Saturday, March 28, 2009


Respect. Why is this so hard for some people? I went to see J.D. Blackfoot at the Sheldon Concert Hall last night. He is a classic rock legend (well, should be a legend anyway) who got his start in St. Louis thanks to KSHE radio. He is an incredibly talented singer and songwriter, and loves his fans. The show last night was incredible, but there were some incredibly rude, disrespectful "fans" in the audience trying to ruin it for everyone else. His early albums, The Ultimate Prophecy, The Song of Crazy Horse, Tokala, are rock epics. His later albums tend to be softer, acoustic, introspective, poignant and sometimes humorous looks at life. Two very different types of music, but neither is better than the other.

Last night he played some songs from his forthcoming album "The Story of Texas Red." The format of this album will be him telling a short story, then singing a song inspired by that story. Story, song, story, song. So that is how he sang the songs on stage last night. J.D. has a deep, booming voice that would make any storyteller jealous. He brought the stories to life, touched my heart with them. Well, some "fans" did not agree. They only wanted to hear the rock songs from his early years. They didn't care about story telling. So when J.D. was on stage relating these stories, they thought it would be alright to talk loudly through the whole thing. A couple times J.D. simply sat in silence until the quieted down, then continued on with the story. More restraint than I might have shown. This went on for 2 or 3 story/song sets. Finally someone in the audience had enough and shouted "Shut the **** up." Maybe not the most eloquent phrasing, but it got the point across.

J.D. is an artist. He puts his heart and soul into his music and stories. Just because he may not be playing the exact song YOU want to hear, please listen and show some respect. Or if you really don't want to hear it, leave the auditorium and have your conversation in the lobby.

One of J.D.'s best songs from his later years is "Missing You in St. Louis." It is about the Vietnam War and friends lost. The war was before I was born, and no one in my family was involved, but I can't listen to that song without tears coming to my eyes. Last night J.D. invited the Marine Color Guard to the show. Four brave men in uniform carried the Marine and US flags, and 2 rifles, and stood on stage during the song. A man in the row behind me talked the entire time. I almost turned around and told him to show a little respect for those who have risked and given their lives for our freedom. Again, why is respect so hard?

Finally, toward the end of the show, J.D. did something truly amazing. He took perhaps 15 minutes to talk about friends, family, and fans who have died in the past year. He had several empty seats in the audience in honor of them. He acknowledged each and every one, and their families who are still here and were in the audience last night. Again, this brought tears to my eyes, even though I didn't know any of the departed. After about 15 min of this, however, one restless "fan" shouted out, "Play some music!" I wonder if he would have been so rude if any of the departed had been his family?

The show was excellent, even if the "fans" were rude, disrespectful, and downright got on my nerves. I hope J.D. continues making music and sharing it with us for many years to come. I will go see him every opportunity I can. I only hope his so-called "fans" show a little more respect at the next show. Artists work hard pouring their hearts and souls onto the page, the canvas, their instruments, to entertain us. If they wander from the norm a little bit, please indulge them. Please show some respect for what they do. So much of what they do is for us. We should give a little back to them to show our appreciation.

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