There’s a venue here in San Diego (well, Solana Beach), that has the best concerts. It seats about 600, the acoustics are fabulous for no matter what type of music is being played…and it’s been around since 1974. The amount of bands I’ve seen here is in the triple digits, easy.
Since they get a lot of big names looking to play smaller venues, those tickets sell out quickly. It’s always hit-and-miss with autographs. The outside smoking area is near the tour buses or vans, but there is a fence and a security guard. You feel foolish yelling, but hey…if you’re an autograph collector, that’s what you do.
Actor Hugh Laurie (House) talked to us over the fence, but wouldn’t sign. He just chain smoked cigarettes (Hey…my friend had a free ticket so I went; surprisingly good singer/pianist).
The big story the other day was a surprise, private party with The Rolling Stones. A rich dude in the area supposedly paid almost $3 million to have the band play for a birthday party (As Ferris Bueller would say, “It’s a great band to play your party, if you have the means.”)
The venue had a surprise show from Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga a few months prior. Usually word gets out and fans line up around the building for a glimpse at the stars, knowing they may never get closer to Mick Jagger or Keith Richards.
Since The Doors are my favorite band, I’ve been thrilled about the times I’ve seen their guitarist – Robby Krieger – play there. One time I got backstage and had him sign a guitar for me (he did hold it upside down, but hey…beggars can’t be choosers). I got a ticket driving home that night, which always made me wonder…is the autographed guitar worth more than the $450 ticket. No matter, I’m a collector, not a seller.
Since I had a guitar for Krieger that night, I didn’t want to also throw a bunch of albums or CDs at him. Yet over the years, I’ve gotten all those signed.
Last week Krieger appeared again. It was my first time seeing him since he lost Doors bandmate Ray Manzarek.
Krieger mentioned B.B. King’s recent passing, as well as Manzarek. It did make things a little odd when earlier we heard a clever song called “Grave Dodger,” with lines like “All my friends at 27/They died and went to heaven/But I’m the grave dodger, grave dodger.”
His current band is called “Jam Kitchen” and they did jam. We got to hear a smokin’ hot version of “Roadhouse Blues.” An instrumental version of “You’re Lost Little Girl” (which he did on an earlier solo album). It’s the first time I’ve seen him where he didn’t do “Peace Frog” (he had done a version years ago called “War Toad” that was incredible). We also heard “Five to One,” “Touch Me,” and a few other Doors classics I’m forgetting right now.
The band has a few members from Frank Zappa’s band that have played with lots of big names. They are Arthur Barrow, Larry Klimes, Tom Brechtlein, and the energetic keyboardist – Tommy Mars. He came out after the show and took photos with fans, signed autographs, and told great stories about Zappa.
In years past, Krieger always came out and signed autographs. He didn’t this time. The merchandise booth did sell the Jam Kitchen album autographed by him, for $50. I wasn’t sure why nobody else in the band had signed it, but some fans bought it and had them sign it after the show.
I got lucky. I was with a woman who started chatting up a woman next to her. That lady claimed to be friends with Krieger. We doubted that, until he smiled and waved to her from stage. She talked her way backstage (to a security guard that was rolling his eyes with every word she said). But he did go back and verify she was a friend, and she was invited back there. My friend and I both handed a few CDs for her to get signed. I had two in my pocket. The only two CDs I had left that weren’t signed by any Door. Yet if I’m having somebody take something back for me, I only do one item. No reason to be greedy or make somebody uncomfortable. I told the woman I was with to just give her one item, but she handed them both to her. Not only did they all get signed, but the signatures look so much nicer on her pieces. You see, Krieger apparently had a silver paint pen backstage, and my CD wasn’t dark, so you can only see a small portion of the signature. Oh well. There were three guys near the side of the stage, with bags of albums. They got nothing. I do give them credit, though. Usually the autograph hounds just stand around outside being a pain to everyone. These collectors at least paid the $27 cover to get in to the show. And really…we’re fans of these people. We want them to sign are stuff, the least we can do is pay the small cover so they make money (and we see a great show to boot).
Now, for those that are wishing I had more gossip on the Rolling Stones show, I don’t. I know a few people that went, but didn’t bug them for details. One of them showed me a picture of the set list (although I didn’t even follow up by asking “Was that last song ‘needed’?”). Mick and the boys did wave to the fans that surrounded the venue, but they weren’t seen signing autographs. Although I have to think the guy that ponied up $2.7 million got something signed. He’s also the guy that, about 7 years ago, paid $1 million to have Paul McCartney play a private birthday party for his wife.
This party was for a different wife.
Geez…being rich must be a gas, gas, gas!