June is Black Music Month and usually kicks off my summer concert season. I started the month off with my favorite event: The Capital Jazz Festival. This year the event was more aggravating than in previous years. I didn’t attend last year because the line-up was ho hum. The line-up this year was stellar and that was made obvious by the fact that the event was sold out. I meant to go up to the box office the week before to obtain my tickets; however, I felt awful. Once upon a time, I could get tickets at an outlet in the next town over or at one of Merriweather Post Pavilion’s sister venues. However, that was not allowed and the online fees were expensive. The tickets were already $65 each day and there isn’t a two-day discounted package. The fees amounted to $15 each day. I just figured I would get my tickets at the venue. Wrong. It was sold out. I was Lost and Turned Out. Viva Les Whispers! I had to wait by the gate hoping someone would sell a ticket. I had my chair, tote and cooler and really struggled to make it to people yelling that they were selling tickets. I kept losing out. However, with patience (I suck at) and perseverance (I’m great at), I got into the concert.
First, the logistics were horrible. The Soul Stage, where we usually plant, was full of tents and immediately adjacent to the vendor area. There was no place to camp. We were forced to sit in the abundance of too many folding chairs all day. This was not comfortable. MPP made a huge error in two ways: placing the vendors near Soul Stage. The crowds could barely maneuver through to get from stage to stage or stage to bathroom. MPP also allowed too many tents to set up. People were extremely disheartened to discover that the uncomfortable folding chairs are the only option. You really cannot stretch your legs or easily place your cooler anywhere. They wouldn’t allow anyone to move the folding chairs.
Despite the terrible logistics, the artists were great. I was especially surprised by Babyface. He was funny, fun and in great voice. He sang his songs and a medley of songs he wrote for other people. Man, does he have a deep bench. I wish he would have sung songs from the 2000’s though, okay maybe just Face2Face. I loved that album. I’ve always loved The Whispers and wanted to see them in concert for years. Although, they are aging and not as agile as they once were, I experienced a group I adore, so I feel great about seeing them. Chaka Khan continues to elude me. Capital Jazz Fest has scheduled her twice and she has cancelled twice. Jeffrey Osborne took her place and he was okay. He actually has a song in my Top 50: We’re Going All The Way. And with my typical luck, he sang about four songs I didn’t know before hitting familiar tunes, none of which was the one song I like. Dammit. I feel like these artists plot against me. No, It Just Gets Better with Time from The Whispers either. Otherwise, the artists were awesome though I was pretty uncomfortable for two days.
Washingtonian published the 2013 free summer concert list. I was saddened to learn that my favorite venues for summer concerts – Carter Barron and Fort Dupont – have reduced schedules due to the Congress’s inability to do their jobs also known as sequestration. Carter Barron has two free concerts and no paid concerts. I am shocked about the paid concerts, I hoped that the money collected would cover the cost of an event. Granted tickets are usually around $25 but with 1,500 seats I thought we would be safe. Unfortunately, no. And the two free concerts are the Reggae and Blues nights, plus a few movies. Neither is my cup of tea. Fort Dupont serves as a showcase for the formerly successful. I have seen countless 70’s bands and the wonderful Roy Ayers at the park, all for the low, low price of free. This time Fort Dupont concerts feature local artists including the U.S. Army Band. I will admit that I am disappointed. While I hate interacting with the outdoors with such ridiculous things as hiking and canoeing, I submit to listening to music while sitting in the summer breeze. My big events this summer will be down to two—Summer Spirit Festival and, of course, the Legends of Summer Tour with Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake. Both are within a week of each other. I hope I can pepper in some more concerts this summer. Stay tuned!