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Chris Gay: Musical concerts fun to figure out

Posted: April 30, 2017 - 2:00am

I saw this on Facebook earlier this week and it's been driving me bonkers ever since.

Covering sports, I'm exposed to music on a regular basis. The good schools are the ones that have volunteers running the scoreboards, playing songs during the various events. I was taken aback a few weeks ago when I went to Glenn Hills to cover soccer and there was no one in the press box. People in Columbia County care too much to ever let something like that happen.

Anyway, I'm a huge music fan. There's quite a divide in my family. My wife and oldest daughter go back and forth between country (or whatever they call country music these days) and current pop music. Things 2 and 3, my middle daughter and son, listen to today's current hits. Me? I'm all over the map.

Driving to the Harlem tennis match Thursday, I listened to a Dean Martin CD. His song, You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You, was the song my wife and I danced to at our wedding.

I'm also a big Frank Sinatra fan, a big Elvis Presley aficionado (sang two Elvis songs at my wedding reception - a story for another day), and I also enjoy funk music and love classic rap groups like the Sugarhill Gang. My favorite genre is classic rock. My three favorite artists are Led Zeppelin, The Who and AC/DC. When my children are struggling to wake up for school, I proudly blast AC/DC music in their ears. Or if I'm feeling generous, I'll play one of the four James Brown songs on my phone. Ironically, three of those JB songs have the words "wake up" or "get up."

One of my proud dad moments was when my children learned Baba O'Riley by The Who - a lot of folks think it's called "Teenage Wasteland" because of the chorus.

To get to my original point, I'm sure you've seen on Facebook recently where your friends have been posting nine real concerts they've attended and one fake one. You're asked to guess the fake one. That got me to thinking: Have I been to nine concerts?

The first real concert I attended was the Robert Plant/Jimmy Page reunion Feb. 28, 1995, in the Omni in Atlanta. Two of my friends and I sat about as far back in the arena as possible. The show was fantastic. Guitarist Porl Thompson left The Cure to tour with Plant and Page, and The Cure song Lullaby was performed at that Atlanta show. I wish I could find a copy of that concert. That's how good it was.

So that's one concert. My friends, Jason and Miriam Smith and I attended Music Midtown in 1996 in Atlanta. Jason and I worked for the student newspaper at Augusta University and somehow got media passes to the event - we interviewed members of the band Ben Folds Five and wrote a story. We also saw a ton of fantastic bands. I believe that was the first time we saw the Barenaked Ladies, who were neither bare naked or ladies.

We saw the Barenaked Ladies again a few years later again at Lakewood Amphitheatre. Now, that's a real music venue and not just some stage and a flat field surrounded by zero parking. It was also at the concert we saw Blues Traveler led by John Popper, with his 876 harmonicas. Another good show.

Also in the late 1990s, I attended a rock music festival at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I'm told there were more than 100,000 people who attended that event, which was headlined by The Offspring. Finding my car about midnight was an achievement. Fortunately, the strongest thing I had to drink that evening was Coca-Cola. A few miles down the road, cops were stopping cars at a checkpoint for three things: license, registration and sobriety. I possessed all three. Everybody needs that trifecta when driving.

One of the greatest local concerts I attended was in the late 1990s at Fort Gordon. Eve 6, Our Lady Peace and Third Eye Blind - all at the peak of their musical fame - performed on a stage on another flat field (but there was parking). I can't imagine a concert like that would happen again at Fort Gordon, especially with the difficulties getting on the base.

In 1999, I traveled to Memphis, Tenn., to cover Paine College in the Division II Basketball Tournament. One night, I went to B.B. King's restaurant and saw "The Queen of Beale Street," Ruby Wilson, sing the blues. It was an experience I've never forgotten. I bought her CD as a keepsake.

My wife and I have seen several concerts through the years. We once saw Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Bell Auditorium. The infusion of big band music and rock worked beautifully.

Some of my friends thought I was nuts when my wife and I and several friends went to see John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett in 2008 at the Bell Auditorium. That night, Georgia played Alabama in football. I didn't miss anything. John Hiatt showed up in Augusta. The Bulldogs failed to appear in Athens, choking it down to the Crimson Tide in a 41-30 defeat. The lesson? Don't let sports run your life.

As for the show that evening, Lyle Lovett was good, but I went to see the fantastic John Hiatt. The singer-songwriter's 1994 album, Hiatt Comes Alive at Budokan, is a must-buy for all music lovers. The album is a balance of soft and hard rock, containing 15 songs, including hits Angel Eyes, Have A Little Faith In Me, Perfectly Good Guitar, Drive South and Slow Turning. The album is 76 minutes long - or about a 3.7-mile drive in Columbia County road construction and traffic. I highly recommend it - the album, not the road construction or traffic.

In 2011, I saw Peter Frampton in Atlanta. That year marked the 35th anniversary of his breakout album, Frampton Comes Alive. He was engaging and energetic, and his guitar-playing was top-notch. Later, I bought his FCA! 35 Tour: An Evening With Peter Frampton. I play it when I'm driving to and from sporting events around the county. His famous song, Do You Feel Like We Do? is 18:23 - or about a .79-mile drive in rush-hour traffic.

A few years ago, Carrie Underwood performed in Augusta. My wife and I watched her grow as an artist on American Idol and afterward. The Augusta show sold out in a flash, but a high school friend sold me her two extra tickets. Jesus took the wheel, got us safely to the show and we sat in the upper deck. I'm not a huge country music fan, but Carrie Underwood was outstanding.

Now that you've read all that, I have to confess. Nine of those concerts are real. One of them is fake. If you want to play along, drop me a line at chris.gay@augustachronicle.com or on Twitter (@AUG_ChrisGay).

 

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