him perform from top to bottom at Royal Farms Arena for his 40th anniversary tour. It was an amazing show and full of so much joy. It was kind of like one giant sing-a-long. It sadly was only a couple of weeks before he passed away, so it was also the last time I will ever get to see him. I’m happy he got to go out on a high note and that I was there to see it.
Holly Williams at the 9:30 Club
Holly Williams comes from a long line of country royalty as the granddaughter of Hank Williams and daughter of Hank Williams, Jr. After a car accident she was unsure if she’d be able to play and tour again so shifted her focus to other things. She now has a couple of stores and does some old house renovations in the Nashville area in addition to raising three young kids so she’s obviously keeping busy with other things, but I really do miss her music. I gather she plays every once and awhile still in Nashville, but unless something changes it’s unlikely I’ll get to see her again. This show was actually her opening for Jason Isbell the first time I ever saw him live. The song she got a lot of attention for on her final album was a song called “Waiting on June” which was about her grandparents on her mother’s side. It’s a beautiful song about their life long love that moved everyone in the audience to tears. I have never been at a show surrounded by people in tears because they were so moved by a song. It was a truly special moment that I won’t forget.
Dawes at The Ryman
I love Dawes and have seen them in concert many times. However, this particular show is on this list more for the venue than the band. I being who I am have a concert venue bucket list. The Ryman was right at the top of it. It was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry and is known as the church of country music. Whatever concert I first saw there was bound to wind up on this list no matter who it was. It is an amazing venue and I would love to see more shows there in the future. For now though the only one I’ve seen is Dawes. Their show there was fantastic. They played for a full three hours, but my husband taking me to this show as a present because he knew how much I wanted to see a show at the Ryman is really why this concert winds up on this list.
This was kind of a fun exercise to write a post off of someone else’s prompt. If anyone else has ideas of something they would like me to write about let me know. I definitely reserve the right to veto anything, but I’m definitely open to writing more posts based on things people ask me.