I realize that I too often characterize myself as "old." It's hard not to, when you are the only one of your friends who can remember where she was when JFK was assassinated. (San Jose Elementary School, Room 8 - second grade. I watched my teacher cry.)
The thing is, most of the time, I don't feel any different than I did when I was 30 -- unless I do the math and remember that was 25 years ago... or when one of my friends starts freaking out over turning 40 and I realize that I'm even 15 years older than that!
Or what happened Memorial Day weekend: I go to a concert headlined by a faded rock act from the 1970's.
I tend not to do a lot of this; I blame the years I worked in the music business. It's hard to pay full price for concert tickets when you used to get them all for free (even if that was three decades ago).
My sister has no such qualms, and regularly revisits the pop idols of our youth -- occasionally dragging me with her. The first time was about ten years ago, to see the Moody Blues.
The only other time I had seen them perform was during the 80's, when I was still sponging off the major record companies and the band was playing to an audience of 18,000 at the Inglewood Forum.
This time around, the band was headlining a showroom at a hotel in Lake Tahoe - capacity about 500 people. And as I glanced around at the others in the audience, I wondered why I was in a room filled with so many senior citizens in their 50's and 60's.
And then I remembered that I was pushing 50, too.
The audience didn't seem to mind that the performers were no longer in their svelte, rock star prime...
...despite the fact that time (and I would guess some hard living) had also taken a toll on their voices, and even on their musicianship. Lead singer Justin Hayward postured all over the stage in a too-tight leather pants, seemingly unaware that he looked more like a grandfather than a rock god.
The rest of them appeared too tired to move at all. I couldn't help noticing that a much younger, second drummer was on hand to keep time.
Between the geezerdom of the audience and the artistic deterioration of the performers, I left that show feeling somewhat depressed about my own advancing years... and I decided I would avoid any more dates with the music of my past.
There have been exceptions: like the time my sister (again!) dragged me to see the Who in concert, or last year, when friends took us to see James Taylor and Carole King at the Hollywood Bowl. Thankfully, these shows were terrific -- and while I still felt shocked at the balding, gray heads of the audiences (there's no way I look like those old fogies!), the performances were entertaining and sharp.
And so I figured I had a 50-50 shot when my sister suggested we all see Boz Scaggs when he passed through Sacramento last month.
Are you too young to know Boz Scaggs? He of the distinctive "blue-eyed soul"-y voice? Here's a pretty good video from about 25 years ago:
Scaggs has lived in the San Francisco area since the psychedelic 60's, when he sang lead for his high school buddy Steve Miller's band. I was a big fan of his 1976 breakout album, Silk Degrees, which was released just as I was emerging from a long, dark period in my young life. The first single from that LP, "It's Over," was a bouncy dance tune with really mean lyrics ("Why can't you just get it through your head... it's over, it's over now...")
It made me happy. Listening to it now still makes me happy.
Apparently, after some years of semi-retirement (when he was best known as co-owner of a San Francisco club called Slim's -- which he still owns), Scaggs started hitting the road again (although he doesn't appear to travel often to Los Angeles. Then again, how would I know since I don't go to concerts any longer?)
"I saw him in Reno a couple of years ago and it was a blast," my sister said.
So what could I say? (No pun intended, as that's another of Scaggs' old hits). We were in.
But I was a little bit apprehensive. For one thing, Memorial Day weekend was unseasonably cold in Sacramento... and the show was being held outdoors...
...at the Radisson. (And nothing says class like a two-star hotel.)
It was also weirdly organized. My sister thought she'd purchased reserved seats through Ticketmaster, and had even paid extra for better ones... only to learn that the entire show was festival seating. However, those of us who paid the premium were given wristbands and herded into a special line -- and when the doors opened to the outdoor venue, we found ourselves sitting right in the front row.
On top of that, it stopped raining long enough for Mr. Scaggs and his band to put on a helluva show.
By the way -- his voice sounds just as good as ever.
I felt transported to my 20-something self.
I think he had that effect on the rest of the audience, too. The distinctive aroma of marijuana wafted through the place. And by the time of the encore, our front-row seats were no longer an advantage, because so many elderly audience members were blocking our view and shaking their booties.
You have not lived until you've seen a bouncer try to make some old grandma go back to her seat. It's funny stuff.
Too bad he didn't sing "It's Over."