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The Concert Stage Blog

Welcome to the Concert Stage News page. Please send me an email at with any reviews, concert suggestions or website comments.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top Ten Concerts of 2010

The main difference in the 2010 concert going season from the 2009 season was that there was not a Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band concert to dominate. No fret, New Jersey's other favorite son is represented. It was diverse year in shows ranging from seeing some classic rock greats, new Celtic bands, and a blues icon. The list is not in any order since it would be difficult to pinpoint which great musicians should be ranked where on the list.

Kintra at Milwaukee Irish Fest - August 21, 2010 10. Kintra at Milwaukee Irish Fest: Northern Ireland based Kintra's first appearance at Milwaukee Irish Fest was an act not to be missed at the annual celebration of all things Irish. The performance was more of a variety show that featured vocals, pipes, dancing and stunning fiddle playing. I am glad to say that it looks like Kintra is headed back to Milwaukee for the 2011 festival.

9. Gretchen Wilson at Chicago Country Music Festival: My first country music concert in years was kicked off by one rollicking young lady from Southern Illinois who likes to have a party on stage. The Chicago crowd was rocking from first note to the last guitar lick of the evening.

8. The Moody Blues at Milwaukee Summerfest: One of my favorite British bands that should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They played an effortless show covering all their hits from their vast musical library.

Liz Carroll, John Doyle and Friends at Milwaukee Irish Fest - August 21, 2010 7. Liz Carroll, John Doyle and friends at Milwaukee Irish Fest: Liz Carroll is one of the greatest fiddle players today and John Doyle is unequalled on an acoustic guitar. Throw in a couple talented friends and you have a craic at the world's biggest Irish kitchen party.

6. The Elders at the Irish American Heritage Center: This is the band I saw the most this year for good reason - they simply rock. This show at the IAHC was typical of the Elders - great musicianship, vocals and songs. I will definitely see the Elders anytime they play in the Chicago area.

5. The Leahy Christmas Show: The kids stole the show. My favorite Celtic band brought out their children to play and dance and they were fantastic. This was just another great evening with Leahy.

4. Bon Jovi at Soldier Field: What an incredible use of video screens that made the cavernous Soldier Field seem intimate. Throw in two and a half hours of great American rock and roll and you can not go wrong.

Buddy Guy at the Naperville Last Fling - September 3, 2010 3. Buddy Guy at the Naperville Last Fling: Simply put - a living legend proving why he is a living legend.

2. Santana at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre: Going to a concert at a large open air amphitheatre can go real bad real quick. I am glad to report that this did not happen to Santana as he owned every inch of the venue. There is only one Carlos Santana.

1. Eileen Ivers at the Chicago Irish Fest: I had the opportunity to discuss with Eileen Ivers what music she listens to and she replied "everything". You can hear her answer in the music she plays, from traditional Irish reels to music influenced by African and Latin beats to Cape Bretton inspired aires. Eileen also has an ace up her sleeve in one of the strongest touring bands in music today - Immigrant Soul. This celebration of music capped off the Sunday evening of the annual Chicago Irish Fest with an exclamation point!

A special thanks to Jim Fidler for his photographic contributions again this year. Another great concert going year. Here we come 2011!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chicago Country Music Festival 2010

Gretchen WIlson at the Chicago Country Music Festival - October 8, 2010 When it is near 80 degrees in Chicago on the eighth of October you try to do something outside since you might not have an oppportunity to enjoy nice weather until the next spring. When Indian Summer is on the weekend and there is a music festival in Chicago you hop on the late afternoon train and head to Millennium Park for the Chicago Country Music Festival. I picked a good day to go since Gretchen Wilson and Clint Black were the headline acts on the first night of the festival. Where these to performers differ in style they make up in their passion for country music and their loyal fans. Clint Black is a throw back singer who played traditinal country with his versitile band for the appreciateive audience. Gretchen Wilson's country music is more cumbustible as she paid homage to her country and rock and roll roots that she developed in her days growing up in Southern Illinois. This lady plain and simply rocks with a pull-no-punches attitude. What a way to end my 2010 outdoor concert season.

Chicago Country Music Festival -
Gretchen Wilson -
Clint Black -

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Milwaukee Irish Fest 2010

Milwaukee Irish Fest logo To me the greatest Irish Fest of them all occurs every August along the shores of Lake Michigan in the city of Milwaukee. This year marked the 30th anniversary of Milwaukee Irish Fest and if the crowds were any indication the most successful of them all. This was a year to see some new bands and check out some old favorites. My must-see act was Liz Carroll and John Doyle.

On Friday the special guest of the festival was rain (not the band) who last appeared during the 2007 festival. Entering the festival grounds it was a nice summer day and then it decided to storm with the wind blowing the rain sideways to make sure every inch of the fairgrounds was nice and wet. Despite the rain I decided to stay and enjoy the music.

I started off seeing Wisconsin based band Atlantic Wave followed by Green Fields of America. Green Fields of America is a traditional band made up of some of the best traditional players in Irish music. I started watching this set in sunshine and finished watching it under the music store canopy as the rain came down. I finished the day watching two bands perform that are really popular with the younger festival goers - Scythian from Washington DC and Gaelic Storm from California.

On Saturday, as I ventured back up north to Milwaukee with my friend Jim, it was cloudy and looked like it truly could be a repeat of the Irish Fest of 2007. I am glad to report that the rain held off and it turned into a beautiful day.

The first band we saw was Rising Gael who had a nice combination of vocals and fiddle. Rising Gael was followed by another Wisconsin band named Green Tea who I also saw last summer at the festival. Green Tea had a nice combination of flute and fiddle. As per usual, there was a heavy fiddle influence in the bands I chose to see at Irish Fest.

We had the opportunity to see one of our favorite fiddle and guitar duos - Liz Carroll and John Doyle. They did not disappoint. Immediately after the Carroll and Doyle set we saw the Irish traditional band McPeake from Northern Ireland who I hope come back to the festival in the future. McPeake carries on a 100 year heritage and tradition of Irish Music. We followed up McPeake by seeing traditional band Girsa, which means "young girls" in Gaelic, made up of young ladies who started playing together as kids in New York.

The evening set was made up of seeing returning Irish band Slide and a powerhouse show by Kintra.

Rising Gael at Milwaukee Irish Fest Green Tea at Milwaukee Irish Fest
Liz Carroll, John Doyle and Friends at Milwaukee Irish Fest McPeake at Milwaukee Irish Fest
Slide at Milwaukee Irish Fest Kintra at Milwaukee Irish Fest

Milwaukee Irish Fest -
Atlantic Wave
Green Fields of America -
Scythian -
Gaelic Storm -
Rising Gael -
Green Tea -
Liz Carroll -
John Doyle -
Girsa -
McPeake -
Slide -
Kintra -

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Melissa Etheridge Live at SPACE

On a Monday afternoon in May I had the opportunity to see Melissa Etheridge perform a mini-concert and interview at SPACE in Evanston for WXRT radio. It is not that often you get to see an artist as popular as Melissa Etheridge perform in a 200 seat venue on a Monday afternoon. Melissa did not disappoint the crowd. WXRT has posted the video for the show at -

Melissa Etherdge -
SPACE on Evanston -

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Moody Blues at Milwaukee Summerfest

I ventured up to Milwaukee Summerfest to see the Moody Blues on Tuesday Afternoon - make that Wednesday evening. The Moody Blues managed to make the festival setting feel like a theater with their musicianship and musical harmonies. They performed many of their hits during this 90 minute show including Singer In A Rock and Roll Band, Wildest Dreams, and Ride My See Saw. I managed to take a few pictures during their first few songs that I have included in a gallery.

Set List:
  1. The Voice
  2. Day We Meet Again
  3. Slide Zone The Moody Blues at Milwaukee Summerfest
  4. Gypsy
  5. Tuesday Afternoon
  6. Lean On Me
  7. Never Comes The Day
  8. Peak Hour
  9. I Know You're Out There Somewhere
  10. Story In Your Eyes
  11. Widest Dreams
  12. Isn't Life Strange
  13. The Other Side Of Life
  14. Driftwood
  15. Higher and Higher
  16. Are You Sitting Comfortably
  17. Singer In A Rock & Roll Band
  18. Late Lament
  19. Nights In White Satin
  20. Question
  21. Ride My See Saw
The Moody Blues -
The Moody Blues Fan Community -
Milwaukee Summerfest -

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 is now on Twitter and Facebook

We originally jumped into the Web 2.0 world with the addition of RSS feeds and Google Gadgets with the introduction of the Techy Stuff page. We now have created a Facebook Fan/like page and a Twitter page that we would like to encourage you to follow if you are on either of these social networks. We will update our Twitter and Facebook pages when we have new galleries and news to share. As always, thanks for visiting
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Chicago Celtic Fest 2010

The City of Chicago has moved Celtic Fest from Grant Park to Millennium Park and from September to May. The move was done to save money for the city - which I can understand in these economic times. Millennium Park offers better facilities in a smaller venue. The main stage sound system is state of the art with good lighting. Some of the smaller stages have disappeared and the smallest stage sits right on Michigan Avenue where the fiddles and mandolins try to play between traffic noise.

The first act I saw on Saturday was a celebration of the music of Nova Scotia. Coastal Rhythms: The Music and Spirit of Nova Scotia consisted of samples of traditional music from different areas of Nova Scotia. Some of these talented artists have performed at the fest previously with different bands including Pogey.

I had the opportunity to once again see Vishten perform traditional Acadian music. This band is made up of four multi-instrumentalists performing and singing individually and in four part harmony.

After seeing Vishten I was able to sample some of the music on the side stages while also catching a second performance of Coastal Rhythms in the Gathering Tent. Prior to watching the Saw Doctors on the main stage I caught a few songs of Bodega on the Next Generation Stage.

On Sunday I had the opportunity to see Bodega on the main stage. Bodega is a traditional Celtic made up of young Scottish players who formed while attending school in Scotland.

For the second time in less than a month I had the opportunity to see the Elders. The Elders had the crowd up and dancing with their high energy Celtic rock set. The Elders have a loyal following and by the looks of things they have added even more fans following this show.

After the Elders whipped the crowd into a frenzy the French Canadian band La Bottine Souriante performed. This Quebec based band combines fiddle and piano with a horn section. They even had a high energy step dancer to round things off. They were dancing in the aisles by the end of this show.

Coastal Rhythms at Celtic Fest Vishten at Celtic Fest
The Elders at Celtic Fest Bodega at Celtic Fest

Celtic Fest Chicago -
Vishten -
Bodega -
Saw Doctors -
The Elders -
La Bottine Souriante -

Thursday, May 5, 2010

The Elders at the Chicago Irish American Heritage Center

The Elders at the IAHCMy friend Jim and I had the opportunity to see the Elders perform on April 23rd at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago. The concert was part of a new series of shows that the IAHC is offering in their new Erin Room. Since this is a new series of concerts in a new venue the show was not as crowded as a typical Elders show. This afforded Jim the opportunity to take some fantastic pictures from varying vantage points of the Kansas City based band. Jim has graciously allowed me to post these pictures in our newest gallery.

This band grasps the Celtic music traditions while pushing them into the future. The Elders are all great musicians performing original music that can be one moment poignant in the reflections of the Irish struggles while the next celebrating the Irish sense of adventure and fun. On a dime this band can go from the harmonizing vocals of the Men of Erin into the Scottish fueled instrumental Turnpike.

After seeing the Elders quite a few times this was the first time we had the opportunity to meet with the band and some other fans of the Elders. It is always great when you meet musicians whose music you appreciate and they are friendly and seem to enjoy their fans as much as their fans enjoy their music. Below are pictures of Jim and I meeting with Brent, Ian, and Steve of the Elders.

Pat and Brent from the EldersJim and Brent from the Elders
Pat and Brent from the EldersJim and Brent from the Elders
Pat and Brent from the EldersJim and Brent from the Elders

The Elders -
Irish American Heritage Center -

Friday, February 19, 2010

John Mellencamp: Born in the USA

It is kind of neat when one of your favorite musicians is saluted by another one of your favorites. This is from the 32nd Annual Kennedy Center honors that aired on December 30, 2009.