I guess I really need to blow off the cobwebs of my dusty old blog and start giving it a little more attention. Honestly I’m not sure why I have had a lack of motivation to contribute more posts here. But I’m going to try to put forth a little more gumption and get this mothertrucker back on track. The year 2013 was a diverse and fun concert year for me, both the venues and the artists. My concert year got off to a slow start, I didn’t attend my first show until April. In fairness to me…not a lot of acts like to come to Minnesota in the dead of winter. But the first show of the year was the always terrific, always eccentric Todd Snider at the historic Fitzgerald Theater in St.Paul. To make a good show even better, Jason Isbell (Drive By Truckers) was not only was the opening act but he also joined Todd on stage for the 2nd half of the show. I’m not sure but I think this was my 6th or 7th Todd Snider show and every one has been tremendous. In July we attended the LP Tour at Target Field for Kimmy’s birthday. Kim was there for the Gear Daddies & I was there for Soul Asylum (Mathew Sweet and Big Head Todd & the Monsters were also on the bill). It was a unique show where each act played an entire album start to finish. To hear Dave and Soul Asylum do “Grave Dancer’s Union” in it’s entirety was pretty sweet. The only downside to the event was that it was a chilly summer night in Minnesota that required a sweatshirt in July. Well that and the massive hangover the following day, but sometimes that just goes with the territory.
August brought around a show that I had been looking forward to for most of the year. It was not just the return of my friend Joe Firstman to the Cities…but a show celebrating
the 10th anniversary of the release of his classic (well to me at least) “The War of Women” album at the 7th Street Entry. The idea was that he would play the album from start to finish…and he almost, kinda did. Highlight of the show was when he played “Buy Me A Bourbon” at my request and we christened it with a shot of Makers Mark. This was my 20th time seeing Joe live and each show is unique and awesome. He’s the best artist you’ve never heard of. For this show my cousin Richard and his wife Amber joined me & Kimmy for a fun hazy night of frivolity. The only downside of the evening was the absence of the talented Toby Weaver….missed ya buddy.
The end of August brought the show of the year. I make no apologies for being a huge Jimmy Buffett fan. I know quite a few people that are snobs when it comes to music and look down there noses at acts like Jimmy. There are many reasons why Jimmy is an artist that I love. He has great drinking songs, sing a long songs and songs about escapism from the cold mundane to the tropics. I’m on board with all that shit. But mostly it’s fun. I had talked for years about making the trek to Alpine Valley in southern Wisconsin to see the annual Buffett show there. I had always heard what an unbelievable time was to be had there.
But this year Kim bought the tickets and we actually did it. It was everything I ever heard it was….multiplied by 100. I had not seen Jimmy since 1995 (he almost never comes to Minnesota and hadn’t been there since 2003). We brought my parents, who both love Jimmy but had never seen him (that’s right…I went with my parents…and had a blast). The parking lot at Alpine Valley is entertainment enough.
It is impossible to truly appreciate the chaos of the tailgating that goes on there…Drunken Mayhem might be close…unless you’ve experienced it. Once inside, the show was a blast from the front row of the lawn seats. The night was made even better by having another favorite of mine, Jackson Browne as the opening act. I think that this show will become an annual event for us.
No doubt it is a bit of an expensive trip for a concert….but worth every penny.
Of course each Labor Day weekend is spent at our cabin in Northwest Wisconsin. Part of this weekend ritual is attending the Shell Lake Street Dance. While not technically a concert…there is a band there. I started attending this years ago with my cousin Jay and his wife Smashly, but they have not come up the last few years. This year though my cousin Chris came along with me & Kim to the street dance and we had a blast.
In June I heard a new band on Outlaw Country on XM and loved the song so much I ordered the CD without having heard anything else. It came in the mail and was on constantly for the next several months. The band was Houndmouth and in October (right around my birthday) they made a trip to Minneapolis and played at the 7th Street Entry. What an awesome young band. Their sound reminds me of the Band, Wilco and the Cordovas. Also they were able to deliver that sound live. When this show was over I looked at Kim and told her that we would never see this band play in such a small venue again…time will tell if I was being prophetic or not.
While we were at the Houndmouth show we saw that Soul Asylum was playing First Avenue the following night. I rarely pass up an opportunity to see this band play. They are absolutely scorching live. So we bought tickets and trekked back to downtown Minneapolis the next night. Fountains Of Wayne opened the show and almost put me to sleep, but they finished with “Stacy’s Mom” and that kept me awake until Dave Pirner and the boys took the main stage at First Ave. As the band launched into “April Fool” there was more energy in the first 30 seconds than the entire FOW set. I’m not sure how many times I have seen this band (dating back to the late ’80’s and early ’90’s…let’s just say a lot) and I’ve never been disappointed.
November brought around another special treat for me. My first time seeing Shawn Mullins live and at a venue that I’d never been before, the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. I’m a big fan of Shawn’s and I’m not quite sure why or how I’d never seen him before. While I was not much of a fan of the pretentiousness of the Dakota, or quite possibly the worst opening act I’ve ever seen. But Shawn did not let me down. A great acoustic set that included most everything that I would have wanted to hear. A great way to heat up a cold Minnesota November night.
Remember when I said that Jimmy Buffett almost never comes to Minnesota? Not long after we had returnned from seeing him at Alpine Valley they announced that he would be playing the Xcel Energy Center in December. Of course having the best girlfriend in the world meant that I got tickets to this for my birthday in October. So I wound up my 2013 concert season with my girlfriend Kim (who was with me for every show I attended this year) trying to bring a little St. Somewhere to a snowy December night in St.Paul.