by Timothy Wood
For a couple of years now, I have been lurking around this great site, mostly to read about new reissues, concerts and scanning the guest book for stories etc., On a few occasions I would post about my experience as a fan of The Band which for me was the started at the time of the 80's reunion, while I was just graduating high school in Connecticut. Since I started checking this site regularly, since about 1998, I have from time to time sent Jan various articles I would come across on the web that he would share in the What's New section. I decided that someday I would go down the cellar and find my old scrapbook of concert tickets that I kept from the late 70's to the early 90's and send them off to be a part of this awesome website.
My memory was not as good as I thought, as I there were a few shows I had little recollection of, so some of the info below is not as complete, particularly with set lists or memorable moments, but in some form or another (set lists, tickets, reviews, ads etc) I have pieced together what amounted to 14 shows over a three year period (84-87) and added my comments to each show as best I could recall. During that period I had seen the Band, or various combo's or solo outings more than any other artist partly due to that fact that they toured the area so much, but mostly because I couldn't get enough of them. For me, the loss of Richard, and the lack of a new album, combined with a bit of burnout caused me to lose interest, and after 87, I would only see Rick Danko twice, once by accident (1992), and once, out of curiosity at a free show in my hometown (1999).
The time I spent catching them live and the various combo's of members I saw are each documented below with either tickets stubs, ad's or some other physical reminders of the shows that I had caught over that period. One thing I only now discovered was that there was a common thread of each show with the presence of Rick Danko, who was I was a fan of particularly. The shows happened in one of two areas, Connecticut/New York area, where was from, or Washington, D.C. where I spent one year in college circa 84/85. In addition to my own collection of materials, I did do some google-ing and also crossed reference my recollections with information I found on this and other sites. I found my memory pretty reliable but things like opening acts have escaped me over time.
During the reunion tour, they did come to Connecticut once prior to my first show, sometime in fall of 83 I believe but I don't recall date or venue. So my experience starts with a show at the West Hartford Agora, outside Hartford Connecticut in April 1984.
Performer: The Band
Location: West Hartford Agora, West Hartford, CT
The West Hartford Agora, was, I believe, part of the famous Agora chain of which I think only Cleveland may still exits, In Connecticut, there were two, one in Hartford, one in New Haven, Hartford had gone under the names Stage West, Agora Ballroom, West Hartford Ballroom, and then, I believe late in the 80's was totaled by vandals who from what I remember went in there in the middle of the night and destroyed the place using chainsaws. The West Hartford Agora was a warehouse style room that could hold maybe 1000 people with 2 stages in a rectangular room. One stage at the long end for bigger shows and one on the side in the opposite corner for smaller show, and the room would be half closed off where the larger stage sat. There was a loft that bisected the room where I think the lighting people would work, and there always seemed to be some privileged guests sitting up there to, as I recall. Over the years I had caught a few up and comers (Stevie Ray Vaughn, Huey Lewis) or down and outs (Jack Bruce, Jerry Garcia, before the GD's mid 80's resurgence) I remember the Ramones played there frequently, The Clash (minus Mick Jones) as well as local favorites like Max Creek, NRBQ and the Shaboo All-Stars.
I was in my freshman year of college in New Haven at the time, and I was able to purchase tickets to this April 19th show at the legendary Toads Place in New Haven, Toads would probably be most famous for the Rolling Stone doing a rehearsal show there prior to their Steel Wheels reunion tour circa 1989, but was an awesome small club in the Yale University Section of New Haven where I caught more than a few shows over the years.
Another rambling side note, in that pre internet age, my weekly ritual would be to scan the free local papers that every town has, for me it was the New Haven Fairfield and Hartford Advocate's with their music heavy advertisements. As I became aware of the Band, The Village Voice in NY became a valued resource, particular for shows at such venues as The Ritz, The Pier, Jones Beach and of course the LEGENDARY Lone Star Café.
The Agora Show started with a set by the Cate Brothers Band and I had arrived early enough in the show to grab a standing spot (no seats at the Agora) directly in front of the spot on the stage where Richard would sit (stage right?) I don't recall much of the Cates show, wasn't a fan, wasn't really there for them, never heard of them. They eventually did leave and then came back out a short time later with the rest of the Band.
I have posted to the guest book here previously about a few shows, and again my first impression of seeing them was how skinny I though they all looked. Rick looked healthy, and probably looked the least changed from the Last Waltz days. I think he was favoring Hawaii print shirts around that time. I can still recall the thrill of being that close to people I considered legends even then. The songs pretty much what was recorded on the video "The Band is Back" Milk Cow Boogie, Java Blues, You Don't Know Me added to Band staples. It was around this time in my concert going career that I had started to keep set lists of most show I would attend, which I would do sporadically over the years, At this show I was able to do that one better and grab the set list off the stage! I have included a copy of this too As far as I can tell from my recent research, no tapes are in circulation from this show, but down the line there were a few show I attended that have appeared in the "Tapes" sections of this site
All I can say about this show was I was hooked and here began a 2 and a half year odyssey of catching every show I could.
Location: Greater Hartford Community College, East Hartford, CT
This show as the Greater Hartford Community College I found out about from a local paper article included below. This show I caught with a friend from my freshman year at college who wasn't much of a Band fan. The hall was one of those multi purpose halls, with a stage on one end and some folding chairs set up on the floor, sort of like a high school gym with a stage to one end. I sat in the front row again which was set back a bit too far from the stage, like 10 feet and off to the side, stage right, as several people grabbed up the middle. Unlike the Agora show, no securities near the stages. There was a piano and a guitar set up. It was just Rick and Richard and later on in the show Shredi Volmer on harmonica. Again I was able to grab a handwritten set list, which matches the list on the tape section of The Band website. Beyond the songs listed on the tape the set included
After the show I waited outside and when Rick and Richard came outside I was able to get them to autograph some paper I grabbed somewhere at the school. Shredi went to sign it and I said, "all set man" I always felt a bit of a jerk for doing that but I don't regret it. As a side note, I had rode to the show from my buddy's house on a couple of 10 speed bikes. On the ride home, I hit a pothole the front tire popped off and I went over the handlebars and broke my hand somewhere in East Hartford.
Performer: The Band (Arlo Guthrie, Artie/Happy Traum David Bromberg)
Location: Mount Watatic Ski Area, Ashby, MA
Every spring the local free paper would list shows coming to the greater New England area, with section dedicated to festivals, it was there I believe I saw The Band listed as playing as show at a ski slope I had never heard of, in a town I have never been to, about two hours away in Ashby Mass. Being car-less at this stage, and public transportation not an option, I asked my older brother, and his girlfriend if they would take me, not knowing where the place was.
Mt Watatic was a closed, or soon to close ski area on the New Hampshire border. On this bill were The Band, Arlo Guthrie, Happy and Artie Traum, and other who I had never heard of before. I don't recall set lists, didn't write or grab one from this show. Do recall sitting on the side of the slope, and a nice day grooving with a few thousand fans. It was a fun day. I was able to retrieve in my research a review from the Boston Globe from that show below. I also was able to track down the promoter, but he has nothing of interest to donate or submit. I didn't include the Globe article, since I'm sure its copyrighted but it was a favorable review.
Location: West Hartford Agora, West Hartford, CT
Same venue as my first concert, don't really remember anything about this show unfortunately. I'm sure I had a good time.
Performer: Danko w/Bob Margolin
Location: The Gentry, Washington DC
This show I recall quite well. Gentry was more or less a pub, couldn't have been 50 people in the place total, and the seats were in a dining area to the right of the bar area which was a separate room. I went alone, as I was new to the Washington area, having transferred there my sophomore year. The show was billed as Bob Margolin and Rick Danko, and I think BM opened up with a set of his own, Then Rick, then both together,
I remember Rick talking to the crowd, taking requests. Of the songs, I do remember "Christmas Must Be Tonight." And I think it was the first time I heard him sing the Lionel Richie song "My love" and wondering whether I should like it or not. After his set he hung out at the bar and I was able to introduce myself to him and I asked him if I could buy him a drink. He said yes, and ordered Cognac, which cost whatever I had in my pocket and he handed me back the last sip. Then he said, "be careful, that's firewater" which I immediately recalled from his vocal on Stage Fright, made me grin. He asked if I had any requests, and I said Pepote Rouge, to which he gave me a strange look. I must have really been into Islands at that point, that's all I can come up with. He struck up a conversation with another fan at the bar who told him he had long been looking for his solo album. Rick offered to send him a copy, and I asked him if he would do the same for me which he said he would do. Of course that never happened but for a few weeks the thought of getting something in the mail from him keep me anxiously checking my mailbox. Eventually I found it in a cutout bin at some local record shop. This show is listed correctly in the tape section.
Performer: Byrds (Danko)
Location: Club Saba, Washington DC
My first show at this place? I was enough of a classic rock fan that I might have gone to this show without Rick in the bill. It was a Flying Burrito Brothers opening -Byrds Tribute show as I recall with a mix of songs from Band, Byrds, Blondie Chaplin, I recall this place having a very HIGH stage for a relatively small place.
Location: Club Saba, Washington DC
A Danko/Manuel/Hudson show billed as such, I think Levon was filming a movie at this time but couldn't say for certain which one it might have been (The Dollmaker?) And I believe members of the Call might have filled in.
Performer: Byrds (Danko/Manuel)
Location: Woodbury Ski and Racquet, Woodbury, CT
Back in Connecticut now, This show I definitely remember more vividly, close to home show outdoors at another ski hill. Max Creek back in those days a Grateful Dead tribute band, with a few original songs, opened up. The Allman Brothers drummers Jaimo and Butch Trucks were on the bill, but don't really remember what they did that day. Nice sunny day. No set list. Did save an article from the local arts paper that was less than flattering.
Performer: The Band (opening for CSN)
Location: Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT
This show, opening up for Crosby Stills and Nash was the first show I saw with Jim Weider on guitar. After show upon show of being right on top of the stage this was the first time I saw them from a distance, (I think Hartford fit 12,000 or so, and it appeared that most of the fans came in to catch the opener) I felt good for them seeing them in front of a huge crowd even if it was just as an opening act. I did like seeing them back to the five-man configuration; I never really like that Cate Brothers taking up so much of the stage. I was a huge CSN fan also, so of course I stayed around for their show, can't recall if any one from the Band jammed with them during their set. Something tells me Danko might have, but I'm not sure about that. This show is listed in the tape section.
Performer: The Band (with Jonathan Edwards)
Location: New Haven Palace, New Haven, CT
This show that also appears in the "tape section" was actually in New Haven, not Hartford at the New Haven Palace Theater, which was near, and might be part of Yale University. This was a gorgeous old hall, with seats and I believe a pretty much sold out crowd. I would guess it sat 2000 so it was nice to see them drawing nice and appreciative crowd. I recall being about 2-3 rows back or so, stage left.
Performer: The Band minus Garth
Location:Lone Star Cafe, NYC
My last show with Richard Manuel in the group. Took a bus to Penn Station with a friend, his first time seeing them, I do recall it being slushy and the roads wet and nasty. Bought tickets day of the show, but got there early so had to walk around and kill some time before they would let us in. Lone Star was probably the most intimate place to catch anyone so this show was a particular thrill. If my memory serves me, using the photo above as a reference, the stage was pretty much directly to the right against the right wall with a mirror and a huge state of Texas Flag hanging near the stage. Across from the stage was the bar, and there was a balcony that overlooked the stage both back and to the left (over the bar area) the place couldn't hold much more than 150 people and it was TIGHT! I have since obtained a copy of the show, I remembered Rick announcing Garth was stuck in the snow and they would start without him. The other memorable thing, other than being about 8 feet away, was during the first 3-4 songs I was hollering for "Don't do It" which is quite audible on the boot from the show. That would be me. On the disk you can hear Levon say "wanna try don't do it?" and sure enough about 5 songs into their set, they played my request! Might be my favorite rock and roll moment. I never heard them play it before or since. And by searching the tape section of The Band Website, I think it was one of the few times the reunited Band ever played it. So I guess I can tell my grandkids something when I'm older, and I play them that show.
I think we were cleared out of the bar after the first set, so they could bring in another round of paying customers, so I didn't catch the later show, or any of the other shows they played there that weekend, but I lot of gems on the CD's from that weekend are still on my IPOD, Wish you were here tonight, Share your love, and of course, By request, Don't Do It.
Location: West Hartford Agora, West Hartford, CT
First post Richard show, and they were not using the "Band" name at this time, as the ad and ticket show. I don't recall much from this show. I think my interest was starting to wane and went basically because It was close, cheap and convenient and I was feeling sad about Richard.
Performer: The Band
Location: Lone Star Cafe, NYC
This show, I only recall that I wanted to attend due to the fact that it was approximately the 10 year anniversary of the Last Waltz and I was hoping they would acknowledge it in some manner. I don't really recall anything specific about this show, I probably have morphed my memories of the other Lone Star Show I attended earlier in the year, prior to Richards passing. There is a photo on the Band site from this show of Garth on piano, would love to see if there are more pics from that date.
A sad footnote was the discovery during my research that the location of the former Lone Star caught fire last month. The Lone Star Cafe star moved to uptown Manhattan around 1989, and became the LoneStar Roadhouse.
Performer: The Band (with Taj Mahal and Hot Tuna)
Location: New Haven Palace Theater
Think I caught this show more or less because a friend of mine was a Hot Tuna fan, so I went along. I don't recall, but I think shows around this timeframe had Fred Carter on board. This was one of three shows they did in the area on that swing, with a show in Springfield Ma on 1/17/87 and one in Groton 1/18/87. This was also my last show by The Band.
An article from the Fairfield Advocate I saved from that show quotes Band Manager Bob Illjes saying "The group has a wealth of strong material these days" And Andy Robinson was quoted saying the group was heading to New Orleans to record a video at a place called Tipitinia's with Allen Toussaint and Bobby Charles? Anyone??
I had two other in run in's with Rick Danko since those shows. One being the Donald Fagan New York Nights shows, where Rick showed up, and played with Fagan and Dion at the Lone Star Roadhouse 1/11/92 . And then, much later, toward the end of his life I caught a show at Waterplace Park in Providence Rhode Island where he performed with the Kim Trusty Band. I think I rode my bike down, I had moved to Rhode Island years earlier. Rick wasn't out on stage yet, so I rode away and then rode by and was shocked by his size, so I stayed for a song or two and then kept riding.