Monday, February 14, 2011

Nineteen (oh it hurts!) Years Ago tonight...

I was a freshman at UMass Amherst and I had heard that Michael Nesmith was going to be playing at Nightstage in Cambridge. It was a weekend, so I decided to make the trek, bringing along two other friends who were in it more for the Cambridge part than the Nesmith part. Also, didn't have a ticket. I can't remember if I didn't have one because it was 21+, or it was sold out.
Oh was indeed Valentine's Day, but I didn't even have the glimmer of a prospect of a hope of a Valentine. I was a very shy college freshman.
In any case, knowing that a Nesmith gig was as rare as Halley's Comet, I said "screw it, I'll try to sneak in". I was 19 and nothing would stop me.
It was bloody COLD that night. But we found Nightstage. The show had started. Perhaps if I was alone, the outcome would have been different, but here's how I remember it:
The three of us huddled in the entry, my jaw dropping and eyes bugging as I laid eyes on Nesmith 100 feet away, on a small stage, singing..."JOANNE"!!! We began to inch foward a bit when a tap on the shoulder brought me out of my trance.
"You have a wrist band?"
"You have a ticket?"
"Nuh uh"
"Adios, guys. Outta here now".

Fuuuuck. If it wasn't so goddamn COLD out, I would have been happy to mull about for the next hour and tried to catch Nesmith on his way out. But, really it was like 5 degrees. And I had to be happy with having seen The Man in the flesh, guitar in hand, crooning his biggest solo hit.

I found, not long ago, a bootleg of this very show online. Someone's blog. I had to hear it. I downloaded it, and...the sound was lousy. And you know what else? I'm sure being there ruled, and I still regret missing it, was 1992, and Nesmith's band had a very, contemporary sound. That Whitney Houston keyboard sound, latin percussion...and really, not many of that generation escaped the 80's-90's without using that kind of stuff at least a little bit. Also, judging from that bootleg, I don't think that the amazing Red Rhodes was at this show. Red, of course, is the pedal steel virtuoso who pretty much was a HUGE part of the best solo Nesmith stuff. Recently, Nesmith said that "El Rojo" smoked more weed than anyone he'd ever met. And Nesmith hung with Hendrix, Jack Nicholson and John Lennon. Perhaps they were all onto other vices by then. Red was old school.

In any case, here's a clip from Austin City Limits from around the same time. Red Rhodes, nearing the end of his life, is seen here in one of his final live performances.

1 comment:

  1. This story has made me jealous for 18 years, 364 days.

    Congrats on the blog - it's about time!

    - Joeman