While there hasn’t been a ton of journal-worthy excitement lately (obviously), the past month was notable for a number of incredible musical events.
When I was a kid, Paul Simon’s Graceland album was one of the very first albums I remember thinking was my own personal musical discovery – not something I bought because it was on the radio or because everyone else was listening to it, but that I owned and listened to on repeat because it was music that appealed to me. When it was announced that this year’s tour was Paul Simon’s farewell tour I snagged two tickets, and on May 23 Audrey and I sat down to say goodbye to a singer who had shaped my taste in music since I was a kid. At 76 years of age he still had plenty of energy, and the program covered 50 years of music in a way that reminded you of how much of an influence he’s had on our culture. When he came out for the final encore with a single spotlight and an acoustic guitar to play “Sounds of Silence”, it was one of those rare goosebump-inducing moments where the realization that that guy is singing that song and you are lucky enough to be there and hear it. All in all a very special night.
Six weeks later we trekked up to one of our favorite venues, the Mountain Winery in the hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay. You can’t go wrong with a pre-show dinner in a winery, a 2400 seat venue with views of the Bay, and a stage set in front of a historic winery cellar. The first of the two shows we saw was the Indigo Girls, one of the few groups where Audrey’s musical tastes and my own overlap. There’s something special about seeing singer-songwriters in a small venue – the energy in the crowd is different, and the feeling takes you back to singalongs around the fire at summer camp – and this show did not disappoint, with audience members occasionally yelling out requests, and the ladies on stage more often than not going “yeah, let’s do that” and then launching into the requested song. Despite Emily apparently having a bit of a cold that caused her to lose a few notes, this was another very memorable evening.
Night two at the Mountain Winery featured Steve Martin and Martin Short, which the pre-show marquis jokingly advertised as “See them before they’re dead”. We’d seen Steve Martin’s musical act with Edie Brickell and the Steep Canyon Rangers twice before, but this was more of a comedy show, with a couple of musical interludes. Our seats were probably within a hundred feet of the stage, so obviously it was amazing to see a couple of comedy legends in person, but as good as the comedy was, I think the music Steve Martin is creating is even better – a performance by the Steep Canyon Rangers brought the house down, and Steve Martin on banjo is a sight to behold.
These shows were all a reminder of how lucky I am to be living a life filled with incredible experiences – many days pass by and are quickly forgotten, but seeing Paul Simon in the Hollywood Bowl, or Steve Martin under the stars in a winery, are those rare special occasions that get etched into the memory banks for all time.