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Seeing a legend perform in a small venue?


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I was thinking about some of the my favorite performers and seeing them in small venues. It is easy with jazz. I saw Bill Evans at the Jazz Workshop in Boston. I saw Cedar Walton at Bradlees in NY and many other legends in Boston area. On the other hand I only saw Keith, Herbie, George Duke and a few others, but in large halls. Never saw Chick 😞

 

Any stories about seeing Rock (or other,) legend bands, etc. but not in large concerts. I am interested in your take on seeing them in a small club or small venue.

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The big one is "the one that got away."   Keith Emerson came to Orlando with one of his post-ELP bands (Three, I think) and they played in a small bar that local bands play in!  I don't remember why I didn't or couldn't go, but chances are I could have sat a few feet from him.

I wish I'd known Tommy Shaw was going around to bookstores for a while with his acoustic basically shooting the shit with people and taking requests.  No idea if he ever came to one around here but I would have loved that.

Not that King's X are "legends" but they have always been one of my favorite bands.  I've seen them twice in mid-size clubs.   I saw Medeski Martin and Wood likewise twice in small-to-midsize places. 

I think I'm pretty much done with big shows, other than maybe a super-spectacle like Muse.   Too much money, too many tracks (aka Karaoke IMO).   Tracks are so prevalent even at local bar shows that I'm getting more and more picky about who I'd stay to watch.  I realize I'm in the minority, nothing I can do about it other than not stick around.  

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I saw Moedeski, Martin and Wood in a small (180 max capacity) club in Fresno on New Years Day. Maybe a dozen people there, including the band and the staff. 

They killed it, fantastic. 

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This was before she was a "legend," I suppose, but I saw Sharon Jones' first or second concert in Montreal at a tiny club in the basement of a Spanish social hall. It felt like a high school cafeteria and it was super hot and sweaty. I've seen Marc Ribot in both relatively small clubs and larger theatres. In 2007, I saw Mark Turner at a tiny bar on Avenue C that doesn't exist anymore.

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i saw Johnnie Johnson at the Turning Point in Piermont NY in the early 90's.  I was probably 5 feet away from him, and the bar probably holds less than 100 people.  That was pretty awesome (even though he played some kind of digital piano).

 

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Same club but there legends.  The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach CA small Jazz dive as they used to call it the original father and son who had the place sold it and its gone kind if up scale from it Dive days.   But my first important live jazz event was hearing Jimmy Smith there.   Later Joe Pass play solo.   Then the saddest was seeing Dexter Gordon there on a weeknight.   The Lighthouse only a handful of people that night for Dexter, so Dexter would play the head of the tune, take the first solo, then just step of the stage and wonder around or sit in a booth and watch his band.   Then Dexter would get back on stage close out the tune, then repeat the process.   

 

A few miles further down from Lighthouse I saw Freddie Hubbard.  The music school I worked at was close to the Baked Potato and Dontes two hot spots in L.A. music.   Baked Potato is still open.   But many nights after I closed the school I would just head over to one of the two club and catch whoever was playing that night. 

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The term 'legend' is certainly subjective, here's some of my legends.

 

Got to see a lot of jazz legends in small NYC venues like the Blue Note, etc.

 

1989 - Miles Davis at the Iridium (Iridium has changed locations many times over the years, can't remember where this incarnation was).

2007 - Bill Bruford's Earthworks.  Again at the Iridium (Can't remember if current location or near Lincoln Center)

2016 - Chick Corea during his residency at the Blue Note (As well as seeing Chick many times over the years there going back to the 80s)

1988?  - Dizzy Gillespie at the Lone Star Cafe NYC

2004 - Pat Metheny Group performing The Way Up at SUNY Purchase (well not that small of a venue)

80s-90s - McCoy Tyner so many times at different NYC venues.  He played pretty regularly at Sweet Basil's in the village.

80s-90s - Steve Gadd's Gang featuring Richard Tee (He left us way too early).  A lot of different clubs from my memory, Lone Star Cafe stands out.

80s-90s - Zawinul Syndicate.  Always an interesting show watching him bend the keyboards to his will.

 

Allan Holdsworth so many times at small dives, especially in the later years.  Last time was at the Turning Point in Piermont NY as mentioned above.  That joint is pretty local to me and always had a reputation of brining in decent names.  Another notable show at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY in the late 80s.

 

1997 - Kansas at The Chance.  Kansas was at a pretty low point in those days and Steve Walsh was strung out for the show.  Billy Greer ended up singing all the high parts.  Pretty sparse attendance, happy for them that their prospects have improved since then.  

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I saw The Ramones and The New York Dolls in small clubs in NJ. That's about as close as I got to this.  Twisted Sister was playing the same circuit of clubs as we were back in that day, but hadn't hit it big yet.....

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I saw Jarrett twice at the Village Vanguard: first with the European Quartet, and then later during the first public appearance of the Standards Trio. Those were pretty amazing occurrences, being in such a small room.

 

Saw George Duke at the Blue Note, sat right at the top end of his Rhodes... Very special.

 

Jerry

 

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I saw Pink Floyd in Salem, OR in 1971 when they were still an underground band in the US. Fewer than 100 people showed up and tickets were $3.50. Just over a year later I saw them at the Portland Coliseum with a much bigger audience. They played Dark Side of the Moon all the way through several months before it was released

 

Saw Roger McGuinn in 1975 at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, CA. Then-unknown England Dan and John Ford Coley was the opening act.

 

Around 1976 I saw Jonathan Cain before he joined The Babys at the Handlebar Saloon in Santa Ana, CA. He played a Wurly and strapped-on ARP Odyssey while fronting the band. I remember him singing "Rhiannon".

 

Again at the Golden Bear in 1980 I saw Larry Carlton. He had two keyboard players and was doing instrumental prog-style music.

 

I used to play at a club a block away from the Golden Bear in 1983. They let me and another band member in during our break to see Tower of Power.

 

In 1993 I saw Eric Burdon and Brian Auger at a small club in Westwood, NJ.

 

Saw Fairport Convention at a church in Morristown, NJ in 1998.

 

Saw Arthur Lee and Love at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis, MD in 2005 about a year before he died.

 

In 2007 saw The Strawbs at The Strand in Lakewood, NJ. Keyboardist John Hawken was in the band. He was in the Nashville Teens and a founding member of Renaissance. He lives in NJ and I've gotten to hang out with him on a few occasions.

 

 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, Mills Dude said:

Another notable show at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY in the late 80s.


I grew up 30 minutes from The Chance. It remains my all time favorite venue. Of the many shows I’ve seen there, the most memorable was Stevie Ray Vaughan soon after his debut album.

 

Others:

Norah Jones in a Rochester restaurant. During an early year of the Rochester jazz festival, she was booked in January to play a restaurant as a venue. By the time of the festival in June, her debut album exploded & she was on the Tonight Show, Letterman, etc. The venue was WAY over the fire code. I got in through the kitchen.

 

The Pat Metheny Group in 1981 in a small college gym and at The Chance in 1983. I have a copy of “Travels” the band signed between sets.

 

REM was a warm up act for a concert in my college gym. Their first album was released that month.

 

McCoy Tyner with Michael Brecker at a NYC club in 1995-96.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hans-Joachim Roedelius at Velvet Lounge in DC.

 

Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (when Fareed Haque was a member) at Sangha Cafe in Takoma Park

 

Chick Corea and Gary Burton at Tiny Desk (NPR HQ)

 

Max Ochs at 611 Florida (house concert venue)

 

Carla Bozulich at Velvet Lounge

 

Mary Halvorson at Paperhaus (house concert venue)

 

 

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44 minutes ago, Mills Dude said:

The term 'legend' is certainly subjective, here's some of my legends.

 

Got to see a lot of jazz legends in small NYC venues like the Blue Note, etc.

 

1989 - Miles Davis at the Iridium (Iridium has changed locations many times over the years, can't remember where this incarnation was).

2007 - Bill Bruford's Earthworks.  Again at the Iridium (Can't remember if current location or near Lincoln Center)

2016 - Chick Corea during his residency at the Blue Note (As well as seeing Chick many times over the years there going back to the 80s)

1988?  - Dizzy Gillespie at the Lone Star Cafe NYC

2004 - Pat Metheny Group performing The Way Up at SUNY Purchase (well not that small of a venue)

80s-90s - McCoy Tyner so many times at different NYC venues.  He played pretty regularly at Sweet Basil's in the village.

80s-90s - Steve Gadd's Gang featuring Richard Tee (He left us way too early).  A lot of different clubs from my memory, Lone Star Cafe stands out.

80s-90s - Zawinul Syndicate.  Always an interesting show watching him bend the keyboards to his will.

 

Allan Holdsworth so many times at small dives, especially in the later years.  Last time was at the Turning Point in Piermont NY as mentioned above.  That joint is pretty local to me and always had a reputation of brining in decent names.  Another notable show at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY in the late 80s.

 

1997 - Kansas at The Chance.  Kansas was at a pretty low point in those days and Steve Walsh was strung out for the show.  Billy Greer ended up singing all the high parts.  Pretty sparse attendance, happy for them that their prospects have improved since then.  

You reminded me of seeing Zawinul Syndicate at Scullers. I was right in front of him and his T8, etc and a zillion volume pedals.

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Yes, seen many up close and personal over the decades - the SF Bay Area had a long history of great legends playing in small intimate venues.

 

But the most meaningful was spending one-on-one time time with Benny Green (extended masterclass event at Cal State). Very much changed my heart and mind about what I do and how I do it. 

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I saw Cedar Walton in a very small jazz club in Rome when I lived there about 25 years ago. I saw an ad in the local “what’s on in Rome” and I thought “Nah that’s never THE Cedar Walton?”, as the club was really small. I went anyway and yup it was him playing with a local rhythm section. About 25 people there so I sat about 10 feet from the band. I went up and had a chat with him later and he was really friendly. We chatted about everything and I mentioned how I enjoyed a Jazz messengers tune he did earlier on in the set. He said “Shit, I didn’t think anyone was really listening that much!” Very humble guy and a monster player. 

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In 1995 Northwest Air was promoting non-stop flights in our city, so they picked up the remainder of Ringo Starr's All Star Band shows in Canada. If I recall the rumours correctly, Ringo pulled out but the rest of the band took the gig anyway. Billy Preston, Felix Cavaliere, John Entwistle, Mark Farner, Randy Bachman and Mark Rivera, Liberty DeVitto. The gig was so poorly promoted that they only sold maybe 100 tickets in a 2200 seat soft-seater, so they moved the gig to a small club in the warehouse district and we got front-table seats, 15-20 feet from a 1' riser stage. Of course, my heroes were Billy & Felix, but it was cool to see Liberty bash away, and appreciate every player as a very competent covers-sideman. Meet 'n' greet with the band in the bar upstairs after the show was icing on the cake.

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I can think of a few...

 

Laura Nyro at The Bottom Line in NYC - about 6 different occasions from 1988 to 1994.
Dozens of jazz/fusion greats (Mike Brecker w/ Steps Ahead, Zawinul Syndicate, Stuff, David Sanborn, Spyro Gyra, etc.) at the same venue, a few years earlier.

Procol Harum at Boston City Winery, 2019.

Pat Metheny with selected ECM artists (Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, etc) at small club (can't remember the venue name), 1984.

Zawinul Syndicate (again!) at Iron Horse, Northampton MA, 1996.

 

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I saw Jimmy Smith when I was 15 years old and a small jazz club in Cincinnati called the Viking Lounge. My parents loved jazz organ and my father knew the owner of the club and asked if it would be alright to bring me to see the show. He gave us the best table in the house. I could lean forward and touch the B3 that Jimmy Smith was playing.

 

Saw Joey DeFransesco when he was very young at an even smaller jazz club called the Balligo Inn in West Conshohocken, PA. Actually went to see his father, Poppa John DeFrancesco on B3.

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The ones on the way up feel different from the ones on the way down. The greats I've seen in tiny rooms after they were famous, always left me with a sinking feeling of existential nihilism. 

OK, maybe that was a bit of projection...
 

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43 minutes ago, MathOfInsects said:

The ones on the way up feel different from the ones on the way down.

 

When I read @16251's OP, my mind went to a third option... those rare small venue gigs by artists that still draw big.  E.g., sometimes big acts will kick off tours with a teaser club date (e.g., Guns n Roses played the Troubadour in L.A. in 2016 to warm up for their reunion tour).  And I recall Bob Dylan purposefully played a series of shows in unusually small theaters for him, maybe 10 years ago.  And wasn't Prince known to do a "pop up" show every now and again?  Sometimes giant bands played club dates under a phony name, etc.

 

I don't have any stories about seeing gigs like these, and would be interested if others do.   

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I’ve never watched any of the greats in a small club… But once I was at a very small club in Paris with no more than 10 other people in the audience listening to Stefano Bollani Quintet. Not sure how big name he is for you over there, not even sure if he’s known to many European jazz fans but that was the best jazz performance I’ve ever seen or watched, live or recorded. I couldn’t believe someone can be that good, so for me he’s one of the greatest. 

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I went to see TOP approx 1974 (original members.) In line, me and friend didn't have tickets. Couple in front of us heard us talking and had an extra pair (bought at face value.) Was in first row. Was about 12 ft from stage as there was a dance floor. I never saw them again - never wanted to alter that memory. I loved when TOP released Hipper Than Hip (old live recording,) so I can better image that night.

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Saw Willie Dixon in a tiny basement club in Madison WI. Saw both Brian Auger and Joey D in the small room at the Surf Ballroom. Saw ELP's first American tour in the 1100 seat Kiel Opera House. Saw Jethro Tull Aqualung tour in a dirt floored armory, and Allman Brothers in the same location one week before they recorded the Fillmore East album. 

 

And saw Mahavishnu Orchestra in a small circular livestock pavilion. Jan rented my Hammond and blew up my leslie...

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I was fortunate enough to see James Booker a few times at the Maple Leaf Bar after I moved to New Orleans in 1982.  I used to sit about 10 -20 feet from him while he played the hell out of an upright.  He passed away towards the end of 1983. 

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I drove across the United States to Hermosa Beach California in 1978. All the way across I listened to "The Last Waltz" soundtrack on cassette, so when I saw Rick Danko on the marquee at the Lighthouse Cafe, I had to go. The Band had just broken up so I was curious to see who would show up on stage with him. Well, it was him (drunk), a guitar around his neck and a cassette player sitting on a barstool on stage playing Band tunes. No lie. As I left I asked the bartender to send up a drink for the cassette player,

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Since the size of the venues seems to fluctuate a bit, I was in a band in Fresno that played a club that seated 280 people - is that still small?

We were first call to open for out of town acts, we opened for Cold Blood, Edgar Winter Group, Prarie Oyster (Canadian country band) Suzy Bogguss and best of all, we not only opened for Bo Diddley, we were his back up band. I stole the bass player's gig because I was in the room when the BL got the call. 

We had dinner with Bo, practiced for 30 minutes or so and played a 2 1/2 hour set. 

 

The high point of my gigging "career" no doubt about it. 

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It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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1 hour ago, HSS said:

I was fortunate enough to see James Booker a few times at the Maple Leaf Bar after I moved to New Orleans in 1982.  I used to sit about 10 -20 feet from him while he played the hell out of an upright.  

you win! seriously, that is truly amazing.

 

dunno about all of 'em being legends, but i'm old and have been lucky enough to have seen a few folks from a pretty good vantage point.

 

-saw muddy waters from the side of the stage in a very small DE movie theater venue

-George thorogood played a party in my living room.

-saw prince at a nyc club aftershow gig.

-james brown at the original (i.e. small) lone star in NYC with Mick Jagger hanging out to see him too.

-Johnny Copeland in a Columbia University lecture hall

-Rolling Stones & B52's at a private party inside Radio City NYC. and while radio city isn't teeny (it is for the stones), this was seriously nuts.

-Dizzy Gillespie at my high school

-a seriously coked out/drunken NYC club afterhours jam of Steve Lukather, John Entwistle, Mick Fleetwood, and Steve Stevens. (it was horrible, but fun!)

 

 

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