On this date in history, 6/20/1999, I finished a 3 day run of concerts by seeing B.B. King and Robert Cray on the final day of the Indy Jazz Fest. After doing a little research I just discovered that this was the first year of the Indy Jazz Fest and the show took place at White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. In addition to B.B. King and Robert Cray, the lineup included Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, George Benson, Los Lobos, Sonny Rollins, Chris Izaak, Branford Marsalis, and Freddie Hubbard. The event began on the 17th and ended with the performance I attended. There were so many people at this show that we didn’t really get to see Robert Cray as we moved through the crowd looking for a place to sit. He sounded great, though, and I have always loved his voice and smooth guitar style. I had seen B. B. once before and remembered that his band ran through a couple of songs before the man took the stage. Since this was a jazz festival, the band really got to show off their skills in this segment and the crowd roared their approval in anticipation of the main event. Hearing the sound and tone of “Lucille”, B.B.’s legendary guitar, out in the open air, is such a vivid memory for me. It was just a glorious sonic experience! Of course the man’s singing voice was equally fantastic, and although he remained seated throughout his set, the audience were all on our feet by the end, the perfect final act for the inaugural Indy Jazz Fest, and the perfect end for 3 consecutive days of stellar shows for me.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 6/19/1999, one day after seeing a stellar Santana concert, my friends and I traveled back to Deer Creek for another evening on the lawn to see the incredible Allman Brothers Band. It had been over 17 years since I had seen them last, and I was excited to get in that groove again. Curtis Stigers was the opening act and I either don’t remember anything about his music or perhaps we arrived late. Whichever the case may be, once the ABB took the stage it was rightfully all about them. The first time I saw them, Gregg Allman was most definitely under the influence of lots of alcohol and most likely drugs, but he had gotten clean and sober in 1996, so he was once again at the top of his game. His keyboard playing always lived in the shadows of the killer guitarists who have been a staple of the band since its beginning, but he contributed so much more than the casual listeners were aware of. What we were all aware of was his amazing, blues drenched, rugged “manly man” lead vocals. Gregg sang his ass off this night, as did the twin lead guitars of Dickey Betts and Derek Trucks. This was my first time hearing and seeing young Master Trucks, who was only 20 at the time. His playing contained the spirit, the fire, and the essence of the immortal Duane Allman and added an element of authenticity to the guitar tag team that would remain until the end of the band. Jam band, Southern Rock rebels, or just pure American treasures, whatever label one attaches to the Allman Brothers Band, they will surely live forever in the history of great music.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 6/18/1999, Santana played a show at Deer Creek just 3 days after releasing what would wind up being the biggest album of their career, the award winning Supernatural. This review isn’t about that album and this concert really wasn’t about it, either. I’m not sure if they even played any songs from that album on this night, and if so, they hadn’t achieved the mythic status they would eventually attain. Basically, this was a pure Santana show, full of the intoxicating percussion, bluesy guitar, soulful vocals, and all around joyous and peaceful vibe that Carlos and the band perfected in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. It is nearly impossible to have a bad time at a Santana show, especially an outdoor one like this was. The entire crowd is on its collective feat, swaying and dancing, smiling and singing. I had seen Santana and Jeff Beck a few years prior, and my focus was primarily on Jeff Beck that night, because he is my favorite living guitarist. This night was all about Carlos for me. His tone is instantly recognizable to anyone with an ear for gorgeous sound, and his playing is always perfect for the songs the band performs. He adds the spice that makes the meal go from tasty to absolutely delicious. The band that opened the show was called Ozomatli, and their music was the perfect complimentary style to Santana, full of their own blend of percussion and positive vibes. Near the end of their set, everyone in the band grabbed a drum or some piece of percussion to march through the pavilion and into the lawn to bring the drum circle to the people. It was a beautiful prelude to my favorite Santana performance. This one had it all; great friends, great weather, and a healthy dose of music for the soul. I would see Carlos and band just one more time after this and it followed the insane success that attended Supernatural. Sadly, the success ruined a good thing for me, but that is a story for another time…

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 6/14/1988, I saw a show filled with guitar badassery at The Vogue nightclub in Broad Ripple. Robin Trower was the headliner and Indiana’s own P.k.’s Green Eggs & Ham were the incredible opening act. P.k. Lavengood had built his reputation as a guitar wizard with his Rods and Cones band, in which he sang the lion’s share of lead vocals in addition to performing astonishing feats on various guitars. In this new band he had a singer up front, which allowed him to shine on his instrument exclusively. One song they performed that night was “Seattle” by Public Image Ltd. and I fell in love with the tune and subsequently bought the album and wore it out. I seem to recall this band being more underground than Rods and Cones, but P.k. can basically do no wrong in my opinion. He is a musical chameleon who owns every style he ever attempts. Robin Trower had built his reputation originally with Procol Harum in the late ’60’s and then cemented his legacy as a guitar hero with the release of Bridge Of Sighs in 1974. I was literally spellbound by the huge tone he achieved with his Fender Stratocaster at the Vogue. After the first song in which the singer struggled valiantly to be heard over the roar of Trower’s guitar, Trower motioned for the sound man to turn it up. I figured he would boost the vocals, but I was mistaken. On the next song the guitar was even louder than before! Glorious for us guitar fanatics, not so much for anyone wanting to hear the singer! Other than that slight problem, the show featured all of Trower’s signature songs and that godly tone. As a guitar player, I left this event with a huge smile on my face and the familiar ringing in the ears. Yes, it was worth every decibel and then some.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 6/13/1998, I got to see John Fogerty for free! At the previous night’s show at Deer Creek (the 10th Anniversary Lynyrd Skynyrd/Peter Frampton show) they made an announcement that in appreciation for our support over the course of their first decade in business, if we brought our ticket stub, we could come back the following night for free admission to see John Fogerty and Whiskeytown. So, that is exactly what I did. Whiskeytown opened the concert and I wasn’t familiar with them, and honestly don’t really recall having much of an opinion on the night of the concert. Pretty bland stuff, but they obviously weren’t the main attraction. John Fogerty was fantastic. He played a set heavy on the classic Creedence Clearwater Revival hits and a generous portion of his solo hits as well. In addition to his vocals and guitar work (both outstanding), Fogerty told some cool stories about his gear, telling us that his amp had been to some pretty impressive places (like the original Woodstock festival), and dedicating a song to his wife, basically making us feel truly welcome. The lighting was impressive, from the opening of the concert, where the backdrop and greenish lights combined to transport us into the swamps where the spirit of a lot of his great songs resides. I love a free show and this was one of the best I have experienced. I had always respected John Fogerty’s skills and legacy, but this concert made me a true fan.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date, 6/12/2001, Ozzfest took over Deer Creek for a glorious day of headbanging and metal debauchery. The main stage bands were Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Papa Roach, Linkin Park, Disturbed, Crazy Town, Black Label Society, and Taproot. The second stage featured Mudvayne, Otep, Union Underground, Nonpoint, Hatebreed, Systematic, Pure Rubbish, American Head Charge, Godhead, Drowning Pool, and Beautiful Creatures. It is nearly impossible to see every band, so each individual kind of charts their own path through the day, making each person’s Ozzfest experience a unique adventure. My favorites that day included American Head Charge and Hatebreed from the earlier sets. Nonpoint were pretty good, too. Union Underground looked like they would be a lot more fierce than they ultimately turned out to be, but they were still good enough that I wound up purchasing their CD. Otep were phenomenal, performing on this tour before they were even signed to a label. Otep herself was hypnotic and possessed of every ounce of fire and brimstone vocal ability as any of the men on that stage. I found myself directly in front of the stage during Mudvayne’s epic set and my shoulders were sore for a couple of days afterwards from helping lift crowd surfers over the barricade into the waiting arms of the security guys. The pits during Mudvayne’s show, particularly during their song “Dig”, were absolutely seismic events. Moving over to the main stage, a few of those bands were not received well by the metal masses. Crazy Town in particular were booed mercilessly. One kid up on the lawn stood with his back to them and held up his middle finger in their direction for the duration of their set. I agreed totally! Linkin Park, Disturbed and Papa Roach failed to do much for me, either. Slipknot got things going when the nine headed beast from Iowa took the stage, unleashing a fusillade of blasting percussion, crushing riffage and the scorched earth policy of Corey Taylor’s vocal chords. Marilyn Manson was still a bigger draw than the ‘knot at that time, and he brought his ghoulish charm to the prime time slot before the mighty Sabbath came to the stage and reminded us all that they are the undisputed godfathers of heavy metal. Ozzy is always great on his own, but there is another level above that, and that level is called Black Sabbath. There is just something in the chemistry of those original four members and the molten lava sound they created together. I’m sure glad I was there, and I sure do miss Ozzfest, and I continue to hope something comes along to take its place!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History

On this date in history, 6/12/1998, Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN, celebrated 10 years of concerts with a bash featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd, Peter Frampton, The Freddy Jones Band, and Mike Tramp. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was late and made my arrival just before Peter Frampton began his set. It was my first (and so far only) time seeing him and I was impressed. I was never a fan when he was on the radio every 3 minutes during my high school years, but over time I realized he was popular for a reason. The songs have held up well over time, he has a great personality on stage, still sings well, and still plays the hell out of his guitars. Lynyrd Skynyrd died on the day of that tragic plane crash that claimed Ronnie Van Zant, but the band name lives on and the music will likely inspire rockers for generations to come. Ronnie’s brother Johnny does a great job singing the songs, but fairly or unfairly, he will always live in the shadow of the martyred original front man, who will forever stand alongside Gregg Allman as the twin towers of Southern Rock vocalists. The triple threat of Gary Rossington, Ricky Medlocke (ex-Blackfoot), and Hughie Thomasson (ex-Outlaws) executed all the scorching leads and riffs we all know and love. In 1998 there were still a handful of living members from the glory years of the band, but now Gary Rossington stands alone. I have often said that the Lynyrd Skynyrd that exists now is the best Skynyrd tribute band on the planet, and that isn’t a bad thing at all. You know what you’re getting when you go see Skynyrd. Tons of great songs, sweet nostalgia, and a damn good time!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Date in History