Monthly Archives: March 2020

Changes in attitudes

My memories are hazy, but 42 years ago tonight, on March 31, 1978, I saw Jimmy Buffett play at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Because my memories of that night are hazy, I emailed my friend Doug this morning: “What are your memories, if any, of seeing Jimmy Buffett at the St. Paul Civic Center 42 years ago tonight, March 31, 1978?”

Doug and I had been friends and co-workers for little more than two months back then, but he asked me to go along. Sure, it sounded like an adventure. However, Doug’s memories also are hazy. “Did Linda Ronstadt open?”

No, man, it was Emmylou Harris, and I had look to that up some years ago. I remember nothing from her performance.

Our memories are hazy because both Doug and I are older than dirt, and because way too many substances legal and illegal were enjoyed that evening.

Man, how long ago was that night? I was still almost a year away from dating the young lady I eventually married. So long ago that she and I have since seen two Jimmy Buffett shows together but both were almost 30 years ago.

What I can tell you about that night, having found a review of that show:

— The Concert Bowl was set up in the Civic Center — a hockey rink — by hanging a huge black drape across one of the blue lines, cutting the place in half. There were about 6,000 of us in the place.

— The sound was terrible, especially for two acts with solo acoustic sets.

— It was the first stop on Emmylou’s American tour. She’d just wrapped up a six-week European tour and had a new version of her backing band, the Hot Band. She covered Chuck Berry’s “C’est La Vie” and the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere.”

— Buffett played for almost two hours. Here’s the set list from two nights before at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. Guessing the St. Paul show was much the same. I imagine 21-year-old me got pretty fired up when Buffett played “Margaritaville” and “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” and “Cheeseburger In Paradise.” But I really don’t remember.

42 years on, give me the more thoughtful songs that 21-year-old me almost certainly didn’t appreciate.

Like this one, co-written by Buffett’s friend, the late, great Steve Goodman.

“Banana Republics,” Jimmy Buffett, from “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes,” 1977.

It’s said to be from another show on the Cheeseburger In Paradise tour, from June 1978, a little more than two months later, at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.

Somehow, it seems timely to still be singing about banana republics all these years later. Doesn’t seem that it’ll be too long before we have a bunch of soon-to-be expatriated Americans fleeing to the tropics, one step ahead of the law.

Late at night you will find them
In the cheap hotels and bars
Hustling the senoritas
While they dance beneath the stars

One more fun fact: The night before, Journey played the same venue with Van Halen and Ronnie Montrose as opening acts. Tickets were $6.

Van Halen was just a month into its first national tour.

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The smoker you drink …

50 years ago last night, on Tuesday, March 10, 1970, The Association played a show at the old Brown County Arena in Green Bay. I posted that music history tidbit to our local Facebook history groups last night.

Which led my friend Kim to ask …

“No idea if it’s true or not, but I had heard many years ago that the original James Gang with Joe Walsh was the opening act at this show. AND that the illustrious Mr. Walsh got arrested at the Midway Motor Lodge for possession of pot. After all these years, can anyone confirm or deny this story for me?”

Well, now. Can’t resist that one. It is mostly true.

The James Gang did not open for The Association at the Arena that night. However, the James Gang was on a bill with the Youngbloods at the Arena roughly 6 months later, on Friday, Sept. 18, 1970.

And, yes, Joe Walsh, 22, of Kent, Ohio, was busted for possession of marijuana after the Brown County Sheriff’s Department raided his room at the Holiday Inn on Friday, Sept. 18, 1970. He was freed on a $500 bond so the James Gang could begin a month-long tour of the UK three weeks later.

Joe Walsh — thereafter referred to as “Joseph F. Walsh” in the Green Bay paper’s court stories — apparently never returned to Green Bay to face the music.

On Monday, Nov. 2, 1970, Walsh missed his arraignment date. That day, the James Gang was off between shows in Dania, Florida, and Atlanta.

Four days later, on Friday, Nov. 6, 1970, Walsh was arraigned, represented by two attorneys from Milwaukee. That day, the James Gang played two shows at the Westbury Music Fair in Jericho, N.Y.

In late April 1971, Walsh’s lawyers were still arguing their case. Walsh’s case was continued to May 20, but there’s no further mention of it in the Green Bay paper. That day, the James Gang was off between shows in New York and Cincinnati.

Three local college students — a 19-year-old man, a 19-year-old woman and an 18-year-old woman — also were charged with possession in the wake of the bust at the Holiday Inn. Their cases were dismissed.

My guess, having covered the courts in the late ’70s: Either Joe Walsh’s case also was dismissed or the judge simply forfeited Walsh’s $500 bond and called it a day. $500 was a lot of money back then — $3,300 in today’s dollars.

Now, about that Youngbloods/James Gang show. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, it was a …

Weird Night at the Arena

Melanie, the pop-folk singer, was to have been the headliner. She canceled. She was said to have had “a bronchial ailment.”

So the Youngbloods took her place. They rehearsed on stage, then started the show, playing first. “The Youngbloods were plagued by electronic breakdowns, feedback and tuning troubles,” my friend Warren Gerds wrote in the next day’s paper. That, and the Arena’s poor acoustics swallowed up their sound.

Then the James Gang came on stage.

“The James Gang is a head band. Upon finding that out, about 100 listeners headed for the door. Others left in a steady, strong trickle,” Warren wrote. “The James Gang had no problems with acoustics because they overpowered the arena’s echoing traits.”

At the time, the James Gang was still touring behind its 1969 debut LP, “Yer’ Album.” Here’s a cut that “head band” may or may not have played that night in Green Bay, clearing the house on a night when only 500 people came out to a show in a 5,000-seat venue.

“Funk #48,” the James Gang, from “Yer’ Album,” 1969, which I saw while record digging not too long ago. All three band members — Joe Walsh, bass player Tom Kriss and drummer Jim Fox — are credited as co-writers.

This is the only James Gang LP on which Kriss plays. Dale Peters took his place for the next record, “James Gang Rides Again.” On which, of course, “Funk #49” was the first cut.

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