By Eric Plaut

Band: “A group of persons, animals or things; esp.: a group of musicians organized for ensemble playing” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary 95).

Peter Noone and me following the Herman's Hermits show

This concept is how one would define a musical band.  However, when you watch your favorite rock group put out a record or accept an award, there is usually a list of people they thank. Just like Rome, music groups weren’t built in a day.  Yet one person can’t do it all or take all the credit.  Someone has to manage the band and, once they are able to afford it, have a roadie or two get the instruments ready.  It is especially nice when you have a person close by to re-string your guitar or bass or to put the drumhead on the skins!  That’s why it’s called a GROUP effort!
Then there are the fans.  They tend to be the ones who can either make or break a band.  The fans, or at least the loyal ones, are there for the musicians.  No matter what the weather—they will be there come rain or shine. 
If it’s a popular band, you can bet that the fans will come out in droves to see them perform.  An actual performance makes the music even better when one can see the group play the songs live.  Music videos don’t fall under this category though, because it’s how the director perceives the music—not anyone else.  Each person has his or her own different view of how a song should be envisioned—see YouTube. 
Now let’s get back to the fans.
Fans purchase the albums, T-shirts and merchandise whether online, in a shop or at the concert itself.  They also buy the tickets and parking passes in order to attend these venues.  You can’t have one without the other.  In addition, these shows are a great excuse to hang out with your friends and family!
Some fans will bring CD’s and vinyl albums to be autographed by the rock bands they have come to see.  They may look forward to a possible photo opportunity with their members as well.  Fans may even request musicians to play some of their popular tunes beforehand if the chance arises.  It’s almost magical to hear a band perform a favorite song of yours live.

With Billy Sullivan, guitarist from Herman's Hermits

However, musical instruments—such as electric guitars and basses—rarely, if ever, are handed out to fans.  A venue would more than likely receive a signed guitar or bass where the musicians had performed.  But I’ve seen autographed instruments at the Hard Rock Café as well.  The latter chain—as well as concert halls—has them hanging out of reach of their fans.  It may be the closest one sees these musical instruments short of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
During a show, some fans may hold lighters high up in the air depending on the song.  They may also dance or sing along to the lyrics of the song the band is currently playing.  On occasion, musicians have handed out to a few audience members a set-list from the show or even a complementary CD of theirs.  It is even better when you’re able to meet the performers afterwards so they can autograph these items.  I also like hearing about the band’s adventures.  Whether they are on the road or have gone to some local place, it’s nice to hear these stories.
Last year I caught the Friday night show of Herman’s Hermits over at the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee.  Their original frontman Peter Noone was at the mike, singing their classic hits and the occasional cover songs like the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer”.  The audience swayed to “Silhouettes” as well as swooned to “My Sentimental Friend”.  Peter is quite the showman, telling us tales about performing with Herman’s Hermits and their local travels.  Following their Friday show, he signed CD’s (which he also passed out during the concert) and agreed to photo ops with his fans.  I got some autographs and a couple of my own photo ops—as you can see!
Herbie Hancock following a 2009 performance at Ravinia Park
I can attest to standing out under a pavilion in the middle of a downpour just to listen to a band play.  It was back in the summer of 1997.  The pavilion’s seats were all filled up.  Daryl Hall and John Oates made their debut at Ravinia Park in Highland Park, Illinois.

Despite Hall and Oates’s popularity, the grounds area surrounding the pavilion barely had any takers.  I bought a grounds ticket for ten dollars.  Due to heavy rains, a bunch of us crammed under the roof at the pavilion to watch Daryl and John play.  However, we ended up dancing to their music out in the rain, getting thoroughly soaked and having the best time!  Listening to their hits like “Out of Touch”, “Maneater” and “Say It Isn’t So”, I felt like I had just won the music lottery back then.
Another time I met Herbie Hancock following his 2009 performance at Ravinia.  Herbie went to high school with my dad.  Along with several of their classmates who stood in line behind me, it was truly special to hear them reminisce about the old days.  Theyalso shared memories about my dad with me.  I’ve enclosed a photo of Herbie and me with this article!
I had my high-school graduation many moons ago at Ravinia Park as well.  My classmates and I like so many before and after us, walked across the pavilion’s stage to shake the principal’s hand and receive our diplomas.  On that same stage, Ravinia hosted countless musical performances, classic symphonies and plays.  It was a real treat for me to walk across the stage where acts from George Gershwin to Janis Joplin to Herbie Hancock performed!
During the 2010 Memorial Day weekend, I caught the Manzarek-Krieger show in Milwaukee.  Both Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger performed with the Doors.  Ray was on keyboards while Robby strummed his six-string guitar.  Though Ray passed away from cancer in 2013, Robby still tours on occasion with his band, Jam Kitchen.  I saw their 2015 show at Milwaukee’s Potawatomi Casino.  Dressed in black and looking like Jim Morrison, Robby’s son Waylon sang lead vocals of numerous Doors’ hits.  Nate Wilmarth succeeded Ray on keyboards while Phil Chen played bass guitar for over a decade with Robby.  Following their 2015 performance, I got a photo op with Phil, and he and Nate signed one of my CD’s for me.
With Phil Chen, bass guitarist from Robby Krieger's Jam Kitchen
Finally, I managed to catch the Beach Boys in concert twice.  They performed in Chicago in July of 2017.  I also caught another show last August where they played their songs alongside concert music in Franklin, Wisconsin.  Mike Love was at vocals during both shows.  The Beach Boys played hits like “409”, “Little Deuce Couple”, “Surfer Girl” and a tribute song to the Beatles’ George Harrison called “Pisces Brothers”.  (Both Mike and George were born under the zodiac sign of Pisces.)
Like at several concerts before, the audience got up, sang and danced along to the Beach Boys’ tunes.  In Chicago, though I don’t remember which song they played then, the audience had formed a conga line so long.  It could have stretched out all the way to Lake Michigan for all I know!  The crazy things that go on with music and these concerts!
Yet there is a connection to the music we like.  The Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, according to the October 1997 issue of National Geographic, referred to it as a “lullaby in colors”.  However, many people don’t play guitar, drums or any type of instrument.  Others can’t carry a tune—let alone sing or write songs.  I’m the only one in my family who can’t play the piano.  The lone way for me to improve is to wear boxing gloves!

Nevertheless, I always look forward to going to the next performance, because in a way I’m with the band!
Music tends to bring people together.  As with nature, the world needs music through all the good and bad times.  Music is something that transcends centuries and cultures.  Some may not carry a tune or play an instrument, but it is one of the few things that can draw a person into its aura.
It was fun to reminisce about some of the concerts I attended over the years.  I did enjoy meeting the performers I mentioned in the above article.  It’s always nice to meet someone you admire as well as shake their hand and get a photo opportunity.  I can’t wait to see the next show.
Photos shown within this article are copyrighted and owned by me (Eric Plaut).  Additional information is found on the Wikipedia page while all mistakes belong to me.


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