October 27 – November 30
After our cycling adventures and that great weekend in New Orleans, we were home to stay for a couple of months until we’d head west for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Beyond cycling a bunch with our group/club, Charlotte Area Cycling, good fortune smiled on us in offering four separate concerts with favored artists.
First up was Dave Mason on October 27th. We’d seen him at this venue a year or so ago and while enjoyable, he played up his days with the group Traffic more than he needed to, particularly since he wasn’t with them for very long. More relevant is his entire body of work which resulted in any number of hits and memorable songs during the 1970’s.
He gave us a really good show in one of our favorite venues, the McGlohon Theater, formerly 1st Baptist Church and now a 720-seat venue featuring back-lit stained-glass windows from its days as a house of worship.
We sat next to our friends Jan and Jim (he another UNC-Charlotte retiree who ran the Student Union maintenance department for me) and came away from the evening having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Prior to the concert we dropped in at Rock Bottom Brewing for a pre-event beer, a regular stop for us as it is just across the street from the venue, allowing us to get parked and relax before heading over to the show. We’ll often get food there as it has imaginative pub grub with particularly good fish and chips. But not so this night as we’d eaten beforehand.
Our next concert night out took us to Greenville, South Carolina to see Judy Collins and Stephen Stills at the Peace Center. We’d planned to take our bikes with us to ride late morning ride along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a twenty-mile rails to trail conversion that runs up to Travelers Rest. We rode it some years ago and enjoyed the experience, as it features a groomed path that tilts slightly upward to the end point, allowing for a nice easy spin back to the start.
Unfortunately, it rained that day, so we abandoned that idea and instead just drove straight to town. We thought about touring the BMW plant in Spartanburg, (their X-model SUVs for American consumption are built here) but tours were sold out for months so that eliminated that option as well. Originally, we’d hoped to spend the night somewhere downtown within walking distance of the venue, but astronomical prices killed that idea quickly.
So, we opted for the Best Western Greenville Airport Inn, roughly a fifteen minute drive out of downtown and our venue. We checked in, had a quick drink in the room and then drove into town, finding parking easily and began walking up the main street of their quaint and charming downtown towards Smoke on the Water, the restaurant we hoped to eat at, a recommendation from Bonnie.
It being Friday though by the time we arrived it looked like it would be a long wait and so we simply went next door to the Mellow Mushroom, a pizza joint we’ve long been wanting to try. It was a good, basic experience, neither other worldly or awful. Sometimes eating out is just that, a pleasant experience that fills you up. From there we walked to the Peace Center for the concert.
We entered and made our way to the bar to get our usual concert beverage, a double Crown Royal on the rocks. This was when we were confronted with the uncivilized requirement that no drinks other than water could be brought into the seating area. WTF!! The forces of evil have invaded Greenville. We ordered a drink and slammed it before entering to find our seats, located in the very last row of the venue. And thus, would we endure a couple of hours of a somewhat less than enjoyable experience.
First off, a woman in front of us had just been left the farm for the first time in twenty years and this was her first concert after all of that time. Between yelling out song requests, clapping at inappropriate times and generally making a living bloody nuisance of herself, it reinforced how crappy our seats were.
Next, I am Stephen Stills fan number one. I’ve followed this guy from his time in Buffalo Springfield in the late sixties. He’s my guy. But this was not his best effort. He has suffered some hearing loss and thus he tends to sing off key. This is not good. Coupled with the fact that the first few numbers were played a beat too slow, almost dirge like, I found myself thinking that I might not be able to endure a full concert without more to drink. And this was further exacerbated by each performer telling long rambling reminiscences about the songs or their shared experiences.
I made my way back down to the lobby to load up on drinks and when asked if I could be helped by an usher, I said I was looking for the bar only to be told that since there was no intermission, all of the bars were closed. Double WTF!! So back to my seat I went resigned to my fate to. I will say that Judy Collins voice has not diminished with age and her selections were redemptive. And then the last 30 minutes came around and Stills and the backing band lit it up. Two long bluesy songs showcasing his still impressive guitar playing skills. It redeemed the entire first ninety minutes for me and made my night..
Quite sober, we walked back to the car and drove to the Best Western. We’d head back to Charlotte late in the morning in order to attend a surprise birthday party at Foxcroft Wines. Not a bad way to put a proper stamp on the first of our concert adventures.
Charlotte Area Cyclists: https://www.meetup.com/Charlotte-Area-Cycling/
Dave Mason: https://www.davemasonmusic.com/home/
McGlohon Theater: https://www.blumenthalarts.org/visiting/spirit-square/mcglohon-theater
Rock Bottom Brewing: https://rockbottom.com/locations/charlotte/
Peace Center: https://www.peacecenter.org/
Swamp Rabbit Trail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swamp_Rabbit_Trail
BMW Spartanburg: https://www.bmwusfactory.com/
Best Western Greenville Airport: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotel-rooms.41088.html?iata=00171880&ssob=BLBWI0004G&cid=BLBWI0004G:google:gmb:41088
Foxcroft Wine: http://foxcroftwine.com/