My Concert Venue Bucket List

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: live music is the best. There are few things I enjoy more than hearing music being made right in front of me, with no second takes and no safety net.

I urned 51 a few days ago. Perhaps as a result, I found myself thinking about bucket lists. You know, things people want to do before they die, or “kick the bucket,” as it were. I never really got into them, because they stuck me as a bit morbid. But the truth is, I’m not getting any younger. And there are more than a few things I’d like to do before I shuffle off the mortal coil.

I’ve never been one for bungee jumping, sky diving, or mountain climbing. I’m sure there are a few golf courses I’d like to play, but nothing else came to mind. And then I started thinking about live music. That’s when it hit me: there are more than a few places I’d love to catch a show.

St. Louis has its share of decent concert venues. I’ve been to pretty much all of them. But outside of Chuck Berry’s Hail, Hail Rock n Roll, I can’t think of any concert videos recorded here. I’d like to go where the gigs in my collection were recorded.

I know I’ve been to at least two: The Blue Note and Nippon Budokan, both in Tokyo. I caught shows by Stanley Jordan and Sting, respectively, in those venues. That was in the early ’90s. After taking a little time to think on it, a list of legendary venues sprung into my head.

And just like that, I had my Concert Venue Bucket List. It would be nice to catch a set in more than a few of these rooms. Some will be easier than others.

Photo by Tom Morris

At the top of my list is Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. It’s small (which I prefer), but prestigious. More than a few of my favorites, like Jeff Beck and John McLaughlin, have recorded incredible sets there. As long as I’m in the neighborhood, I should catch a set at both the Hammersmith Apollo and the Royal Albert Hall.

Photo by Celine

I’d love to catch a show at the Bataclan Theater in Paris, which has become famous for all the wrong reasons. When I think of the Bataclan, I don’t think of terrorists. I think of the theater where Supertramp played to exactly EIGHT people in the ’70s, before returning triumphantly to a sold out crowd in a larger room a few years later. There’s more than a little history associated with the Bataclan. I’d love to be a part of it.

Photo by Bert L. 

Closer to home, it would be great to catch a show at Yoshi’s in Oakland, California. I had also dreamed of hitting the club in San Francisco, but that venue has closed. Nonetheless, some great jazz bands have come through Oakland. I hope to be in the front row, watching one of them.

Photo by Vivek Nadagouda

They’re bigger rooms than I prefer, but I wouldn’t turn down a chance to see a show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles or the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver. Miles Davis played his last show at the Hollywood Bowl, which is why it sticks out in my mind. I’ve seen more than a few shows recorded at Red Rocks on television by bands like U2, Dave Matthews and Widespread Panic. What an amazing looking venue it is! It strikes me as one of those places I simply MUST see.

Photo by Rudy Riet

I simply must see a great jazz performance at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C. One of my favorite Wynton Marsalis albums was recorded there. Just from listening to that show, I could tell it was being played in my kind of room. My east coast swing would also include the Ram’s Head in Annapolis, Toad’s in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Iridium in New York City.

Photo by Francis Lee

Speaking of legendary jazz venues, I’d better head down to New Orleans and catch a show at Preservation Hall. Their jazz band is second to none, and they play in a room not much larger than a broom closet. This seems like one of the ultimate musical experiences. My southern swing should also include catching a taping of Austin City Limits in Texas. That strikes me as an experience well with having.

I’m sure there are other venues and other gigs. But these are the ones that come to mind first. My love of travel will certainly come in handy.

Guess I’d better update my passport.

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