Wow! I could simply type "It was awesome!". Lets see how much energy I have left to type more....
Friday night we went to downtown Chigago for a reception for Eric Clapton's fan club. We had hoped an artist or two would stop by. Instead we met a great couple who had traveled from Connecticut for the show. Found out people had traveled from 21 states and 5 countries. In fact only 10 of us in that room were from Illinois. They came from Canada, France, England, Scotland and Australia. Wow. The world was coming to see this show. Our new friends tried to drop us off in their rental car at the train station but we ran into blocked roads....which turned out to be a movie being filmed. They had a whole street lit up and helicopters flying thru.....turned out it's the new Batman movie, the Dark Night. That kind of lent a surreal air to our trip downtown.
We left for the show early. As soon as we got in, our son Jeff ran off to the guitar displays. We got in line for our general admission seats on the field. This concert was played in a soccer field, assigned seats were in the stands. It would be a crapshoot to see if we'd get decent seats in the field. Ever the explorer I found several noncrowded lines, asked around and found out there was going to be a lottery for "pit seats" but you had to be way on the other side from where I had just left my son and husband. Thank God for cell phones. After several frantic calls I got my husband Jim to leave his place in line and come over to where I was at for the pit seats....but he really didn't believe me. I could not get ahold of Jeff. Jim showed up and he got in line behind a group of guys who looked like football players. They heard my frantic calls to Jeff and were laughing that "Jeff was really going to miss out". Finally I got Jeff on the phone, who said he was too busy before playing the guitars to answer. Now he could not understand my directions of where to go. When the "pit" gates opened I was left behind still giving Jeff directions.......and then I saw him rounding the corner as I imagine one does when they "run with the bulls" in Spain.....we got our pit seats, but behind everyone else. So where was Jim? There he was, waving to us IN THE FRONT ROW, holding a place for the two of us, right next to the football team. When we got there, and we could not believe our good fortune, one of the big guys turned to us and said, "This must be Jeff! Yeah Jeff, you made it!" Jim said he just followed the big guys in as they plowed their way to the front. Front Row??????? Could it get more any more awesome than this, or more surreal? Batman had nothing on this.
Now I know this is Vince's site, and you all want to hear about Vince...Vince was AWESOME....and even better after they plugged in his amps-- almost thirty seconds after he started Liza Jane. After the song was over, he asked if he was on the radio now, refering to us actually being able to hear him. I guess in a show that long and big, there will be technical problems. Then from "These Days" he rocked the place with Cowboy Up and The Rhythm of the Pourin' Rain. We were all wild cheering when he did "Sweet Thing". I don't remember if he did another song in that set or not....it was a long 13 hour day standing in that front row. He said that Eric Clapton was a big inspiration to him, and that Eric had told him to play music, any kind of music, just keep creating, (or something like that). Did I forget Bill Murray? Bill had us cracking up all day. When he introduced Vince he was dressed in some hick suit/hillbilly outfit with a straw hat, and said "Now it is time for the NASCAR portion of our show. All the men with no shirt on start running in a circle making left turns." Don't worry...Bill picked on everyone...except Allison Krauss, who he apparently has the hots for, as I saw him swooning from the sidelines as she sang. Later Bill complained that "Allison doesn't even know I exist." After Vince did his set, he brought out Albert Lee and he and Vince with Vince's band tore up the house with Tear it Up. Vince said Albert was an inspiration to him....and I can see why. Albert really ripped it up with his guitar. They were fantastic together. And the beauty in a concert like this is me and other people were introduced to and loved Albert Lee and now are fans too. Then Vince brought out Sheryl Crow, and she was joined with Allison Krauss and Jerry Douglas---the whole audience sang along with Are You Strong Enough to be My Man and If It Makes You Happy. Then out came Clapton. He and everyone else already mentioned slayed the place with Livin on Tulsa Time. My husband and son both spotted and told me about the woman in Vince's band on the Congas and Djembes smiling from ear to ear as Clapton sang. What an momentous time in her life! Can you imagine? How exhilerating! Everyone left the stage after that rendition except for Vince and his band, and out came Willie Nelson. Willie was his own man this day, and played and played. Then Willie pulled out Sheryl again and had her sing On the Road Again with him. Vince's set was quite memorable indeed.
I can't even describe how good this marathon concert was. Every single artist basically blew me away. There was no downtime except when the stage was spinning to bring out the next band, and even that time was used to collapse to the ground to rest. The weather was even perfect and nobody got dehydrated or sunburned, at least in the immediate area where we were. Every artist was there performing for Eric and the other artists, which meant that the best of the best guitarists were at the very top of their game. It was one powerhouse musician after another, eleven hours of this. I met more musicians this day than I can process yet: Sonny Landreth: what a way to start the day! Hubert Sumlin: yes, I do know your songs, and now I know who you are! What a treasure! Doyle Bramhall ll: your time is coming, can't wait to see what you do. Jeff Beck: WOW. No words can describe. Who was that basist???? His rendition of A Day in the Life was beyond. Pierce my soul. Johnny Winter: one old guy who shed his age when he jammed Highway 61. That one is still stuck in my head. B.B. is the king. Royalty. I've heard him do The Thrill is Gone before, and will never tire of it. B.B. is a sweet gift to us all. I know I was seeing something historic when Steve Winwood played. I did not want him to stop. Buddy Guy, always the showman, was in rare form for even himself as the closer. Sweet Home Chicago was honestly and truely never better or more meaningful. Los Lobos, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Robert Cray, Robert Randolph, John Mayer, John McLaughlin, Robbie Robertson, Jimmie Vaughn: I am still processing and will be for a long time. Eric, our man who brought this all together, thank you for everything! The music, the inspiration, the challenge for the musicians, and the way to foil the scalpers to not profit from those front row seats or really most seats: I can't believe how special and magical this day was. At the end I had a HUGE feeling of appreciation for Eric. He was pulling people together, inspiring them, supporting the new guys, honoring those before him, and letting us fans in on the whole thing in an honest way. His karma is good. Honestly I have never been to an event where we made so many friends: Steve & Mark, Omar the security guard, the reporter, the group of big guys and not to forget Mitch and Maryann from the night before. As far as inspiration, my young musician son Jeff seemed destined to be there. I loved the fact that this show was in support of an alcohol/drug rehab place. Look Jeff, you can make beautiful music AND be clean. Thank you God. Somehow it all came together for each and every one of us.
The only downside was brought up by my front row neighbor/football plow guy, Joe, who informed me that this is it. No concert will ever match this experience again. While we might see each artist again, none together like this, and even if we do see a combo such as Buddy and Eric together again, even at a similar venue, we will not again have front row seats. Hmmph.....we got to ride the pinnacle yesterday.