Writer’s Workshop: My Last Concert

As much as I love music, I’m not a real concert kind of guy. I guess I’d rather sit home and listen to the recorded music. I think the last time I saw a concert was in 1992.

That time, I was in Toronto (Mississauga, actually) doing a training class. The Internet at the time consisted of America Online, which cost a fortune for “international” dialup, so spending much time on that was not a good idea. I had been to the mall across the street already, and there really wasn’t much else around, so I was prepared to spend a lot of time in my room watching TV.

I was reading the paper and find a story about Stephane Grappelli, who made musical history in the Thirties when he on violin and Django Reinhardt on guitar formed the Quintette du Hot Club de France with two other guitarists and a string bassist, the first jazz band made up solely of string musicians. A sample, the one I always pull out in situations like this, so those of you who have been following the blog for a while have already seen it.

At the end of the article, it mentioned that Grappelli would be playing the following evening at Massey Hall. I had no idea where Massey Hall was, but I knew I was going.

The next evening, I found Massey Hall, which is a pretty spectacular place in and of itself, and my seat therein, and a little after eight that evening, “Ladies and gentlemen, Stephane Grappelli.”

He walked out slowly, helped by a young man, with his guitarist, Bucky Pizzarelli, and the bass player (whose name is lost in my memory) walking behind him. They sat him down in a chair, he pulled out his violin, and for the next two hours, it was the Hot Club in the Thirties again.

He still had it, sixty years later, as feeble as he might have been. Pizzarelli, while no Django, is a spectacular player himself, and did a solo version of “Nuages,” maybe Django’s best-known song. His last song was “Limehouse Blues,” and when he finished the young man who had walked him onto the stage carried him off as the crowd went wild. Of course, there was an encore, and when the group got resituated on the stage, Grappelli said “Thank you.” Someone in the audience gave the obligatory, “No, thank you.”

I left, knowing that I had seen and heard a piece of music history. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been to another concert.

26 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: My Last Concert

  1. Very cool, John. Sometimes we stumble upon great things. 1992 though, that’s a long time! We have another 10 planned for this year alone! Happy Thursday!


  2. I think my last concert was 2002. I honestly think I may be done with big venue concerts. I’ve seen about a hundred.
    I kid you not, Massey Hall is featured on someone’s door post today! 🙂


    1. I’ll keep my eyes open for it. It’s a real beautiful venue and has lots of old-world charm.

      I tended to listen to live music at clubs more than anything, because few of the people I wanted to see live were playing big venues.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw Grappelli with David Grisham at Saratoga, California’s Masson Mountain Winery in 1988. Grappelli’s a great player, and it was an excellent show.

    Jazz violinist Jean Luc Ponty always cites him as a primary influence.


    1. That must have been one of his last shows. He died the following year. Django and Stephane influenced a lot of players, some of whom are probably not aware of it. They were years ahead of their time.


  4. You can’t top that story, or that concert. I’ve been to concerts more recently than 1992, but I don’t go to a lot of them, so they are special to me. The last one was Brian Wilson doing Pet Sounds. He did a lot of the other Beach Boys songs, too. It was great.



  5. John,

    I’m like you, I love music but am not a concert goer. The expense is one thing and I value my hearing too much to subject it to that kind of torture no matter how good it sounds. Seeing a violionist in concert sounds lovely and had to be a rather relaxing experience. That must have been awesome to see. Thanks for sharing!


  6. That must have been a great concert and seeing it in the famous Massey Hall. Raymond Massey is related to the people who started this Hall who. I think was his uncle.


  7. Ah, AOL. The good old “welcome! you’ve got mail” days.
    I don’t remember the last concert I was at, exactly. It was a five-day music festival with a lot of indie bands. And a lot of liquid refreshments… ha ha ha.


    1. AOL was a lot of people’s introduction to the Internet, and it might still be a force to be reckoned with if Time Warner hadn’t merged with them and bled it dry. On the other hand, CompuServe and Prodigy didn’t survive at all…


    1. That’s what I thought. Usually I didn’t venture too far from my hotel, but I said to myself, this might be the only time I get to see him. Like World War II veterans, they’re a dying breed.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey. I just found this note. I was at that concert. I think it was me who shouted out ‘Thank you!”. And the encore was him playing the piano just as beautifully for another hour!!


    1. I missed the piano concert! I think I wanted to get back to my hotel at a decent time because I had work the next day and it had taken me an hour to get to Massey Hall. Grappelli was an excellent pianist, I remember. Do you remember the bass player’s name?


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