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j45nick

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On a last minute whim, the Flower Girl and I trundled down the road in a blinding rainstorm to Fort Pierce (Florida) to catch David Crosby on his solo acoustic tour, after a couple of half-decent seats became available a few hours before the show . I actually had some reservations about going, since I've been a fan of his voice and songwriting since the Byrds days back in the 1960's.

 

Time hasn't been kind to a lot of the great performers of my youthful days, to the point where I almost dread hearing them. In particular, Crosby's clear, mellow tones and acutely accurate pitch (whether singing harmony or lead with Graham Nash) are tough to maintain when you are past 70.

 

As you might expect, there was a lot of grey hair on heads and faces in the audience--maybe more hair on faces than on heads--and I would put the average age of he crowd at 55. I only saw one kid of maybe 20, and I think he was there with his grandfather. It's probably just as well, as some of Crosby's off the cuff comments are pretty profane.

 

Anyhow, he made it clear from the start that he was only doing his own material, and most of the show would be new stuff that people didn't know. That didn't stop a handful of fairly rowdy folks from calling out for songs that not only hadn't been written by Crosby, but had never even been performed by him. Some of those folks were probably stoned enough during the 60's to get Buffalo Springfield (with Stills and Young)confused with the Byrds (with Crosby) and the Hollies (with Nash), and all of those confused with CSN and CSNY.

 

My fears seemed justified after the first few songs, as his voice was struggling, and he had a couple of minor coughing spells. He did get stronger as the night went on, and had no vocal issues at all after the set break. By the end, his voice was still damn good, but not 1960's or 70's good.

 

The first set was primarily recent material, including maybe three songs from his album of last year, which he berated people for not buying. (He has always had a unique ability to insult people in a sometimes charming, sometimes infuriating way.)

 

He broke with using his own material for one song, and one song only: Joni Mitchell's "For Free". He did a heartfelt shoutout to Joni, and it was clear he still has strong feelings for her after all these years, and is deeply concerned about the state of her current health, which he implied was not very encouraging.

 

Unless you see Crosby solo, you may not realize that he does all his own songs in various open tunings. In fact, I didn't detect a single song done in standard tuning. Not sure if he got that approach from Joni or not, but it was pretty apparent to me as a guitarist.

 

Crosby changes guitars for every single song. His tech comes out and takes the last guitar, and hands him the next. As far as I could tell, he played four guitars, but I was far enough away that I couldn't positively identify every guitar, so it's possible there were more, but I don't think so.

 

Two were Martin dreads, with at least one of these appearing to be a D-45. Another was an OM or OOO-sized Martin, which also sounded like a rosewood guitar. The fourth guitar was a stunner, and he talked quite a bit about it. It was a Roy Mcalister, in a variation of the 1930's Martin OM planform--Mcalister calls it the Concert model. Crosby, Jackson Brown, and Graham Nash all perform or record with that model.

 

I've never heard a voice like that in a medium-sized conventional guitar. Granted, it was tuned down and in open tuning, but the bass was as bone-chillingly resonant as a harp guitar, and the trebles just sparkled. He was also using a modest amount of EQ on all the guitars, which you pretty much need to do in a fairly large room (1200 seat) like the Sunrise Theatre.

 

Unfortunately, the sound system for the vocals left a bit to be desired, to the point where it was a distraction at times. My wife told me she struggled with a lot of the lyrics, as did I, even though I know virtually all his old material by heart, and remember it to this day.

 

The second set contained more older material, including Guinnevere, Deja Vu, Triad, and a couple of others.

 

By the end of the evening, I was very grateful we had gone to see him. His voice may only be at about 85-90% these days, but given the level he started from in the 60's, it's still a lovely voice.

 

I went, as much as anything, because the musicians of my youth are getting old, and starting to die off. I would say don't expect any of them (except maybe Mick) to be what they were 40-50 years ago, but just appreciate them for what they still are. At least they're out there putting themselves on the line in front of an audience. And they still sometimes rise to the occasion.

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Good choice for a musical ride - and hep for the report.

 

Yeah, he might be in his mid-70's, but still seems keen to roll.

A bit disappointing to hear his voice has a coughing cylinder, but this might have been nothing but a warm-up thing, , , or weaker evening.

 

I saw him singing up a whole band with Nash a couple of years ago and I guarantee their voices were superb (and not talking fan-jive here).

Go check recent concerts at the Tube - Almost Cut My Hair is the big test and he usually nails it like a hawk.

 

Wonder if he played In My Dreams from the 1978 album - know he did at one of the gigs only a few nights ago. Most excellent tune.

Yes, the Mart dread is a late-60's D-45 - in fact purchased at Lundbergs, Berkeley - a shop I wrote/asked about some weeks back.

For Free is important to him - as Joni M. He already harmonized through it on the original line-up Byrds reunion album in 1973.

 

Once again ▲ for the review.

 

I'm sitting a few meters from the tickets to the CSN-show here in the late summer. Great, not too big venue - It'll be on fire, , , ,

 

Zomb - you old beatnik - are you comin'. . .

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A nice review, thanks Nick. Almost felt like I was there. Maybe a concert review job for you in the future!

 

 

It is a tough call to see some old giggers, but sometimes it can be a great surprise....wont name names, but I have seen the gamut of incredibly happy to be there performers to the incredibly...grumpy! But look at it from this view - I have practiced/played just about every day and have improved immensely, I think, and to play something from a band I was in from about 1977 would be not only bizarre but inconceivable and I am glad we were fizzled flops! But if you have the big hit, you have to keep playing it til you drop! Personally, I couldnt do it. At least Crosby has many, many, many songs to choose from! But the brutal T is the audience has paid to hear the hits.......

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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Thanks Nick.

I saw him two years ago with Nash in Morristown, NJ. There was a full band, including a son, and they sang this amazing song (written by said son) called Lay Me Down.

Anyhow, great review. I can go see my Giants, but only if they aren't trying to pretend to be something they are not anymore. For example, I can't go see hughey Lewis on tour, although I do remember all their tunes on the radio in the 1980s.

That's why I like shows like Hiatt and Lovett.

It sounds like Crosby wasn't trying to be what he was in his youth. I think that's good, and worthy of the ticket.

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Great review, Nick.

 

Performing get's in your blood, or is in your blood when you're born and it's something you need to do. I don't understand it, but it's a thing. Lord knows some of these old timers surely don't need the money, and they KNOW they are getting far past their peak, yet they carry on.

 

The songs come to you and you feel they MUST be heard, by someone, for some reason. Its weird. I've never been very successful, although I was blessed to gig for many decades all over the U.S.A. and met some great musicians but even after having semi retired the PULL is still there and I'm in some "negotiations" to do some projects. I don't remember deciding that.....

 

Anyhow, GREAT review brother.

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Great review, Nick.

 

Performing get's in your blood, or is in your blood when you're born and it's something you need to do. I don't understand it, but it's a thing. Lord knows some of these old timers surely don't need the money, and they KNOW they are getting far past their peak, yet they carry on.

 

The songs come to you and you feel they MUST be heard, by someone, for some reason. Its weird. I've never been very successful, although I was blessed to gig for many decades all over the U.S.A. and met some great musicians but even after having semi retired the PULL is still there and I'm in some "negotiations" to do some projects. I don't remember deciding that.....

 

Anyhow, GREAT review brother.

 

I'm just a hack. But I understand what you're saying.

How can something that such a pain in the a$s be missed so much when you're not doing it :-)

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j45nick - Thanks for the post. I'm still a Crosby fan myself out of the music, the memories and the performer himself. So I enjoyed the run through. A buddy of mine was there also, but he hasn't reported back yet. The " wheel keeps on turning" for certain! Sounds like his effort was worth your time to you. Glad he is still able to make the grade. I would turn out if he hit a small venue in my area. He doesn't step forward very much anymore. Think I would enjoy being there when he does so. Again, much appreciated.

 

steve

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