Peter B. Schmit at the Great American Music Hall 12/13/2009
We got the call. Any interest in using tickets for Sunday night’s Great American Music Hall? Sure! It was a good excuse for a night out. Who’s playing? One of the Eagles. The bass player, Timothy B. Schmit, was doing a show to promote his new CD.
We showed up early. We had dinner tickets and the web site said to be there at 6:30. We stood in line with some excited Eagles fans. They talked about Eagles shows they’d been to. There was some kind of mixup and the doors didn’t open until 7:40. If we’d known what was going on, we’d just have gone somewhere and come back, but no one explained anything. The staff seemed to be avoiding the front door area. Two guys carrying instrument cases showed up, and pounded on the front door until someone finally answered. Great. Now we’ll probably have to wait for a sound check.
We finally entered the venerable building. It’s great to go to this storied club. It’s ornately decorated with Baroque flourishes and Rococo furnishings. This room has a great history. There are friezes in the ceiling and a big chandelier. It was built to be THE place for extravagant night life and entertainment in old San Francisco. Sally Rand of fan dance fame was one of the first owners. You can just tell there where some wild nights here. It’s a temple to San Francisco nightlife of the past. There are stories that staff members have heard and seen a ghost who wanders the club after closing.
Prohibition worked out all right for the Great American Music Hall, and it was popular with servicemen during World War II, but things change. The place did fall on hard times during the Fifties. It was a bordello at one time. It was a restaurant for a while, but that eventually closed and the building was abandoned. The building was condemned by The City, but it was saved by the Rock and Roll club that opened there in 1972.
Tonight there will be tables on the dance floor. They expect a more laid back, older audience. It’s a small, but enthusiastic crowd. The balcony will be closed tonight. It is a Sunday night. It looks like there are a lot of comp tickets for family and friends in attendance.
The opening act is Jim Bruno. He plays acoustic guitar and is accompanied by John Koontz on mandolin and guitar. They’re the guys who were trying to get into the club earlier. It’s a small but vocal crowd that greets Bruno with applause and cheers. They’re definitely fans. The music is crisp and the sound is great.
“Here’s a song of regret,” Bruno says, “We Were Blind.”
“California Rain” “A Matter of Time”
A couple of years ago Bruno read about Ray Davies getting shot in New Orleans. Ray had witnessed a purse snatching and played the good samaritan. He chased the guy and got shot for his trouble. What is this world coming to? Bruno thought when he heard the news. Ray Davies getting shot! So he wrote a song about it: “Ray Took a Slug in the Leg.”
Bruno invites everyone to a songwriting event he performs at. It’s at Biscuits and Blues on Wednesday night.
“We’ll Always Remember Tonight” “I Do It For You”
All the songs are on the new CD (On sale at a table in the back!) except the last one. Bruno is the opening act and only gets about a half hour onstage. He and Koontz give us a great warm up.
We had the dinner package. We had to chase down a waitress to get our order in. The upside with the dinner package is that you get to go in first and get the best seats. A couple of staff guys kept the seats reserved. The food was great, but it was a little awkward eating at the small cocktail tables.
A couple joined us. Mike and Kathy risked the wrath of staff by entering the green “dinner ticket” zone. They had good timing. They were a nice couple and big Eagles fans. Mike wondered about some of the great shows here the past, “Can you imagine seeing the Grateful Dead here?” It is a bit mind boggling. I wondered how they fit everyone onstage.
Its time for the main attraction: Timothy B. Schmit. We can see a good Rock setup: Drums, keyboards and a lot of guitars. He gets a great greeting from the crowd.
He reminds me of Jorma. He has very long hair and wears blue jeans. This guy has to have a lot of touring miles on him, but he still has a youthful look.
“I’m from Sacramento,” Schmit tells us. “This is what we used to call ‘going to the City.’”
“Stir the Wind” “Friday Night” Song titles are an approximation.
Schmit has a wry sense of humor. “I’m the guy who isn’t Don Henley.” He says there will soon be a tour by “That other band I’m in.”
“One More Mile”
Schmit says it’s great to play in at the Great American Music Hall. Schmit admits he’s lucky. “I got to play The Fillmore, Winterland ...” “You should come to Modesto!” A female fan yells from one of the front tables. Comments from the crowd can easily be heard. “I’ve played Modesto!” He starts rattling off Valley towns he’s played in: Lodi, Truckee, Tracy. My wife grew up in the Valley and got a big kick out of this.
“Because of poor management” there are no CDs for sale! Schmit says, “You can buy it from the aether. There’s no stores left anymore!” This gets a laugh from the Baby Boomer crowd. The music business has changed since he started.
Schmit changes guitars every song. He picks up a bass for the first time for an Eagles song: “I Can’t Tell You Why.” It’s his big Eagles song. There’s even a little dry ice smoke with some laser lights shining on it coming from the back of the stage for this one. The keyboard player stands out on this song. He’s playing a synthesizer and makes it sound like a big church organ.
Three black female backup singers come out for the next song. Schmit calls them, “The icing on the cake.” Schmit was a music business veteran before he joined The Eagles. He said that often questions of hipness would be brought up, “As would happen in those days.” He would just say, “What do I know, I’m just a white boy from Sacramento.” They do the song: “I’m Just a White Boy from Sacramento,” a very funny song. The backup singers seem amused and are certainly having a good time.
Schmit talks about being in the band Poco. He does a Poco song: “Keep On Trying.” Schmit mentions Richie Furay and the crowd applauds. He thanks Furay for getting him into Poco. When Furay joined The Eagles, he brought Schmit along.
Schmit was going to sing this next song, written by Richie Furay, when it was recorded: “What Am I Going To Do?” He says that Furay lived the lyrics on the next tour they were on and Schmit deferred to Furay, letting him sing the now autobiographical song on the album.
They rock out on “Parachute.” It features guitarist Hank with a big solo by him. “I Don’t Mind”
Schmit’s wife is in Hawaii. She’ll stay there longer than expected. She does album cover art on Expando. “Have I mentioned the CD yet?” He sings about missing his wife, “Ella Jean.” “I Don’t Like It When You’re Gone.”
The female backup singers come back for the finale. They ham it up and again look like they’re having a blast onstage.
“Something is Wrong” and then, “A Good Day” The last song on Expando.
“I Don’t Want to Feel Anymore”
“Love Will Keep Us Alive”
A great show on a Sunday night! Thanks to Al Cooper for the tickets.