Leave a Comment


    That’s where you see ’em, “summer under the stars” at the Fender Performing Arts Center in Corona, California.

    Fuzzy and I arrived at Fender early Saturday afternoon. We collected our VIP/ Artist badges and were free to roam the Fender Center and museum. They have a wonderful kids’ education music program and the proceeds from this concert would go to this program. The museum had very interesting collections of memorabilia including Fender Stratocasters, Telecasters and amplifiers from lots of different artists throughout the years.

    The soundcheck started around 5 pm. Don (wearing sporty shades) was in great voice but was having some problems getting the sound to his liking. He eventually settled on a sound and then promptly left to prepare for the concert.

    Soundcheck set list:

    Lotta Lovin’
    Tulsa Time
    If You Could Read My Mind

    A kids’ band (that were part of the Fender program) opened the series in this very nice amphitheater to a very enthusiastic and friendly crowd. There was a short interval before the next act came on and the local radio station, Kola 99.9, organized a little rock trivia competition. I knew when it came to the Don question there was only going to be one winner: us. The question was “Where does Don McLean live?”. Fuzzy and I shouted at the top of our voices: “He was born in New York but lives in Maine!!!” The quiz master was so confused as he said he thought Don lived in Texas. We responded that when he’s born again that’s where he’ll come from. Needless to say, we won the T-shirt.

    We were then treated to an hour of reminiscing the Sixties and early Seventies with the rather raucous, fun-loving band, The Turtles. Everyone was “so happy together”!

    Just after 9.30 pm, Don and the band took the stage. Don was dressed in a black cowboy shirt, red rose trim on the collar, black pants with a narrow silver stripe and black cowboy boots. Ralph looked very snazzy in a black Western shirt with silver trimmings, complete with a colorful embroidered Chevy illustration on the back (We learnt later that he had purchased it that afternoon at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum). Tony looked elegant in his open black silk shirt, plum T-shirt and light-colored pants. Pat was wearing a bright red cowboy shirt and black pants. Jerry wore a dark gray T-shirt, light gray glossy long hair and black pants.

    The opening number was Maybe Baby followed by Fool’s Paradise (Don demanded more bass for his guitar). Don’s voice sounded good and Crying was next, complete with a wonderful swirling electronic keyboard sound from Tony. Of course by now Don was getting a lot of loud requests (from a crowd already pumped up by The Turtles), so he replied that the big Madonna hit was coming later.

    And I Love You So was preceded by Don informing us that he was so thrilled at being invited into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. He remarked that around 1963 he started to attend Villanova University. His mother got him in there. He met Jim Croce and Jim was always very nice to him. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated and in the same month Don decided to quit school. He eventually went back and graduated in 1968. Forty years to the day Kennedy died, Don was notified of his prospective induction to the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. He then realized “it had been a long, long road.”

    He wanted his guitar turned down a bit for Superman’s Ghost, and after that song said it was a great beer drinking audience.

    Next came the rousing Headroom (some really biting sounds coming from Pat’s cherry red Gibson Les Paul guitar). By Don’s reaction he really thought Pat was “on tonight”! Headroom went straight into Dreidel and then came Fashion Victim, again punctuated with some very powerful electric guitar chords. Don was now in fine form and did a specially great version of Crossroads, accompanied as always by the beautiful piano of Tony Migliore. Then it was time for another great crowd-pleaser, Vincent.

    After very enthusiastic applause, Don invited the audience to sing along on This Little Light of Mine. The band were given their solo spots, and I must comment how greatly and fully they have become integrated into Don’s sound. They are ALL sounding better than ever! (if that is possible). Fabulous piano solo, great bass runs, stylish drumming and a very different and jazzy solo guitar on this one. Don was feeling good.

    On the next introduction, Don said “Now we’ll see if the blood vessels in my brain are all right!” He went straight into Since I Don’t Have You and hit all the high notes perfectly.

    One of the highlights and surprises of the evening was when Pat put down his Gibson and picked up his National resophonic guitar. It was time for some Dobro playing for the next three songs. First up, in Don’s words, was “a mediocre Bob Dylan song”, Living the Blues:

    Since you’ve been gone
    I’ve been walkin’ around
    With my head bowed down to my shoes.
    I’ve been livin’ the blues
    Every night without you….

    Great sound and a very good new song for Don!

    Next he told us he was going to do a Western song, The Ballad of Billy the Kid:

    When Billy the Kid was a very young lad,
    In old Silver City, he went to be bad;
    At twelve years of age the Kid killed his first man,
    Then blazed a wide trail with a gun in each hand….

    A great song!

    The real outstanding performance of the night came on the final Dobro-accompanied song. A stunning and beautiful version of Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind. This arrangement was fantastic!

    By the time the words “A long long time ago” were heard, people just left their seats and rushed to the front of the stage ready to dance. Don was clearly having fun and the whole amphitheater was ready to party. Of course he said, after the last chorus, “Let’s do it again!” and we had the reprise.

    For the people lucky enough to be part of the VIP section, there was a reception right after the concert. Fuzzy and I were greeted very warmly by Don and after a short chat Don asked us to follow him into the reception. He gave a short sit-down interview with a Fender representative, the main conversation revolving round his early musical influences. Then he gave good advise to youngsters who want to pursue their music-making dreams. Don was very gracious and signed a Fender Telecaster guitar that was later auctioned for $1400 to benefit the Fender kids’ education program.

    We rounded off a very enjoyable day meeting three members of the band. Ralph and Tony were extremely nice, as was Pat who revealed his love for jazz guitar. After a very long night, Don still found time to sign autographs for the fans in the room. It was obvious Don and the band were enjoying this tour and all remarked how great Hong Kong had been. Don and the band have never sounded better! This is going to be one GREAT WORLD TOUR!

    Fender Concert Set List

    1. Maybe Baby
    2. Fool’s Paradise
    3. Crying
    4. Jerusalem
    5. And I Love You So
    6. Superman’s Ghost
    7. Headroom
    8. Dreidel
    9. Fashion Victim
    10. Crossroads
    11. Vincent
    12. This Little Light of Mine
    13. Since I Don’t Have You
    14. Living the Blues
    15. The Ballad of Billy the Kid
    16. If You Could Read My Mind
    17. American Pie
    18. American Pie reprise

  2. Transferred from the guestbook:

    I attended the show at the FenderPerforming Arts Center in Corona, CA 6/5/04. It was wonderful to see and listen to Don, who sounded great! He is such a great songwriter, and his contributions to music and culture represent the foundations of many great memories for me. One of my favorite songs is “Vincent,” and it was good to hear it live. The band was very good, too.

  3. My first time seeing Don and wanting to for all these years since being another Die-Hard for American Pie (Yes, I know all the words!). Don sounded great and while the fans were all over at the foot of the stage for American Pie, my favorite (and my fiance’s) was And I Love You So. We cried (sobbed?) through the entire song. If Don wrote it about his lover, I can’t fathom how he can sing it without crying himself!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.