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{November 17, 2012}   More About the Music

After finishing my “Fan’s History” series, I have been thinking hard about what to tackle next: an alphabet of favorite authors…an alphabet of favorite plants…but none of those ideas were sucking me into a vortex of passion.

So I guess I will go back to music. After my club scene days, I worked as an usher/usher supervisor/head usher for a variety of venues. There are many more music stories to write! For many years I had the idea in my head to write a screenplay for a comedy series about my ushering days, but I don’t have the foggiest idea how to do that, and the more time goes by, the blurrier the stories get. So maybe I’ll just begin…

Concerts on the Common "apron"

Concerts on the Common “apron”

When I donned the red apron of a volunteer usher for Concerts on the Common (yes I still have it…I’m a terrible packrat), I had no idea how much it would change my life and where it would lead. Until that time, my musical interests were pretty limited. As a child I loved show tunes because my parents owned LPs of some of the most common ones: South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and Sound of Music. As a result, I was in chorus and drama all through school…never a star, just a member of the crowd. Then came my friendship with Eric and Jane, when I became a fan of Punk, New Wave and Rock…still pretty limited. Concerts on the Common changed my musical tastes forever. The concerts covered the range of music genres — jazz, folk, blues, rock and pop. From Joni Mitchell to George Benson, from the Village People to BB King to Julio Iglesias, I worked them all and discovered that I really loved music.

As I wrote this, I searched the Internet for some great links relating to what I saw, but there was surprisingly little. I found a few blogs where people actually said, “Does anyone remember Concerts on the Common?” Not much beyond that. For those who don’t know about it: an area of the Boston Common was sectioned off for the summer and folding chairs were set up for the audience. This was long before venues like Great Woods or Harbor Lights (now under other names) were built. There certainly was something different about watching a concert outdoors in the middle of the city with a squirrel running up a tree right next to you. Unfortunately, it only lasted a few years before the neighbors’ complaints about the noise put a stop to it.

My friend Julie worked at a law firm in downtown Boston with a woman who, along with her husband, were in charge of the volunteer ushers for these concerts. (I still remember their first names: Elise and Dan, but very little beyond that.) She asked Julie if she was interested and Julie asked me — Hell, yes!  I don’t remember how it happened but we pretty much immediately started hanging out with a group of ushers that included an usher supervisor who later became the head usher for the Orpheum Theater, taking it over from Elise and Dan. I remember him taking a small group of us backstage after the Peter, Paul and Mary show for a piece of the Puff the Magic dragon cake they had in honor of the 20th anniversary of the song. I remember that The Thompson Twins wouldn’t let the ushers hang out for sound check, in contrast to Huey Lewis who talked to us and took requests! I remember the screaming of the women and tossing of bras and panties for Engelbert Humperdinck and Julio Iglesias shows. And watching a whole audience of people try to do the YMCA dance was a trip! There are personal memories of the time too; during that time I dated a Berkeley student who went on to publish trivia books on music and write for national publications. I wish I remembered more, but I’m getting to that age…

When the summer season ended in 1982, my new friends asked us to work concerts at the Orpheum for the winter. I was hooked!



{July 23, 2011}   She Who Hesitates…

Photo of Bob I took during concert

I’m sure everyone has at least one moment like this in their life — a moment they relive often in their minds, not because the decision was life changing or important, but because it can be fun to imagine, “what if…?”

Long before Bob Geldof felt moved to help the African people with Live Aid, he was the lead singer of The Boomtown Rats.  It was 1982 and I was at the age of idolizing musicians; I greatly admired Geldof’s lyrics (and of course I thought he was cute too).  My friends and I went to see The Rats at the Peppermint Lounge in NYC.  Back then, fans were allowed to bring cameras into a club and take pictures of the band.  I was wearing a Ric Ocasek t-shirt (signifying I was from Boston) and had my trusty Pentax K-1000 around my neck. I was standing for the whole show in a mass of fans near the stage.

The band had a song called, “Having My Picture Taken.” When they played the song in concert they often invited their fans onstage; band members would grab the cameras and take pictures of their fans.  As they began playing the intro to the song, Bob Geldof must have spied my camera (and maybe he thought I was cute?) and motioned for me to come onstage.  I was shy enough back then to think he MUST mean someone else — I looked behind me and then looked back at him.  I pointed to myself as I looked incredulously at him, “Me?”  He nodded and motioned again for me to come up.  I froze — 30 seconds at most.  Unfortunately the fans around me did not.  They began swarming onto the stage.  The first thing I thought about was protecting my precious camera as I was jostled and pushed.  I finally moved forward to follow them and found a hand in my face.  A burly bouncer said, “No more.”  I looked at Geldof with pleading eyes.  He gave me a tight-lipped smile and shrugged his shoulders with a “thems-the-breaks” look and began dancing with another girl.  I was crushed.  The moment had passed me by.

Believe me, my friends heard over and over that night, “I can’t believe he invited ME up on the stage and I didn’t go!!!”  They just kept shaking their heads at me.  Once I got over my intense regret, we laughed about it.

I’m sure it wouldn’t have made any difference in my life in the long run, but I still think about it and shake my head at myself. Leave it to me to miss my 15 minutes of fame.



et cetera
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