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Five Life-Changing Rock & Roll Shows - by JCE

I read and enjoyed the recent piece posted here on Pencilstorm called “Tales of My Misspent Youth: Five Concerts That Changed My Life” by Jim Johnson. In keeping with the series of pieces about life-changing records that hung on for several weeks here on Pencilstorm, I thought I would follow Jim with my own list. I’m calling them “shows” because I philosophically struggle to call club gigs “concerts.” And for me, four out of five on my list were in small clubs. I won’t bore you with too much detail, I’ll keep it short. Some of my shows are kind of obscure, so you might be bored anyway. Here goes, in chronological order:

1. Aerosmith w/ Golden Earring, Capital Centre, Landover, MD. If you have read any of the stuff I have posted on Pencilstorm, you should be scratching your head at this one. It’s here because it was my first concert ever, around 1975. My awesome big sister (R.I.P.) took me to this show and launched my life-long love of live rock and roll. I had the best big sister in the world. Notably, the opening act was supposed to be Styx, but they cancelled. Thank God for that.

2. The Stranglers w/ Minor Threat and Bad Brains, Ontario Theater, Washington, D.C. In middle school and high school I was a skateboarder, which led me to being pretty much a punk rocker as well. This was not the first punk show I saw by any means, but it was an early one with a great band from England (I never saw the Pistols or The Clash unfortunately). The openers were D.C. hardcore legends, a scene which later had a major impact on me.

3. Tru Fax and the Insaniacs w/ Jason & the Nashville Scorchers, Nightclub 9:30, Washington, D.C. I saw Tru Fax probably 30 times or more. They were my favorite D.C. band along with the Slickee Boys and Tommy Keene. The opening act is what gets this show on the list however. Jason & the Nashville Scorchers (they dropped the “Nashville” soon after this show) were the best live band I ever saw, second only to The Neighborhoods. I saw them about six times and they were nothing shy of spectacular every time.

4. 98 Colours, The Mineshaft, Charlottesville, VA. I realize that no one has heard of these guys. They never even made a record. But this band became the core of a group of the best friends I could imagine, as we all saw them every time they played, and it was an amazing time in my life. John (drums), Randy (bass, vocals) and David (guitar, vocals) were tremendous friends and they had a huge influence on my life. I doubt I would have met my beautiful wife of 28 years without them. I will tell their story in a future piece if the story is deemed worthy of Pencilstorm.

5. The Neighborhoods, The C&O, Charlottesville, VA. I saw The Neighborhoods many, many times with the Minehan, Harrington, Quaglia line-up. I saw them in Charlottesville every time they played, I saw them in Richmond, Washington, D.C., and even in their hometown of Boston. They are the best live band ever and therefore they MUST be on this list. The show I am picking for the list was one of the first ones I saw, if not THE first, so it is memorable. I was simply blown away. I met the guys a number of times and they were always gracious. My friends in 98 Colours opened for them several times as well. This is a band that means so much to me.

Okay, those are my five. When I sat and thought about a list, I had a dozen. It was tough to narrow down, but these were the most impactful, if not necessarily the best shows I have seen. Thanks for reading. Who’s next with their list? - JCE

Ricki C. and JCE (John, to his friends & family) first bonded over their shared mutual love of Boston's Finest Sons - The Neighborhoods - and everything extended out from that rock & roll ripple.  JCE lives in Culpeper, Virginia with his wife & daughter, and he & Ricki are STILL waiting for the long-rumored NEW Neighborhoods record to be released. Maybe in 2019.