Wonderful summer concerts give rhythm to our lives

By Maria Saporta

It’s been a wonderful summer of music.

And even though the heat of the summer is still with us, I know we’re quickly witnessing the end of our summer music season.

One of my guilty pleasures is going to hear live music — indoors or preferably outdoors. I bought tickets to several shows — and sadly the last concert on my dance card was the Jack Johnson show at the Aaron’s Ampitheatre (or as us natives would say — Lakewood).

It used to be that we would kick off the summer music season with the fabulous Music Midtown in May. I would always buy a three-day pass for me and my children so we could enjoy a mosaic of music — on a half dozen stages — with bands and artists to satisfy almost any aficionado.

It was at Music Midtown where I first saw Jack Johnson. I had heard a few of his songs on the radio, and I wanted to hear more. He was still an unknown when he played at Music Midtown, which is one reason I loved the three-day extravaganza. I was able to hear up-and-coming bands as well as some of my all-time favorite artists.

But back to 2010 — another year that Atlanta is still without a multi-day music festival.

It was primarily a summer of nostalgia for me. It began with the Gipsy Kings at Chastain Park, always a delight to hear the flamenco sounds drift among the trees.

Next was Jethro Tull. All I can say is that Ian Anderson can play the flute better than any one I’ve ever heard. The older I get, the more comforting it is to hear musicians who are my age or older still playing at the top of their genre.

The same was true for Sting, who played with about 45 members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Sting, who was accompanied on vocals by Jo Lawry, found a perfect balance of orchestral sound without drowning out his singing or his songs.

It was an extra special night of music, especially when he closed off the encore with his traditional ending song: “Fragile.” But this time, Sting said that the oil spill in the Gulf showed how fragile we all are. (See lyrics below — and if you haven’t ever heard this song, you’ve missed one of Sting’s best).

My last concert at Chastain this summer was Santana. Again, he did not disappoint. And again, I was impressed by the musicians who were able to survive every temptation and manage to gracefully grow old without losing any of their talent.

I must admit, that Crosby, Stills & Nash have seen better days. The harmony on a couple of their songs was off-key. (Then again, Stills was never known for having a great voice). But Stills can still play a mean guitar. That hit home when my son, David, asked me after an amazing riff: “Who is that guitar player?”

After the CS&Y opening act, Tom Petty reaffirmed my faith in the power of becoming older while not losing the ability to entertain an arena-full of 18,000-plus fans.

Philips continues to be one of my favorite places to see a major indoor show (the difference between seeing U2 at Philips and at the Georgia Dome was dramatic).

So my summer of concerts (at least for those that I had bought tickets in advance) has come to close. It was fitting that it ended with a dramatic rainstorm at the Jack Johnson show. But we were fortunate to have heard an hour-and-a-half of his poetic song-writing and folksy guitar playing before getting drenched.

Those are the risks we take when we go to outdoor concerts — and rain or shine, the shows are almost always worth the price in musical moments and memories.

Here are the lyrics to Sting’s “Fragile”:

If the blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the color of the evening sun
Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing every could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star
Like tears from a star
On and On the rain will say
How fragile we are.
How fragile we are.

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star
Like tears from a star
On and On the rain will say
How fragile we are.
How fragile we are.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

5 replies
    • Maria Saporta says:

      Maybe I should have qualified that by saying he’s a better flute player than any other rock-n-roller that I’ve heard. But come to think of it, I’m not sure how many rock-n-roll flute players I’ve heard.Report

      Reply
  1. BPJ says:

    Nice column. Something missing from the Atlanta summer music scene is free concerts in parks by the Atlanta Symphony. For years, a summer highlight was the 2 or more concerts in Piedmont Park. It was a great way to introduce children to the orchestra.
    Now the summer focus of the ASO seems to be the new Verizon Ampitheatre, and Chastain. I’m not criticizing those venues, but a nonprofit organization, with tax-deductible contributions, and some (minimal) government support, ought to be able to present one or two concerts a summer in Atlanta’s premiere park.Report

    Reply
  2. Maria Saporta says:

    You are absolutely right. Those were fabulous concerts — and accessible to everyone. The concerts for the dogs were especially fun. Does anybody know why those concerts were discontinued?Report

    Reply

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