As a child, I’d often drift off into blissful slumber with the sweet sounds of my dad’s alto saxophone as my lullaby. He’d sung to my mom on their wedding day with his band. He passed on his ear for tone and understanding of rhythm. I sang in the church choir and sat in his seat when he took his own turn on stage. I took 15 years of piano lessons and I dreamed of playing the tambourine with a band. He’d tote along his guitar on camping trips and we’d sing “Froggy went a-courtin'” around the fire. I snuck a handful of jazz albums from his collection years ago (sorry, Dad). I can blame my lifelong love for music (and musicians…hmmm) on him.
Music was always a part of our household as I was growing up, and it’s the same for me now. It’s not a surprise that my husband has an impressive line-up of guitars in his man cave. He plays me songs around the campfire. Even when I give him a hard time for it, I love hearing him practice from downstairs while I’m up in the kitchen, playing each riff multiple times to get it right. There’s something very comforting about those sounds; I’m reminded me of my childhood.
As a music lover, there’s nothing better than seeing an artist you love play live. Going to live shows is something John and I have enjoyed together for years, long before we were a couple. This week, we hit the mother lode with concerts, seeing three groups play over seven days in our favorite outdoor venue. A bonus for John: all three headliners are serious guitar players.
Red Butte Garden’s amphitheater is gorgeous. It’s tucked into the foothills near the University of Utah, part of the botanical gardens I visited recently. A gentle slope of grass leads back from a beautiful open stage and truly, there’s not a bad seat in the house. That said, people will line up hours before the gate opens to be able to get their preferred spot on the grass. It’s like tailgating for a big game, only instead of kegs of beer, there are huge thermoses filled with cocktails and multiple bottles of wine. Instead of grills and hot dogs and brats, there are picnic baskets and Tupperware filled with sundried tomato pesto and brie cheese and artisan crackers. The picnic is part of the fun, and waiting in line is part of the process.
Our first show was the Tedeschi Trucks Band, a husband and wife guitar team who we’d seen play before. Their music is a combination of rock and deep blues, with Derek’s incredible guitar riffs and Susan’s husky voice battling for the spotlight. It’s hard to know which musician to focus on because they are both so good. John and I braved the 100-degree heat in line for an hour with cocktails and a tiny umbrella for shade. We set up camp where we usually do, stage left near the aisle with a great view of the stage. I put together a picnic of leftover veggie pasta, tomato and basil salad, and plenty of meats and cheeses and crackers. Oh, and wine. What a show!
A few days later, we braved the scorching sun again to wait in line for Gary Clark Jr. We’d seen him play before, as well, so we knew we were in for a good show. His style is big, electric, bluesy. His opening band was a young duo named Black Pistol Fire with awesome energy. And when Gary Clark Jr. took the stage, we were on our feet for the entire show. Amazing!
The last show of Guitar Week was pretty major: Carlos Santana. He’s truly a living legend and I’d never seen him play live. By the time we arrived at the show, the line to get into the venue was longer than I’d ever seen it. I heard people saying they’d been there since 7am, braving massive thunderstorms during the day! We were lucky enough to have a friend who couldn’t make the show give us his VIP tickets, so we waited in a much shorter line and got into the venue first. We sat just a couple of groups back from the stage, and shared our blanket with friends who’d taken our tickets. We picnicked and partied and danced all night, singing along to songs we’d heard for decades. WOW.
A person definitely doesn’t need to have a musician father or play an instrument to appreciate a good live concert. One of my favorite things to do during a big moment in a good show is turn around and look at the audience. I love seeing the same joy I’m feeling reflected in every single face. What a gift to share that experience!
As usual, I can’t wait for the next show…whatever it is.
PS Today just happens to be my Dad’s birthday. Happy birthday, Pops!
One year ago: Lessons for a happy life… from my DOG.