The Year in Review

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It has taken me awhile to write this post. Maybe because I know my year of music will finally be over when it is posted. Maybe because I am not quite sure what to say. Probably a combo of the two, and many other, reasons.

So, it’s over. To recap; last year, at my 50th birthday in front of 120 of my closest friends and family, 15 Mummers and the band “No Good Sister,” I pledged to see 50 live shows in the upcoming year to celebrate the year. Music has always been, and will be, incredibly important to me and that is how I wanted to mark the year. With a big ‘ole loud, messy, noisy yearlong celebration that declared, metaphorically more than anything, “I am going into the next decade of my life even noisier than my first 5 decades.” This was not just I am woman hear me roar- this was going to be chaos. And indeed it was.

Here are my takeaways, in no particular order.

My favorite show. I got asked this question a lot during the year and there is no one answer. It would probably be easier to answer it based on categories or venue or groups of people who also attended, but I did not have one “favorite show.” I guess because I spent the year discovering new music and was surprised time and time again. Since I had to, basically, see a show a week I really got out of my comfort zone and started seeing bands I had never heard of. Some I thoroughly enjoyed and some not so much. I could have spent the year seeing every Free at Noon concert at XPN, which is pretty much my demographic- older music head who doesn’t have the time to see a lot of bands anymore but has the money to see a lot of concerts and does not want to upset their music sensibility. I could have also seen every large band coming through the Wells Fargo Center doing yet another reunion tour and reliving my past years of big concerts. I didn’t do that either. I visited a variety of venues, saw new bands and discovered different genres.

I learned, or, rather, it was reinforced, that I am a music lover, not a music critic. I can think of, offhand, two bands where I was like “yuck- these guys are really bad.” And actually one was just slightly racist so that influenced my feelings for their musicianship. The other band, a bluegrass one at a festival, was just, well, bad. It comes down to the single factor that I am in awe of people who have musical talent and choose to share it with the world. I have always said there are two types of people in the world- artists that can make music and people to support those artists. I am firmly in the latter group and take my responsibility very seriously. I am not going to go out of my way to find disparaging or snarky things to say about the courageous ones who get up in front of crowds, from 30,000 to 50, and share their passion and talent. I am always going to find the good in people, I just am.

I was continually humbled by my friends who throughout the year invited me to shows or asked about the progress. It not only kept me accountable, but I so appreciated my community being along for the ride. I also started thinking that this was not such a crazy idea after all. Actually, it was still a crazy idea but I appreciated that no one said that directly to my face. A special shout out to those 23 hard core blog followers who read each and every one and an extra shout out to the ones who read every one and commented (Kristen, Mom and Diane). That was awesome.

I found that writing this blog was curative as I told my story through music. There was rarely a show that did not conjure up some past event or memory in my life.  It is almost like music is a sixth sense to me. This past year, writing about different shows made me think about who I was during the time I was listening to the music and who I have become.  And that is why I also loved experiencing new bands and genres.  It means I am not too old to appreciate new things and I am not just living in the past.  As a self-declared lifelong learner, it was comforting to learn that is actually true.

The year by the numbers:

  • # of big (to me) music losses during this year- 2
    • Bowie and Prince
  • # of shows I tried to go to and did not get into- 1
    • Bruce Springsteen, The River Tour.  Don’t ask.  We have tickets for his September 7th show.
  • # of shows I did not write about but saw- 3
    • Strange Bowie Tribute show at the Fire, BC Camplight @ Ortliebs (same night of not getting into Bruce), Duffy String Band Serenade
  • # of shows I am glad I never have to see again – 3
    • The Made in America Festival, Brian Jonestown Massacre and Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns (sorry Cindy)
  • # of t-shirts bought- 7
  • # of CDs bought- 25
  • # of words written- 45,000
    • Yup, the average length of my posts was 900 words (for example, this one is 1,200 words)
  • # of bands-172
    • I attended three festivals and saw a lot of opening acts
  • # of unique friends who I saw a show with- 146
    • Seriously, I have a lot of great friends and a lot who like music as much as I do.
  • # of friends who I saw more than one show with- 22
  • # of shows seen after the year was up (but before this blog was posted)- 3
    • Courtney Barnett, Wilco and Dolly Parton- not at the same show, silly

And I save my biggest thank you and appreciation for my partner and love, Susan.  When I embarked on this year, the poor gal was forced to come along for the ride.  She was by my side (literally and figuratively) for many, many shows, encouraged me, read every blog and cheered me on throughout.  She not only turned me on to her music, but we learned more of each other’s history through the year.  Very cool.

And, so, the year comes to an end.  I am going to start rereading my posts since I never read them after posting, probably cringing the whole time.  I need to figure out what to do with all the ticket stubs I saved this year.  I need to consult with my book agent (ie, Dad) who has graciously offered to make this thing into a book so I will always have every post, since I may erase them after reading them.  I have some good shows lined up in the next couple of months and excited to experience the shows in the moment, instead of thinking about what I am going to write about the next day. Don’t fret, I am still taking notes and there may be a show here and there that will get posted.  For now, I am going to simply sign off with music in my head and gratitude in my heart…

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