When I started this job, one of my predecessors advised me: “It’s a blast at first, but after three or four years, you’ll start to get burned out.”
She was half correct. I became The Star’s pop music writer in November 1996. Twenty years later it is still a blast (most of the time), and burnout seems unlikely.
The privilege of covering the music scene and community in Kansas City has rewarded me with plenty of memories and opportunities. Here are some that stand out.
Some favorite shows, in no certain order
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Paul McCartney at the Sprint Center (July 2010); Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Sprint Center (November 2012); Prince at Kemper Arena (January 1998 and May 2004); David Bowie at Starlight Theatre (May 2004); the Rolling Stones at Arrowhead Stadium (July 2015).
Glen Campbell at the Uptown Theater (April 2012); Robert Plant and Alison Krauss/Raising Sand at Starlight Theatre (September 2008); The Roots at the VooDoo (March 2007); Sigur Ros at the Uptown Theater (February 2006); the Pixies at the Uptown Theater (October 2004); David Byrne at Memorial Hall (August 2001); Bob Dylan at the Uptown Theater (October 2002).
Dolly Parton at the Sprint Center (July 2016); Stevie Wonder at the Sprint Center (October 2015 — the night the Royals won the pennant); Foo Fighters at Memorial Hall (March 1996); Coldplay at Memorial Hall (February 2003); the White Stripes at Memorial Hall (June 2003); Leonard Cohen at the Midland (November 2009); Garth Brooks at the Sprint Center (Nov. 10, 2007)
Some of the many musicians I have interviewed
David Bowie; Robert Plant; Mick Jagger; Lou Reed; Ray Davies; Willie Nelson; Merle Haggard; Ray Charles; James Brown; Aretha Franklin; Loretta Lynn; Smokey Robinson; Johnny Mathis; Yoko Ono; Tony Bennett.
Steven Van Zandt; Nils Lofgren; Lyle Lovett; Stewart Copeland; Tim McGraw; Kenny Chesney; Rod Stewart; Ian Astbury; Bob Mould; James Hetfield; Alison Krauss; T Bone Burnett.
Norah Jones; Lily Tomlin; Barry Manilow; Michael Gira; Ralf Hütter; Ian Anderson; Neko Case; Ed Sheeran; Busta Rhymes; Steve Earle; Toby Keith; Lindsey Buckingham; Paul Collins; David Gray; Ricky Skaggs; Simon Le Bon
Two transforming events
Garth Brooks’ occupation of the Sprint Center: In November 2007, he performed nine shows in 10 nights — from Monday, Nov. 5, through Wednesday, Nov. 14. We covered all of them. Brooks shuffled the set lists, but the shows were essentially the same.
The opening-night show was jubilant, and each show after that was incrementally more joyous and raucous, culminating with the Saturday, Nov. 10, show, the sixth in six days, which was volcanically euphoric and the most emotional of all nine.
After that, I hit a wall and slipped into a “Groundhog Day” fog. The three final shows were somewhat anti-climactic, especially the final show, which was broadcast for an HBO special and was thus choreographed and under the control of directors and producers. It was also the only show that didn’t include an opening set from Trisha Yearwood, Brooks’ wife. I went through a postpartum withdrawal that lasted about a week.
David Cook becomes king of “American Idol”: For about three years, I blogged about “American Idol,” which at the time was a prime-time TV juggernaut. As the 2008 season progressed, David Cook, a Blue Springs native, emerged as a front-runner, and instead of quick ruminations on what happened each week, the responsibility turned into something bigger and more time-consuming.
In May 2008, I flew to Hollywood to watch and report on the finals, which he won. It ended up being a four-month odyssey that extracted an emotional investment for which I wasn’t prepared. Having spoken to Cook a few times and met his parents, I was genuinely happy and proud for him when he won. As I wrote: “It felt like watching my daughter score a goal in soccer.”