Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Bottle Rockets vs. Farm Aid

I would not call my two daughters spoiled in the least, but in terms of seeing music, they are pretty lucky. Living in Milwaukee, less than 90 minutes from Chicago, we are located driving distance to all types of great shows and festivals. Milwaukee loves to tout itself as the "City of Festivals" and pumps up Summerfest as the World's largest music festival, but I find myself more impressed with the outlying WI festival line ups and the incredible offerings in Chicago at their various street fairs.

In the past two years my girls (age 7 and 9) have had the chance to see Slobberbone, Glossary, Backyard Tire Fire, Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare Jr., The Deadstring Brothers, Lucero, Airborne Toxic Event, Jeff Tweety, Built to Spill... I am guessing there are more, but that list alone is a pretty good start. The Bottle Rockets are on that list too. They have seen them twice, including this summer in St. Louis opening up LouFest. It is also fair to say that The Bottle Rockets albums are on heavy rotation at our home and in our cars.

This weekend, with my wife out of town, I decided to head down to Farm Aid 2010 and walk the lot to see if any scalpers were stuck with tickets. The initial draw for me was to see Neil Young live for the first time and to see Willie Nelson again. I pretty much knew that my girls could not last until 11:00pm but I figured this was a semi-historic event and there was bound to be some good music in the noon - 9:00 time frame. I picked up my teenage nephew, who is learning guitar and taking a big interest in music, and the four of us headed down to the bars outside the stadium to see if we could find tickets. Luck was on our side and we wound up with aisle seats in the first level in the 7th row. Absolutely perfect.

By the time we made it to our seats the Band of Horses was wrapping up. We stayed and saw Lukas Nelson and The Promise of the Real (Willie Nelson's son,) Jamey Johnson, Jason Mraz, Jeff Tweedy, Norah Jones, Kenny Chesney, Dave Matthews, and John Mellencamp. Willie came out and played with a few of the artists.

The girls loved being at the show. Lukas Nelson ripped it up. He played the guitar behind his back and with his teeth and you could see that he had broken a guitar string during the last song. The girls could not get enough of this. My youngest queued the classic Tom and Jerry line right on time: "You can't play guitar with out a guitar string." Jason Mraz was a hit as they knew the words to a few songs from the radio. My nephew was taken by Dave Matthews acoustic take on All Along the Watchtower and Satellite. Mellencamp came on when the sun was down and the full band and light show was pretty impressive for the girls.

Many of the artists played stripped down sets with no drums. My girls asked after every acoustic set "Will the next band play loud?"
Well, they are all pretty loud, don't you think?
"No, like with real guitars and drums?"

Ahhh. Be still, my heart.

As expected, girls were out of gas a little after 9:00 and we had to take off. Most of the car ride home was talking about our favorite bands or songs. When the discussion came to full band vs. acoustic sets my girls shared the following gems:

"I like rock and roll, like The Bottle Rockets."
"Yeah, they don't even have acoustic guitars."
"When we saw them in St. Louis, we almost knew every song."
"yeah, and every song has drums, and they are really loud."

I do not know if The Bottle Rockets have a Jr. fan club, but I have the feeling one might be starting at our house.

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