More excellent JT and BR adventure stories – Tour 2017

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    James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt Concert Tour 2017
    AT&T San Francisco (Giants Arena) July 29th 2017
    Blossom Music Center August 9th 2017

    Hey all you JT Lovin’ Fans. Its been a while since I’ve shared any of my JT concert adventures with you. I haven’t been to very many JT & Bonnie Raitt concerts this year. Alas I could only make it to two shows – as I hear – its better than a poke in the eye. I’ve just landed in Portland home and on the flight back I wrote some rambling thoughts about these experiences on my iPhone. Its rather a long stream of consciousness thing and if you’re interested pour yourself a cuppa and join me in my Hawaiian Island style ‘Talk Story”.

    Yesterday August 9th I boarded a red eye, direct flight to Cleveland, Ohio out of Portland, OR. I arrived at 6am collected the rental car. Even with WAZE on the phone for driving directions, I still got lost as here in the wild West Coast we are not familiar with toll roads – so a 30 min drive from Cleveland airport to a hotel near the Blossom Music Center took me 2 hours.

    After checking in and freshening up at my hotel room, I arrived early at Blossom Music Center and found it confusing to get around. Signage is poorly organized. It’s a summer venue for the Classical music scene and for outdoor rock concerts. The venue is old but impressive. The covered shed pavilion and the picnic grounds the amphitheater seats upwards of 20,000. Parking is difficult and if you don’t book a parking spot ahead of time you get directed to grassy fields often quite a long walk away. Even at the last minute I was fortunate to find a parking pass for sale and was ensured a safe and quite close walk in the dark back to my car after the show. I’ve discovered when traveling to distant venues the importance of doing your homework regarding safe parking, most important, when you travel alone.

    At around 7:30pm. James Taylor casually walked on stage. He introduced himself welcomed the audience and presented his dear musician friend Bonnie Raitt to resounding applause for both of them.

    Bonnie and her Band gave wonderful powerful energetic performance. Her songs Angel of Montgomery brought tears. Love Me Like A Man – bittersweet. Have a heart – heartbreaking. A Thing Called Love with James – great bravado and gorgeously performed. But the greatest standout for me was having her and Arnold McCuller perform her ‘Nick of Time’. I love that song on her cd and on Arnold’s cd but the two of them doing it together, Live, was breathtaking.

    As Eric Erickson has already described here in an earlier post – the stage crew impressively and efficiently removed Bonnie’s Band equipment and moved in a whole new setup for the James Taylor Band. A few of us tried hanging around the stage as the lights went down but were politely returned to our seats as the video introduction lit up the giant screen at the back of stage giving us the James Taylor story in James’ own voice, then a video from former President Barack Obama introduced James who immediately took to the stage in person with his casual loping humble manner that we have come to adore so much. The crowd burst into resounding, ear piercing cheers.

    The set list was the same as the San Francisco show at the Giants Center, with minor of changes in the song list. James started with Blossom instead of Carolina and inserted in place of Montana the song ‘Wichita Lineman’ in Honor of a dearly departed brother from the music world, Glen Campbell. Although Glen Campbell didn’t write that song he covered it extensively in his lifetime. The renowned great songwriter Jimmy Webb wrote Wichita Lineman, a truly beautiful song, and James Taylor and the band did a moving and haunting rendition of it. RIP Glen Campbell. ‘Jump up behind me’ was the other song replaced by Carol King’s ‘Up on the roof’’

    The Ohio Blossom Center fans were amazing. They were a very well heeled crowd. They got up and danced in front of their seats when the spirit moved them and hollered and whistled approval when appropriate. One man was upset at a woman who was spirited away by many songs during Bonnie’s performance (and James’ too) and asked the security guard to make her sit – he replied by shaking his head – she had every right to stand at her seat space.

    I was seated in the middle section fifth row a perfect spot for sound and visuals of the stage and its video backdrop screen. I must say it’s a different experience to watch that light show at back of performing James Taylor and band. It was brilliantly assembled and executed. It added great depth and dimension to the live performance luckily for those in the middle of the arena who can get a view of it, as it’s not visible to those up close to the stage on the sides. But the big side screens are uniquely special too as the camera focuses on each performer on stage. That was my experience of the show at the Giants arena in San Francisco as my seats were up close to stage but way over to the side. Those were Amex Platinum costly for bad seats – gotta watch out for That Ticketmaster scam – but the night was beautiful, the crowd amazing and the video side screen made good.

    This Ohio audience last night, especially those up front in the middle arena, seemed to really enjoy the music and loved the two bands but unlike their compatriots on the lawn and back of the arena, they were very shy about getting up to the last few songs to dance sing and interact with the band- they definitely loved being there but I got the feeling they were very shy about personal emotional displays. It’s a Middle America kind of thing? Although by the last two songs ‘you’ve got a friend and YCCYE I spied the two people on my right and behind me wiping away tears and desperately holding back uncontrollable sobs – oh how I know that feeling, how well I can identify with them and the thousands of others at a James Taylor live performance, who out of the blue, find themselves so emotionally overcome with this Man’s music. It is sweet sublime mysterious magic when it happens to you!

    After YCCYE, James escorted Bonnie off stage and as the crew was disassembling the stage set James came back out to the side where he signed for fans. I squeezed my way through them to the exit. Unlike some, but very few, other venues here in the USA and in other foreign countries these fans were extremely polite moving to let me thru and even let me stop and get a picture of him signing. There was none of that frantic Fan desperation I’ve seen at some shows. One young man standing back behind the autograph hunters just kept repeating over and over again to his wife – ‘this is a very special thing to witness, I’m just going to stand here and soak it all in’ of course I wanted to say but didn’t, ‘yes indeed my friend, how many notable stars of this man’s stellar caliber would have the skill, strength and humility and real love for his fans to give such time at the end of a very exhausting performance. I also think the millions of people who genuinely love his music are good kind humble fine characters too and make it easy and safe for him to reach out to us. So y’all JT lovin’ fans let’s keep it that way. Safe, kind and good. I also commend the San Francisco audience. They were fantastic and their energy was so lovingly powerful it enveloped not only all of us there in the arena but the performers as well and lifted them to amazing performances and I imagine they received amazing inner satisfaction and emotional fulfillment from that energy. The SF crowds who made their way quietly to the stage for the last few songs were truly lovely and polite but enthused too and some of them downright hilarious. One woman kept saying over and over again to no one in particular ‘OMG just look at him he is something else-I’ve been happily married for 30 years but I’d leave my husband in a minute if this guy would have me’ and I would hazard a guess that there are millions like her. Not that James Taylor would want another woman. His wife is fabulous enough for him. Also I found myself about ten heads back of the stage in front of JT mic, tall women and young men in front of me would turn and scoot me in front of them so I could see better. One woman with her sister during ‘you’ve got a friend looked over at me standing alone and put her arm around me – her sister on the other arm looked at me and said ‘who she’ to which my new friend replied ‘ I don’t know but she’s got a wedding ring so she’s safe’ and we continued swaying to the strains of ‘friend’. Another woman – faced uplifted and glowing enraptured – she was at least 60 years old – kept whispering to no one in particular ‘ after all these years I’m here standing this close’ it gave me a choke up moment. Another woman kept singing off key annoying a couple of young men standing in front of her at first they displayed annoyance but quickly turned it to kindly survival act for themselves too, when they asked her to move in front of them. So that was San Francisco show at the foot of the stage – there I quietly absorbed the energy around me. At the Blossom Ohio foot of stage during the encores, I would be described as the strange and crazy old lady dancing and lip singing and interacting with the band to the ‘how sweet it is’ heehee…but I hope I was sweet!

    All that said, I had the rare opportunity to actually meet our hero backstage and to be able to say goodbye to him afterward and this I must add – he gave me several goodbye hugs with messages to my absent husband and kids and a special long warm hug asking me to give his love to everyone of you JT lovin’ fans here on Joel’s site!! And I ask now, where have you all gone? Hope you get this message.

    Aside from my heartfelt and well deserved thanks to James Taylor and his amazing band and touring family and to Bonnie Raitt and her also stellar band, I want to acknowledge JT management – all of them and the great tireless touring crew, for the great amazing job they do behind the scenes quietly but so very efficiently to bring our great hero’s live performances to us. One simply cannot comprehend the work that goes into putting these shows on. It’s massive, the timing, the synchronicity, the patience to work together in harmony and brotherhood – I give a thousand bows to honor them!

    I also was given a great seat compliments of James Taylor and management – 5th row center where the sounds and visuals were the best. I’d already purchased two 2nd row seats over to the far right side of stage from a tix reseller for two friends that couldn’t make it over. I made sure to have it scanned at the entrance and walked to the very back of the grassy arena, instinctively chose two people and offered them the tix. As usual they were at first apprehensive that I was wanting something- I convinced them I was legitimate and genuinely offering them something for nothing. Their suspicions melted away and when they were escorted to their seats I thought they might faint. They told me they would pay that kindness forward. They also said that they had recently been going thru some very sad and horrendous experience and the gift meant a lot to them. So all in all this concert experience for me was fantastic all around and as usual very moving and healing. The best ever adventure until the next time. So you two friends who didn’t make it – eat your heart out!

    Boston Fenway fans – enjoy! Its a fantastic show.

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