Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

A couple bucks to see big name bands

Wick's World


I began this morning as I begin each day listening to “On That Beautiful Day” written by old friend Tom Peterson from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and performed by my relatively new friend, Christine Albert, from Austin, Texas.

Somewhere between this morning and a half-century ago I attended my first rock concert featuring The Fifth Dimension. Their most recognizable hit reached No. 9 on Billboard and took me “Up, Up and Away.” Amazingly, the concert was free. It was included with a student activity pass at the University of Montana in Missoula. Later that school year I saw an evening performance by a then young comedian named Bill Cosby. This was long before he allegedly plied young women with the most devastating recreational drug ever, Quaaludes. Hopefully, like smallpox and the Ebola virus, efforts are continuing to eradicate “Ludes” from the planet. I watched from afar as the mind-bogglingly, dizzying drug demolished cars, fence posts and marriages with equal inscrutability.

Last night I asked my wife, “The Doobie Brothers and Journey are playing at the Xcel Center Tuesday night. Do you want to go?”

“Sure,” she replied.

“What!” I exclaimed. “You weren’t supposed to say that. You never do.”

It obviously shows the length she is willing to go to entertain something other than unpacking boxes and moving furniture in from the garage. The previous $2 concert tickets were now $150 ... each. Just when she was about to finalize the transaction for the 11th row seats, I heard this unsavory statement, “They want a service charge of $45 for each ticket!” The many used cars I had bought for less than the $400 I was about to shell out for music flashed through my mind. If we fail to make the concert tomorrow night, I’ll remember a few others I did attend.

In the Sixties, I saw Paul Revere and the Raiders in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They were dressed in Patriot costumes, replete with those goofy hats, and charged a whopping two bucks for the show. One never paid more than a fiver for Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell or most of the concerts in the mid-sixties. At Sunset Boulevard’s Whiskey a Go Go, you could see the house band for the cost of the cover at the door; the band’s name was The Doors.

My favorite duo performance was at Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit Concert when Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett sang “I Left my Heart in San Francisco.” Bob Dylan and Paul Simon once teamed up for a duet at Duluth’s Bayfront Park. The song was not memorable, but the backdrop of Lake Superior remains etched in my mind. My favorite band (Carlos Santana) unfortunately teamed up with a faded geriatric rock star named Rod Stewart for the worst duo performance this century. Even Santana’s guitar couldn’t save this tragedy.

I missed the Woodstock Rock Festival. I was busy jumping out of airplanes that summer. A few years later, I left my digs in New York City, taking the Woodstock route right on past Max Yasgur’s Farm into Canada, to attend that country’s most famous rock festival, Strawberry Fields. The crowd was estimated at a mere 400,000. If memory serves me right, the three-day festival featured the likes of Grand Funk Railroad, Iron Butterfly, Three Dog Night and the concert’s finale, Jose Feliciano singing “Light my Fire.”

I spent a lot of the Seventies in Austin, Texas, where the house band at the Armadillo World Headquarters featured none other than Mr. Bojangles himself — Jerry Jeff Walker. In three weeks, we are scheduled for our annual after-concert cocktails with him right here in Eagan. His band leader is one of my old friends, Chris Gage, from South Dakota. It was just a week ago we saw Chris and his Red Willow Band perform yet another reunion concert. We’re all 50 years older now but the fan base and the songs still remain. Once again, Red Willow’s encore consisted of Steve Young’s “A Long Way to Hollywood” and ended with the sing-a-long goodbye to a “Very Old Friend.”


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