Great Monterey Music Moments of the Recent Past (in no particular order)
May 22, 2011
Dwight Yoakam played the 2010 Salinas Rodeo. Here's a little taste of what the man himself had to say as he battled through Los Angeles rush hour a week before coming to Salinas.
When did you first realize you had made it as a musician? I guess when I realized I didn't have to work a day job to pay the rent. In the fall of 85 with our new EP, we started having interest from the labels.
What influenced your musical style when you came to California? I was a straight rock and roll and new wave listener, in terms of that side of my musical taste. I was more drawn to The Clash melodically, in fact I covered The Clash several years later; we did "Train in Vain." That was a more accessible place for me. Billy Zoom (founding member of X) had a neo-rockabilly band at the time and would play the Whiskey a Go Go. When I got L.A., it was that kind of scene. Country music was a very edgy rock and roll energy, and that's probably what I had most in common by the time I put a band together and started in 1981 playing the rock club circuit. In 79 and 80, I started playing out in the San Fernando Valley "hillbilly" circuit; it was biker land and crystal meth ruled honky tonks. The Palomino Club was still happening and I remember seeing Jerry Lee Lewis at close range in 1979. It was a pretty phenomenal show at the Palomino; the front row had Neil Diamond and Tanya Tucker and we were right down front at a table near all these folks. It was a sight to behold. I also saw George Thorogood in 1978. His debut album had him covering Hank Williams' "Movin' On Over." He had his own east coast raucous, rockabilly take on Hank Williams. I landed in a curious moment within all musical communities. I think the last time things built to that kind of fervor in L.A. was the three-year period from 1981-84. It was a glorious moment.
What do you have planned for your show in Salinas? We're just going to have fun. I'm going to play music that I've made in the past 25 years and I look forward to seeing everyone out there at the Rodeo. I love playing fairs; it's where I saw a lot of my first shows as a kid. I remember seeing Johnny Cash at a state fair.
Canned Heat muscled through classics like "Going Up the Country" and "On the Road Again" at the 2007 Blues Festival at the Monterey Fairgrounds.
The following year, at the 2008 Blues Festival, Taj Mahal brought his own brand of heat to the main arena stage at the Fairgrounds.
The underattended 2007 Summer of Love Festival at the Monterey Fairgrounds featured everyone from the two remaining members of the Doors (guitarist Robbie Krieger and organist Ray Manzarek) to Jefferson Airplane (minus Grace Slick) and Big Brother and the Holding Company to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Fest. All the old hippies, and some newbies, dusted of their bongs and came out of hiding for a nostalgic weekend of peace and love.
Fellow Delaware-native and enduring bluesman, George Thorogood, has hit the Salinas Fox Theater twice over the past few years with his Destroyers. When I spoke with the middle-aged crooner, he said, after 40 years, he was just beginning to enjoy the rock and roll life on the road...now that he had people to carry all the equipment. Bad to the bone.
Black Francis, a.k.a Frank Black, also made a couple friends in Big Sur. The Pixies' frontman returned to the redwoods several months later for an encore show. The towering cue-headed musician, was excited to showoff the new cowboy threads that he picked up on the road somewhere just outside Bakersfield.
Last fall, Arcade Fire played to 300 lucky people at the Henry Miller Library. It was probably the biggest coup of Monterey County since the Monterey Pop Festival, though Dylan's show at the Fairgrounds last year came in close second. The Canadian outfit tore through many of the new tunes from its most recent release, Suburbs, along with several older fan faves. Just as the rain began trickling down from the heavens, frontman Win Butler signaled to his bandmembers that it was time for the finale, "Wake Up." Pure magic. After the show, Butler said that playing in Big Sur reminded him of playing in the early days to small crowds. He kind of missed the intimate venues. The following day, the band headed to Los Angeles for two sold out shows at the Shrine Auditorium, a 6,000-plus seat venue.