Archive for The Summit

November 30, 1984

Posted in Bruce Springsteen with tags , , , , on November 30, 2010 by 30daysout

For thousands of fans who piled into The Summit in Houston to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on Nov. 30, 1984 it was just another concert. However, for me, it was a night that changed my life. As soon as The Boss yelled “One, two, three, four” and went into a blistering version of “Born in the USA” I knew I wanted to be a singer in a rock and roll band.

The show was phenomenal. His energy was incredible. We heard everything that night; “Jungleland,” “Racing in the Street,” “Thunder Road,” “Johnny Bye Bye, “Cadillac Ranch,” you name any of his best songs and we saw them that night. I thought the roof was going to come off the building when they went into the “Detroit Medley.”  It was the best the concert I had ever seen.

The next day my brother and I were in the garage with a couple of other guys putting a band together. I was playing drums at the time, but one day I decided to try my hand at singing. The first song I sang in front of people was “Dancing in the Dark.” While it wasn’t even close to  great, it felt great. Since that time I have been in three different bands, and have been the lead singer for two. While I haven’t experienced 1/1,000,000th of the success of Mr. Springsteen, the experience of writing, recording, performing and singing has enriched my life in more ways than I can count. I thank Bruce for that night and for giving me the inspiration to do what I always knew I wanted to do, but never had the courage to try.

“Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

“Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Getting ready for the “Darkness” box: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Houston 1978

Posted in Bruce Springsteen with tags , , on November 11, 2010 by 30daysout

Bruce Springsteen in 1978 (Photo by Mark Wyville)

When the big box set for The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story comes out next week, the six-disc set will include a bonus DVD with an entire live show from Houston in 1978.   I’m not quite sure I want to buy this set, because I was at that show … and I don’t know if I have the stamina to relive it all over again.

December 1978 came to Texas with a cold and bitter wind, and I was in Austin covering a girls’ volleyball tournament for the Port Arthur News.  The final games were Thursday afternoon at the University of Texas, and we were hearing rumblings about a big concert across campus: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  I had seen Springsteen once before, at the Armadillo World HQ about four years earlier; another media guy from my area had never experienced a Springsteen show before and he really wanted to go.

Not my ticket, I found this on the internet

Our tournament rolled on into the early evening, and we knew attending any concert was out of the question as we dutifully interviewed sweaty high school girls and filed our stories.  Later we walked down Guadalupe toward Conan’s Pizza in a bitterly cold wind; it felt like someone was hurling steak knives into our asses, their points digging even deeper because we knew we were walking away from a Springsteen show.

By this time everybody had heard about Springsteen’s marathon shows, about 25 songs stretching into three hours or so.  Upon seeing Springsteen in 1974 at Houston’s Liberty Hall, my friend Cindy said “this guy has to be on speed” and talk of these marathon shows seemed to confirm that notion. Well, no use dwelling on it … time for pizza and beer.   But every time somebody opened that goddamn front door the freezing wind blew in some ecstatic couple raving about the killer rock show they’d just seen.

So the next day, Friday, we’re driving back to the Armpit of Texas through Houston.  Listening to rock station KLOL, we heard the announcement that a handful of tickets was about to go on sale at the Summit box office for Springsteen’s sold-out show that night.   In the days before online ticket ordering and cell phones there were just a few ways to get a primo concert ticket.  One was to camp out for hours – or maybe days – at the venue box office until they went on sale.   The other was to drive like a freakin’ lunatic down Houston’s Loop 610, dodging other cars like A.J. Foyt on a DUI.

Long story short: $10 apiece (eight bucks and some change, plus a bogus “service charge” even then), and we were in!  Crummy seats to the right of the stage, but at least we had tickets.  Cruising down the ramp with our prizes in hand, we heard a squeal of tires on the other end … another Boss fan about to get his wings!

The Summit - Now it's a freakin' church!

Show time!  Springsteen and band hit the stage roaring into “Badlands.”  Just a couple of tunes into the show he introduced “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City,” dedicating it to the Liberty Hall crowd.  A little later, Springsteen caught his breath by asking, “What’s the deal with the lousy weather?   It’s like New Jersey down here!”

Ah, what else do I remember?  They did “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town,” with the big intro (“It was a cold December night … me and Steve walking on the boardwalk …”  They also did “Because The Night,” which was a Patti Smith single (I had the “topless” picture sleeve) and “Fire,” which I knew from the Robert Gordon-Link Wray version (the Pointer Sisters hit came a little later, I believe).

He also did “The Fever,” which was huge in Houston because they played the hell out of it on KLOL.  And that long-ass guitar intro to “Prove It All Night” was pretty good.

The concert hit its homestretch with “Rosalita,” much longer because that’s where he introduced the band members, and “Born To Run.”  For the encore Springsteen and the E Streeters came out and did their version of Mitch Ryder’s “Devil In A Blue Dress” medley which pretty much whipped the crowd.  Nobody wanted to leave, and they were doing old Sixties covers when the lights went on again.  Springsteen refused to leave, taunting the crowd with “I thought you guys in Texas are so tough!”

When they finally managed to get the guy off stage for good, we walked out toward the parking garage.  The icy wind blew through, and I shivered harder than I had all week.  Only then did I realize: I was soaked in sweat!

Editor’s Note: The complete December 8, 1978 show will be included as a special DVD in the box set coming out next Tuesday. The Summit was one of the first venues in the country to employ an in-house closed circuit TV system during rock concerts; this show is the video seen by the audience, at least those who weren’t flailing around in rock and roll ecstasy.

“Because the Night”  Houston, Dec. 8, 1978 – (Don’t worry, the lights do come up!)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Video courtesy of


Lost Classics? “Allies,” Crosby, Stills & Nash

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on July 13, 2009 by 30daysout

Stills and Crosby, Houston 1977

To help us get in the mood to make the trek up to New York for the 40th anniversary of Woodstock (August 15), I made a couple of mix CDs with some music of the era and in doing so I marveled at how well much of that stuff still holds up today.  (Well, it may depend on how old you are and what you’ve been smoking …)

And I wondered how often did some of these acts go astray in the ensuing years?  Here’s an example: Allies, a 1983 mostly live effort from Woodstock vets Crosby, Stills and Nash.

In 1977 I saw CSN at the Summit in Houston – they had put out the highly successful CSN album that year and scored a radio hit: the Graham Nash-penned “Just A Song Before I Go.”  The album itself would have been No. 1, but it was kept out of the top spot by a little thing called Rumours.

Anyway, CSN in Houston sounded pretty good, Stephen Stills played great and David Crosby hadn’t spiraled into drug-induced insanity yet.  Cut to 1983 – CSN’s  hit album from the year before, Daylight Again, anchored by “Wasted On The Way” and “Southern Cross,” is still on the charts.  They are approached by Hollywood to write a song for an upcoming movie about a kid who hacks into the top-secret U.S. Defense computer system, taking the world to the brink of a nuclear war.

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A Tale of Two Cities: Toto, Live 1985

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2008 by 30daysout

As thousands of students filed into G. Rollie White Coliseum on the campus of Texas A&M University on a cool March evening, you could feel excitment in the air. T-shirts and other parephenalia were being snapped up quickly, the beer line was long, the girls were scantily clad and TOTO was about to hit the stage in less than an hour.

The band had just released, Isolation, its first LP since their megahit TOTO IV and the first with new lead singer Fergie Fredericksen, who had replaced Bobby Kimball. I had made the trip from college in Beaumont, TX and, as a fan since the first album, I was really looking forward to this show. After having to endure opening act, John Parr (Naughty, Naughty), TOTO finally hit the stage and proceeded to kick ass.

The crowd was on its feet for most of the night while the band ripped through classics like “Rosanna,” “Hold the Line,” “Africa,” and “I’ll Supply the Love.” Keyboardist David Paich was so enamored with the crowd that at the end of the show he said “whenever anyone asks me where I’m from, I’m going to say College Station, TX.” If you know anything about College Station, the crowd went nuts. Then one week later….the band played at The Summit in Houston. What a difference a week makes.

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Friday is Boss’ Day: Live, Houston 1984

Posted in Bruce Springsteen with tags , , , , , on June 27, 2008 by 30daysout

Photos by Art Meripol.  Visit his photo blog here.

In early October, 1984, it was announced that Bruce Springsteen was coming to The Summit on Nov. 29. Tickets were to go on sale at 6 a.m. at the Houston Astrodome, however, the line up was at 3 a.m. Yes, 3 a.m. This was before the days of the lottery, so where you were in line was where you were in line. Thousands of us braved an unusually cold October morning in anticipation of purchasing tickets to the hottest rock and roll show on the road.

Springsteen was riding an unbelievable wave of popularity. Born In The USA was a monster album, he was constantly being played on the radio (those were the days), and on MTV and he had quickly become one of my idols. I had to get a ticket to this show. There were no ifs, ands or buts, I had to get in.

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