Meet Mike.

About this post: Hello everyone. I wanted to introduce you to the #1 fan of this blog and one of the most amazing men you’ll ever meet: my father, Mike. He and I have shared a love of music for years, so I wanted to make a special post with the spotlight on him. I emailed him a few music-related interview questions, and here’s what he had to say. Enjoy!

1. What song(s) or artist(s) would you say defined your younger years and why?
I was in high school 1978-1981. There were a lot of great rock bands (Stones, Who, Led Zeppelein, Van Halen, etc.) which I liked a lot. However, my favorite, at least until my senior year ,was REO Speedwagon, a Midwest (Illinois) band that my buddies and I loved. I listened to REO Speedwagon’s 1978 record, “You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish,” relentlessly. I listed while I studied (bad idea) but listened to it so often that it was more like background noise.
2. What was the first concert you went to?
Charlie Daniels Band. December 7, 1978 in Lawrence, Kansas. I was 15 but the concert was at Hoch Auditorium, the main concert hall at the University of Kansas. Since we lived very near the KU campus, Hoch was only a 5-10 minute walk. I was not crazy about CDB but had a farmer/redneck buddy in high school who wanted to go. The show was pretty good. Charlie Daniels is a fun guy who does energetic country (some would even say country-rock). He plays a mean fiddle, which is his trademark. He still plays, at age 76.
3. Best concert(s) you went to?
Very tough question, kind of like: what is your favorite beer? Here are a couple that come to mind, although many would be in a near-tie:
#1 – The Who – April 1980 in Kansas City, Missouri. This was the Who Are You Tour. On the previous tour, 11 fans were trampled to death at the Who’s Cincinnati concert.
#2 – Preservation Hall Jazz Band on May 3, 2012 at Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Louisiana – famous 15 or so piece jazz band with some of the finest (and mostly old) jazz musicians in the world, in a 75 person venue.
#3 – Black Keys (and Florence and the Machine and Cage the Elephant) – July 7, 2011. Part of Summerfest at Marcum Ampitheater. Went with Charlie and his friend. Beautiful evening in an outdoor ampitheater. Had good seats. Was not really a big BK fan but was blown away by them. Great “warmup” bands, too.
#4 – The Police and UB40 (underrated but great reggae band) in Austin, Texas in 1988. This was an outdoor show and we sat in the back of a pickup on a great day. The Police was and is one of my very favorites.
4. Current favorite tune(s)?
5. When did music start to play a significant role in your life?
High school. I do not sing or play music beyond junior high but have always appreciated and enjoyed it. I had a “close and play” stereo in high school, in which you stack an album or two (or three or four) on a turntable, which was covered by a plastic dome-like lid. You would close the lid, the needle would drop and it would play the album(s) stacked on it. During my senior year of high school, every night right before laying down in bed, I would put on Side Four of Hot Rocks by the Rolling Stones. Hot Rocks was a compilation of Stones music from 1964-1971. I would put on the headphones and crawl into bed. I would listen to the music (loud) and go to sleep. I would always be asleep prior to the end of Gimme Shelter, which was the fifth of the five songs on side four. The first four are Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Street Fighting Man, Sympathy for the Devil and Honky Tonk Women. In college, I listened to music less and saw fewer shows; just was not part of the scene. In law school, I listened to music a lot. CDs became readily available in the mid-80s and I was in law school in late 80s. I had a huge collection of CDs, proudly displayed on a big wood rack. When I lived in Chicago, we liked to see live music, including going to blues clubs fairly often.
For me, and probably many, music means a lot in different ways, at different times, for different reaons – as entertainment, an escape, inspiration, etc.
6. What are some songs or artists that hold special memories in your life?
Other than the one mentioned above, here are a few random ones:
During law school (full of ups, downs and stress), I got a lot out of Peter Gabriel’s “So,” which came out in 1986, especially the song “In Your Eyes,” which I dedicated to a certain Wisconsin friend. Terrific album; still sounds great.
I found “Below The Hurricane” by Blitzen Trapper comforting when Charlie was sick. I am not sure why.
I have always considered Paul Simon’s Graceland to be beautiful and meaninful. I love the African singer (Ladysmith Black Mambazo) – an album I have loved constantly for over 25 years (came out in 1986).
7. Favorite Christmas song?
Little Drummer Boy. I like its simplicity, the steady percussion and its beautiful but understated message: the poor boy who feels he has no gift bor the king but finds he does have a gift by playing his drum. Sad in the beginning, the song becomes triumphant by the end.

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