My first concert ever was Seals and Croft in the summer of '74. A bunch of us snuck out of music camp in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts and hitch hiked over to Tanglewood and then weaseled our way onto the lawn. At least that's how I remember it. Funny, I hadn't thought about that in years but heard Seals and Croft in the grocery store tonight (of all places) and it brought me right back there. Tweeting about hearing We May Never Pass This Way Again, I connected with a friend on Twitter and related the story about sneaking out of camp. We had a laugh over it.
The next concert I remember (non-classical music) was Bob Dylan in Cincinnati, maybe 1979. I think that's where it was. Huge arena. Mostly what I remember about that one is the haze of hemp that permeated that huge arena. Since I'm not a partaker, I wasn't enjoying the atmosphere (so to speak) but I do remember thinking he was a genius.
That might have been it for me and live music had it not been for Dancing With the Stars. That's right, Dancing With the Stars. I don't watch Dancing. Not my thing at all. But everyone at work watches so I tuned in once last spring, March 2012. There was this singer, a pretty bad dancer, but so charming, humble and generous. His name was Gavin DeGraw. Who? Wasn't listening to radio, didn't watch One Tree Hill, hadn't checked a concert venue schedule in years, or I may have heard of him. So I did what any other curious person might do. I googled. Then I listened. Then I bought the music--every bit I could find, in duplicate (car and house copies). After that came the tickets.
My first time seeing Gavin DeGraw in person was in Big Flats, NY. Four-ish hours away, I drove up on Sunday, sat in the rain for the show and drove home the next morning. That night I travelled to Rye, NY to see him for the second time, again in the rain. Rested up for a day then drove to Boston to drag my daughter to see him there. Boston again, in September, Utica in October, Long Island in November, then back-to-back days in December in Worcester, MA and Manhattan. Hooked? You bet.
First and foremost, it's the music. Soulful, sincere, original, very musical music. Every song seems special to me. Every song speaks to some part of me--past or present and even future. It was listening to Gavin that gave me strength to begin to hope again that there could be something more to come in my life. Maybe something to fill the empty spot.
Then came the summer evenings of listening to YouTube concerts and interviews. Funny, funny interviews. He has an endless number of stories about himself, life on the road, funny things that have happened to him along the way. My favorite interviews are the more serious ones where he talks about music--his music or music in general. I admire that in a business that is rather relentless, he's managed to stay true to himself. I imagine there's been a price to pay for that. For not always caving in to someone's else's notions of what his art should be, for having his own opinions, for his extreme generosity in regards to other musicians. I was captivated.
I'd joined Twitter shortly before the concert adventures started. I joined because it's one of the new ways the Girl Scout movement is using to relay information. But I quickly branched out from @GirlScouts and followed @GavinDeGraw. That may have been the best decision I've ever made. Gavin tweets a fair amount. I learned a lot about him through the short bursts of text known as tweets. Then I started noticing other people who follow him. I followed them too. Some of them followed me. Before I knew it, I had dozens of new friends, all of whom were as deeply hooked on the man and his music as I was. I began to meet them at the shows. Some have become friends on other social media like Facebook. I'm getting to know them and about their lives and families and they are very special people in my life.
So I give Gavin DeGraw the credit for lifting me out of the fog I'd been living in for nearly 20 years. He accompanied me on my workouts and has helped me lose nearly 100 pounds so far. He brought health, fun, anticipation and beautiful new friendships my way. These are not insignificant things. He pointed me in the direction of other musicians and so did the friends I've made because of him. So in addition to the three Gavin concerts I've lined up, I'm also seeing Andy Grammer, Chris Wallace, Tyler Hilton and the Jamie McLean Band this spring.
My life is filled with music these days . . . actual music and another sort of music . . . it's the music of happiness, of looking forward, of finally setting down that load of regrets . . . it's my music.
PS There is dancing too.