Last Saturday night, Beth Hart, one of my musical heroes, came to town and performed a phenomenal show with her kick-ass band at Park West in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Anyone who knows me is well aware that live music is a part of my “holy trinity.” That said, I would never miss an opportunity to see one of my most favorite singers or bands simply because no one was available to join me. I have been to many concerts over the years by myself and I never minded one bit. Sure, it’s fun to attend a show with my friends, but it is not always possible for them to join me. Other times, they have no interest in seeing a particular show.
Life is a series of opportunities to make long-lasting, fun memories. So, why would you choose to miss your favorite band perform live, simply because your friends are unavailable? That’s just sad! I know many of you reading this post feel anxious or self-conscious about traveling, dining or attending cultural events, such as concerts, solo. I encourage you to get over those feelings as soon as possible or you will find yourself in “would’a, could’a, should’a ” funk years down the road, riddled with regrets. You don’t want that, do you?
I have been a huge fan of Beth Hart since her career began to take off nearly 20 years ago. An incredible singer/songwriter with classical piano skills (she also plays guitar!), Beth burst onto the scene as a Star Search winner. She put out her first two albums, Immortal and Screamin’ for My Supper back in the late ’90s. However, due to a bipolar disorder which went undetected, as well as her drug addiction, Beth’s blossoming career was derailed for awhile until she got sober and the medical treatment she needed. During this time, Beth was dropped by her U.S. record label. However, she came back strong and cultivated a tremendous and steadily growing fan base overseas in Europe. I, like many other U.S. fans, never forgot Beth while she was absent from the U.S. radio stations and tour circuit.
I fell in love with Beth Hart’s voice, music and lyrics from the get-go. She is a raw, edgy, honest, vulnerable artist who openly, bravely and generously bares her soul time and time again with her fans both old and new. She is a blues, rock and soul singer with the most gritty, soul-piercing voice you will ever hear. NO ONE CAN TOUCH HER. Beth’s influences range from Etta James to Billie Holiday to Aretha Franklin to Janis Joplin, just to name just a few. Yet, Beth’s voice is one of the most recognizable and unique on the planet. No joke! She reaches deep inside of your heart, feeds your soul, lifts your spirit and rocks your world.
In 2012, Beth Hart surprised her U.S. fans and many who never heard of her, by performing along side legendary guitarist, Jeff Beck at The Kennedy Center Honors show, paying tribute to Buddy Guy. Beth and Jeff performed the soul-stirring song, “I’d Rather Go Blind” which was made famous by Etta James. To say that Beth’s performance brought the house down is a huge understatement. In a rare moment for the annual Kennedy Center Honors show, a usually staid affair, the crowd was up on its feet in an astonishing frenzy of applause and appreciation. As I watched from my living room, I knew right then that Beth’s performance that night would lead to her return back home to the U.S. I was right! Two months later, after I flew to Dublin, Ireland to see Beth Hart and her band perform live at Whelan’s (a local pub), Beth returned to the U.S. in Spring 2013 to tour the east coast. I met up with friends in New York to catch her and the band at City Winery in 2013 and at Highline Ballroom in 2014.
I am so happy I had the opportunity to catch Beth Hart at Park West, just the kind of intimate venue which she typically chooses to play. All the better to connect with her other devoted fans. I had fun chatting with some of those other fans while we waited on line for close to 2 hours before the doors opened, as Park West is a general admission venue. It is always fun to exchange stories with other people who enjoy the same music and artists. Some of the people I met on Saturday drove across state lines to see the show. One guy flew in from Finland! So, you see? Just because I attended the concert solo, it did not mean I was alone. I was in the company of people who shared a love of the same band. We had plenty to talk about that evening while we froze our butts off outside 🙂 Another highlight of that night was chatting with Bassist, Bob Marinelli and Scott Guetzkow, Beth’s Road Manager and loving husband. Such lovely, down-to-earth guys!
Although there is no bad seat at Park West, I was lucky to score a great one close to the stage. Matt Andersen was the opening act. He is an incredibly accomplished acoustic guitarist, singer and storyteller. I am so happy Beth invited him to join her on tour. I doubt I would have found him on my own, especially if I had chosen to skip this concert altogether for fear of going solo 😉
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.