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Why I Won’t Pay Big Money For Concerts

Published February 23, 2020 by Maryanne

Duran Duran concertMy husband and I at a Duran Duran show — FREE! 

I’ve been a music fan as soon as I knew what music was. Music was always playing in my house when I was a kid. And growing up, music was my priority in life. Mind you, I am not a musician; just a huge fan.

Concert going was always important to me. And even back in the day, growing up in an upper middle class family, tickets were overpriced. However, back then, you still had a fighting chance if you got to the mall early in the morning, you could score a front row seat for the regular ticket price before the scalpers got their grubby hands on them.

Then, things changed. You had no choice but to get tickets from scalpers. However, the most I paid to see a big name star, David Bowie, was $150 for 10th row center, during his Serious Moonlight Tour at Madison Square Garden in 1984.

David Bowie set the bar for me; he was worth it. And I subconsciously made a vow that I’d never pay more than $150 for a concert — over 30 years later, I stuck to it. The only other times I shelled out money close was $100 to see The Stones and $75 to see Prince.

Throughout the years, I’ve seen many big name concerts free because they were outdoors. OR, because, lucky, ambitious me, I was a journalist and was guest listed. And I have some friends in the music industry. And I married a musician. And I’m lucky. I’ve won tickets to see some great shows. And, last but not least, let’s not minimize the talent of our own friends who have made their way in the music industry on a smaller scale. Local talent should never be disregarded.

About 15 years ago I reconnected with a music loving friend I knew from high school. We went to many concerts together as teenagers; then a few as adults. She complimented me, saying that I was always up for a good time, and that I always had money to do things. She invited me to go to a concert with her that was well over $200. I declined. I couldn’t see the justification for paying that kind of money to see anyone when I’ve spent a lifetime of going to see music — GOOD MUSIC– for way less.

Here are some examples of great shows I’ve seen over the decades, for free, for winning, for being on the guest list (due to being a journalist or knowing someone), or for a real good deal. (Note: I’m not including concerts where people treated me as a gift).

Check it out….(note, all random off the top of my head, there are TONS more)

Free Outdoor Concerts

Elton John

Patti Smith

1910 Fruitgum Company

The Smithereens

Lou Christie

Tommy James

Gary Puckett

Ian Hunter

NY Dolls

Tom Tom Club

Peter Noone

Nancy Sinatra

The Turtles

Joan Jett

Chuck Berry

The Zombies

Sheila E.

And many, many more!

On The Guest List

Blondie

Tom Petty & Stevie Nicks

The Pixies

The Plasmatics

Diamanda Galas

Duran Duran

Judy Collins

Roger McGuinn (The Byrds)

The Fab Faux

Tommy James

And many, many more!

Tickets I Won

Richard Barone (The Bongos)

Jeffrey Gaines

Rain (Beatles Tribute)

Probably more, but I can’t remember unless I go to my diaries.

(And don’t get me started on tickets I won but couldn’t attend for whatever reason, urgh! Still kicking myself for not going to see the late Hasil Adkins at Maxwell’s in Hoboken!)

Shows I paid $10 or less! 

Sierra Ferrell (upcoming artist, Rounder Records)

Ratt (1980s hair metal band)

Brute Force (Apple Records Recording Artist)

And many, many more!

Maybe I’m blessed, or just spoiled, but with so many great musical acts out there, and so many opportunities to see cheap or free shows, why should I shell out big bucks to ticket agencies? It’s definitely not necessary. Especially since, when you think about it, what goes up eventually must come down. Not to put anyone down–no way, I love these musicians way too much–but it’s just a great fact for us fans that in years to come, one of your favorites that was charging a ton of money in a large venue will perform for much less (or even free) in a smaller venue in years to come. Just a few years ago I saw Cher in a theatre in Maryland for under $40.

What was your favorite cheap or free concert? What was the most you ever spent on a concert? How do you justify it? 

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9

 

Pop Rock Music Icon Tommy James Inducted into NJ Hall of Fame

Published February 20, 2017 by Maryanne

tommy-james-photo-from-carolTommy James (Photo used courtesy of Carol Ross-Durborow)

This article originally appeared in The Verona/Cedar Grove News (New View Media)

Pop Rock Music Icon Tommy James Inducted into NJ Hall of Fame

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

Tommy James, said he is “very honored” to be inducted into the NJ Hall of Fame, which will be held in Asbury Park in May. The Cedar Grove iconic musician has 23 gold records, nine platinum albums, and over 100 million records sold worldwide.

“Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony Mony,” “Draggin’ the Line,” “Sweet Cherry Wine,” and “Hanky Panky” are just a few of his many hit records. His songs have been covered by other famous artists like Prince, Joan Jett, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Idol, Dolly Parton, REM, Carlos Santana, and The Boston Pops.

James’ music is heard in 31 films to date and numerous television shows including “Breaking Bad,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Goldbergs,” and “Aquarius.” You can also hear James’ songs in commercials. His “Crystal Blue Persuasion” is now the theme song for Crystal Cruise Line.

Born in Ohio and brought up in Michigan, James has been living in New Jersey almost 45 years. He’s lived in Clifton, and now resides in Cedar Grove. “I love it in New Jersey,” he said. “The weather’s moderate. The people are fun. It’s right by New York, where I have to be. I don’t think I can operate anywhere else. You’ve got the ocean, New York, Philadelphia. You’re in the center of the universe. Nothing is like New Jersey.”

While James has spent such a long time in New Jersey, he’s been in the music business even longer – 50 years! Regarding his endurance in the biz, he said, “I look at three generations of people in concert audiences. The music has never not been on the radio. I’ve been very blessed.”

James started playing music when he was 4-years-old and his grandfather brought him a ukulele. “I learned everything I could,” he said. “I started singing right away.”

His mom, who played piano, got James an acoustic guitar after he saw Elvis on TV. “The ukulele went out the window,” he said jokingly.

In addition to Elvis Presley, James was greatly inspired by the first generation of rock ‘n’ roll. “Gene Vincent … Buddy Holly,” he said. “Then The Beatles came along.”

Always encouraged by his folks, James taught himself to play acoustic, then graduated to playing an electric at the age of 10. He started his first band at 12, and got his first gig at 13. James graduated high school in 1965 and by 1966 his first hit, with The Shondells, “Hanky Panky” exploded.

“That’s how the good Lord works,” said James.

As a writer of so many hits, James says that inspiration for a song can come from anywhere. “I’m always looking on billboards for a little phrase,” he said. “I like to start with chord progression and it will tell you where it wants to go. ‘Crimson and Clover’ started with a title.”

He feels lucky to have had so many other notable musicians’ interpretations of his music. “I’m very flattered,” he said. “It’s always interesting to hear how another artist covers your songs.” His favorite is Prince’s version of “Crimson and Clover.”

James’ critically acclaimed autobiography, “Me, the Mob, and the Music,” was listed on Rolling Stone magazine’s “Best Music Memoirs” and is now in the development for a film, with producer Barbara De Fina, whose credits include “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” “Cape Fear,” “Color of Money,” “Hugo,” and the most recent, Martin Scorsese’s new film, “Silence.”

Matthew Stone just finished the screenplay for the film. His credits include “Intolerable Cruelty,” “Man of the House,” and “Big Trouble.”

James may have a cameo appearance in the film. “I may be a corpse,” he said jokingly, referring to his career which is now spanning 50 years and still thriving.

Now working in the studio on a new album, “Alive,” James expects an April release. “This is an album with eight new songs and four remakes,” he said, “A lot of nice little surprises.” One of the surprises includes an acoustic remake of “Crystal Blue Persuasion.”

Being able to thrive in the music business for 50 years and still have fun makes James feel so lucky. He said, “It’s been an amazing journey to be a lifer in this business. The fans, and the good Lord, I thank for the longevity and staying focused. That has meant a lot.”

For more information, visit: https://www.tommyjames.com/