I just went to a concert by a group called Playing for Change with a couple of my girlfriends. We had dinner first at The Aladdin Theater, and it was packed. There was a table for two, so a couple sitting at a table for four agreed to change with us, so I felt I needed to entertain them with whining that our food was taking forever to get there and asking for some of theirs when they were served. Boy were they laughing, especially after I’d had a couple of IPA’s on an empty stomach. Everything I said was funny.  Ha Ha

After we ate we went in and got our seats. The band came out and were quite good, except when they played reggae music which, excuse me if I’m not diverse in my musical taste, but it all sounds pretty much the same to me (which is the exact thing my dad used to say about my rock music). Besides, I like songs I know better than new stuff, especially at a concert. But it turned out to be good that they played those songs because then I was able to grab a little shuteye.

I enjoyed the concert – it was mostly an older crowd and we were swaying back and forth, a couple of people lit their Bic’s, and it was like old times. And actually, it was a whole lot like the concerts I went to back in the day. The Allman Brothers or Leon Russell came through Knoxville, Tennessee practically every other week, it seemed like, and there were about twenty of us who never missed a concert.  Back then there was a cloud of smoke at every concert, and the majority of it was not tobacco. Complete strangers passed those funny cigarettes back and forth – it didn’t matter if you partook or not, it was good concert etiquette to pass whatever was handed to you along. Someone would put a doobie in your right hand and you’d already have one in your left to pass off. I’m sure the second-hand smoke was enough to have an affect on those of us who were there just to hear the music. Oh yeah, that reminds me, we saw the Doobie Brothers, too.

I remember getting so sleepy because I had to be at work early every morning, and I’d pray that the concert would get over. Then finally the lead guitar guy would do his excruciatingly long solo of eardrum busting high notes, and when he quit everyone cheered – but I’m sure it was because it was finally over, not because anyone liked it. Then they’d leave the stage to pounding feet on bleachers and hollers and claps, and I would start praying again that the lights would come on.

But they never did. After the racket continued for a while, the band would sheepishly come back out, put their guitars on, and start playing the one song you’d been waiting to hear all night, which brought the house down. And they dragged the song out for an eternity, and then they’d go back off stage, and the freaking lights would still stay off.  Doggone it! They’d come back and do a slow song nobody on earth wanted to hear, and when they were done we gave them polite applause and the lights went on, and I could go home.

Same thing happened tonight. Playing for Change comes back out and does their “Stand By Me” signature song, getting the audience to sing with them amid the cheering, swaying, and Bic lighters, and then they leave again, but the lights stay off, and there’s one guy still up on stage. He slowly raises a microphone to his mouth and everything gets really quiet and he starts singing, “Amazing Grace.” Well now there’s a slow one that he made even slower – and I thought, “this is the same formula they were using back in the day.” But I had to give him credit, he sang it very well, and it was all the more special because he was actually blind – wearing an eye patch even.

All in all it was a great concert, but now you must excuse me. I’m very, very sleepy – just like in the good old days.