Queen at Winterland

My first concert experience was Queen at Winterland in San Francisco when I was in the 7th grade, a student at Terman Middle School in Palo Alto. I went with Andrew Zenoff, who hipped me to the group. Andrew later founded MyBreastFriend and DayOne although like myself he is a childless bachelor.

I remember we also snuck into the Clint Eastwood movie “The Gauntlet” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show” movie. I never would have imagined that 17 years later I would become a concert promoter, now with about 500 concerts of my own, as promoter or manager under my belt, a riff that would sustain and intrigue me for 17 more years so far. I also credit Mia Levin Simmons for inducing this labor of mostly love. Mia left Gunn High in 1981 to join Frightwig and then in 1991 or so she and her daughter Lalique literally ran into me — she was chasing her daughter — at BrainWash San Francisco. In October, 1994 I produced a Mudwimin show (Mia, Lisa Fay Beatty, Marie Riddle pka Bambi Nonymous and Sheri “Shug” Robinson) at Cubberley Center of Palo Alto, the first of about 150 shows I brought into the former high school campus 1994-2001. (Also, for instance, Penelope Houston, Dar Williams, The Donnas, Kristin Hersh, Rebecca Riots, Imogen Heap, Cheryl Wheeler, Stone Fox, Geraldine Fibbers, Beth Custer, Pee Chees, Rachel Z, Luciana Souza, Patricia Barber, Wendy Waller and some groups with men in them, like Pansy Division and The Negro Problem).

Zenoff and I also checked out a Day on the Green that I believe featured Foreigner, AC/DC, The Eagles and more.

At Dartmouth I recall driving down to Worcester to catch Elvis Costello. I set previously at Plastic Alto that myself and two friends went to a Grateful Dead show at The Greek in 1982, with Michael McFaul a Stanford freshman who later became a Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Ambassador to Russia. He is the son of a high school music teacher in Montana.

The most memorable or remarkable concert I ever saw might be Green Day playing the Cinder Block holiday party in 1998 or so. Billie Joe walked out on stage, started with the power chords from “Smoke on the Water” which he finished with an unusual riff, and then went into punk covers and some of his own songs. It took a while for me to realize what I was watching. My friend Tim Harris, a civilian but very musical — he went to the U.S. Festival — didn’t realize what that was until our way back to the car. I had shouted, over the din “THIS IS GREEN DAY!!” and he thought I was talking about the song, not the secret performance. The band never said “Hi, we are Green Day. We are playing this party because my wife works here. Please enjoy.” Based on that performance and Sapir Whorf, in my book it is not a “Green Day” concert unless there is an m.c. or someone who labels it as such.

I caught Dartmouth Aires doing a Queen medley on tv and it led me to this. I actually want to see a medley or mashup of Queen and “Dartmouth Undying” maybe through “Radio Gaga” (“dey oh”≥≥≥≥”days”) or “Somebody to Love”.


I also should pick up Queen at Wembly 1986 Freddie Mercury at height of his powers. Sasha Baron Cohen will play him in upcoming biopic.

In a related matter I notice that “The Rum Diary” a Johnny Depp film based on an Hunter S. Thompson story grossed $5 million at box office. I wrote about Thompson on my Dartmouth application. I said it was interesting the way he related to a variety of people from Hell’s Angels to Richard Nixon.

Wikipedia lists the bills for the Day of the Green shows, including the three or four that I caught.

I saw the first Bridge Concert (but none of the subsequent shows) with a clerk from Owl and Monkey. I saw the Amnesty Concert but walked out on Bruce Springsteen. I was there to see Tracy Chapman, and also recall how moving Peter Gabriel was, especially his apartheid suite.

Now I am just too jaded to be very impressed by much. I liked Wordless Abrazo the other night, at CoHo, with the epic World Series Game 6 playing without sound — blowing off the Dylan lecture next door.

The people whose styles and tastes and ears most influenced mine are Andy Dieden (especially “Ludwig Von Drake”), Andy Zenoff, Rob Lederer, David Hawkins, Eric Hanson, Danny Scher, Joe Paganelli, Mark Christman, Hans Wendl, Lee Townsend, Steve Lacy — he recommended Danilo Perez. Jenna Adler offered me a John Mayer show once.

A big gaffe was getting contacted by Dixie Chicks, listening to their cd with my stage manager but telling them it wasn’t worth opening the doors for them. Getting Ozomatli, I wrote somewhere, was due to Dana Beard describing a Chinese idiom I wrote as “Cheeto Molly” and pitched to American Sensei as a new name — they, or leaving members chose Oranger instead. The biggest gaffe that I wish I could have prevented (and thereby presented) was when Ian MacKaye called Cubberley to book his own show but they wouldn’t let him rent the hall. By the time I got word of it, the show was at the Edge.

The best show I wished I had booked or that inspired me is Ian Brennan doing Fugazi and Sleater-Kinney at Dolores Park.

Another big gaffe that I talk about now is Blind Boys of Alabama at Mitchell Park outdoors which was cancelled so that they could take a series of dates with Tom Petty. Danny Scher tried to intercede on our behalf with Chris Goldsmith — he had a flight log on his lap trying to route them seemingly two places at once. I used the money earmarked for that show via the sponsors hear music for Maria Muldaur and a Femi Kuti show (and did my first Henry Butler show around that time because he was suggested as a substitute and Danny liked him). I said recently to people that maybe Blind Boys could finally make good — ten years later, maybe at Martin Luther King Plaza in Palo Alto. I also used to joke that if they played Heritage Park (named for a housing complex i.e. it is an ad for the development) we could change that name as part of the deal to Fountain Park (for Clarence Fountain) — maybe we could do that for Lytton Plaza.

Wah hoo wah for the Dartmouth boys.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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3 Responses to Queen at Winterland

  1. Mark Weiss says:

    this was the 22nd october post

  2. markweiss says:

    like i said i may be the only guy on the planet whose first concert was Queen at Winterland and then graduated ten years later from Dartmouth. This sent me:

  3. Pingback: Barry McGee at Berkeley, Evri Kwong at Smith-Andersen | Plastic Alto with Mark Weiss

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