The Church of Live Music

I believe in the Church of Baseball. I've tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.

Susan Sarandon in "Bull Durham"

The most amazing religious experience I ever had occurred after graduating college. I was visiting a friend of a friend at an all-black, Seventh Day Adventist college in Huntsville, Alabama. We all went to church on the Sabbath and, as you can imagine in a southern church, there was singing. This was not the typical white church Sunday morning murmmerings. This was calling out to the Lord to come down and sing next to you- and he would be a fool to NOT answer your call, singing. Solos that curled your toes. The choir raising the roof. The congregation standing and swaying and singing along.

I had goosebumps. I felt God all around me. I sang along, and clapped til my hands were sore. (My friend, also white, clapped on the off beat at one point and we both looked at each other, giggling, hoping no one noticed!).

It was the music which helped bring the religious spirit home to me.

During the 90s, we'd visit the Gospel Tent at the Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans when Aaron Neville (The Neville Brothers) would guest sing with a local choir. Hearing that man belt out "Amazing Grace" in his unique way was always a highlight for me (and Scott would always sing from his commercial- 'the touch, the feel of cotton'). Those 4 days of music were always so spirit lifting.

After much soul searching and without being blasephemous, I can honestly say that I believe in the Church of Live Music. (It doesn't matter where you feel spiritual, as long as you do). For me, seeing a band play enlivens my soul and that is where I always feel the most alive. I married a man who, well, we've never actually discussed this, but I think he may feel the same way. I felt so lucky to have found someone who shares my musical inclination, and who was as willing, if more so, to be in a mosh pit one night then at a Dead Show the next, smiling all the while (or perma-grin, as we call it).

When Scott & I took our very young kids to see their first live band- a U2 cover band (one of my all time favorite bands-U2, not the cover band), the kids were jumping, clapping & having a ball. Scott & I were both so proud. It's genetic! They ARE little US!

At a concert this summer, a man was in the row in front of me. Let's describe him as being a rather large man; of generous proportion. The show started and he got to his feet with the crowd. I watched him jump and dance and clap for the entire time the band played. It had to be the most excercise he'd had in years, and he was dripping sweat by the encore. But he was blissful. He is clearly a member of the flock.

While I am an admitted music snob, I do always get excited when someone tells me they are seeing a band (even if the thought of seeing that band myself would send chills of horror (snob, I say!) up my spine.) I always want to hear about their experiences at the show. What they sang. How they performed... (Wendy, I'm looking at you seeing Brittany Spears, but I heard all about the show!).

My favorite hair cutting gal Laura was all excited to see a show with her high school BFFs. They were all going to see 'New Kids on the Block' and 'Backstreet Boys'. I could not help but laugh (nose in air), but the next time I saw her, I asked how the show was. She gushed for 15 minutes about the people in the crowd and the bands performances. She was totally feeling it, even weeks later, and loved it.

My friends the MacKenzies get the 3-Day Lollapalooza passes and this year, brought their 3 and 7 year old girls in for free on Friday night. I love that their youngest Lilly told me that the last band she saw were The Kills. What an experience!

What concert has stayed with you? Why? And if you feel like sharing- what are your top five concerts ever?


Nirvana at Aragon Ballroom

Sonic Youth at The Riv

The Head and the Heart opening for The Decemberists at Interlochen, MI 2011

Pearl Jam opens for Smashing Pumpkins & The Red Hot Chili Peppers- at Aragon 1991

Paul Simon with Ladysmith Black Mombazo 1991

I wonder who will be Sam and Zoe's favorite? I hope I get to go with them!


Filed under: Music

Tags: Aaron Neville, Bull Durham, music


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  • Hey Kelley... you know which concert I'm going to mention as my favorite of all time!!! Yelp, you guessed it, The Swell Season @ the Chicago Theatre back in 2008!! Not only had the music moved me in the movie that Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova did in the movie 'Once', but after they won for best song @ the Academy Awards, it was nearly impossible to get tickets for their performance when they came to Chicago (sold out online in the first 10 minutes!!!). I was so bummed that I wouldn't get to see them that I wrote to them to convey my passion for their music and tried to explain in words what their music did for me. It was one of my happiest days ever when their band manager called to say that Glen and Marketa got my letter at their first venue in Phoenix and how 'moved' they were by my letter and how it 'set the tone' for the beginning of their tour after their big oscar win!!! I was on the floor beating my hands and feet with pure joy and excitement. And if that wasn't good enough, Glen and Marketa were going to 'set me up' with tickets to the show in Chicago for myself, my husband and a couple of friends!! Did I mention that they also included back stage passes for after the concert??? They made a fan for life with me then and there. Then the excitement of the concert came, and when Glen started to play and the music floated up throughout the auditorium.... I felt as if I, too, was being lifted into the ceiling as their music drifted almost eerily but oh so sweetly throughout the interior of this beautifully-lit, ornate theatre. I don't know if I am describing this as well as it felt..(I do totally get what you are saying Kelley, about a 'spiritual feeling' at a really good concert!!).. but that was a few moments in time and concert that I will never forget!!!! :0)

    That James concert @ the Vic Theatre ranks up there, too, for me. I felt like that was such an uplifting experience when the entire audience kept singing the lyrics of one of Tim Booth's songs back to him as to somehow honor him for giving us those great lyrics that strike so many chords in so many people. And the fact that they seemed to go on and on forever..... that was such a moment in time as far as concerts go!!!!!

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