January 29, 2011

Concert #62 - John Wesley Harding at McCabe's Guitar Shop (June 7, 1990)

At the time of this writing, I have seen 264 shows at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. But on June 7, 1990, my McCabe's concert count stood at zero. I had seen their ads in the Calendar section of the LA Times, but until John Wesley Harding's gig there, I had not visited the place.

UPDATE (June 7, 2020): My current McCabe's concert count is 528.

I was first introduced to John Wesley Harding's music in early 1990, while checking things out at Rhino Records in Claremont. My ears caught a song that had all the right ingredients and the store clerk gave me all the details I needed - the song was "Here Comes The Groom", performed by a certain John Wesley Harding, a British singer-songwriter. Needless to say, I bought the album, then a few months later, I drove out to Santa Monica to see him live, in concert.

I got there early, just before 6 PM. I walked in and found myself in a store. With a puzzled look on my face, I asked "Where's the concert gonna be"? They told me "In the backroom, you may check it out now". So I entered the backroom and I froze: John Wesley Harding was just starting his sound check. I stood there listening to "Cathy's New Clown" and bits and pieces of other songs. I said to myself "I like this place".

For the show proper, I sat in the second row, only the second time in my concert-going career that I could sit so close to a favorite performer. JWH played all my favorite songs from "Here Comes The Groom", except for "The Devil In Me". He was humorous, intelligent, played the guitar with ferocity at times and delivered one great song after another.

Even though he was a relative newcomer to the LA singer-songwriter scene, John Wesley Harding had two unannounced guests: Dave Alvin and John Easdale, of Dramarama fame. The latter duetted with JWH on "Last Cigarette", Dramarama's 1989 hit. Years later, Dave Alvin would become one of my all-time favorite musicians.

I was in total awe of John Wasley Harding's performance and it all happened right there in front of my eyes. When the show was over, the guy sitting next to me turned to me and said "As good as it gets". I answered "My thoughts, precisely".

1 comment:

  1. Me and my wife's first time there too! I don't remember Dave Alvin! I do remember Last Cigarette because we were listening to Dramarama at that time. Saw Alejandro Escovedo there two years later when his first album came out. We're going back to McCabe's to see him again in May. What goes around... Matthew K - ps I made up for forgetting Dave by seeing him there with Phil a few years back.