By STEVE SEYMOUR
Most people throw away their ticket stubs after a concert. After all, what good are they when the show is over? But, I think they make great souvenirs, so I save 'em.
I don't do anything drastic, like paste them into a scrapbook. I just toss the bits of ephemera into a drawer.
Collecting those stubs hasn't brought me any great wealth, although some old concert tickets can be worth more than a few dollars.
My collection, however, has confirmed for me exactly which concerts I have attended, as well as the venue, date and price of admission.
Knowing those facts can be very helpful when attempting to recall the details of the dozens of concerts I've seen over the years.
Take Gordon Lightfoot, for instance. He's appeared at Chip-In's Island Resort and Casino on several occasions. But, by looking at my ticket stub, I know I saw the Canadian balladeer on Saturday, May 4, 2002. Those facts take me right back to that day.
My wife Sue and I sat near the back of the theater, only because we bought our tickets at the last moment. I don't know why we waited to commit to see Lightfoot, because he put on a memorable performance. You may remember the folk singer and guitarist for his masterpiece, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Lightfoot's account of the sinking of the ore carrier in Lake Superior during a storm on Nov. 10, 1975, was for me the highlight of the evening. He wrote and recorded the tune in the months following the tragedy and watched it reach number 2 on the Billboard singles chart.
Any Upper Peninsula resident feels an affinity toward the song. But, to hear Lightfoot sing, "The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down...," from a stage here in the U. P. was especially poignant.
Another ticket stub from my stash recalled the premiere of "Escanaba in Da Moonlight," on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2000. Besides its comedic appeal and local scenery, the movie features an outstanding soundtrack, assembled by Alto Reed, sax man in Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band.
Besides Reed's compositions, the disc includes songs by Ted Nugent, Glenn Frey of the Eagles and Detroit Wheels guitarist Jim McCarty, Michigan natives all. Certainly, downtrodden Reuben Soady's antics were enhanced by "Escanaba Mama," "Deer Track Blues," "One More River" and "Comin' Down Hard." Fans shouldn't be surprised that Uncle Ted would contribute a song to a project about deer hunting, and it rocks with the best of the Motor City Madman's material.
Thumbing through my stack of old tickets, it's easy to compile a top ten list of the best rock concerts my wife Sue and I have been fortunate enough to witness.
The most impressive show we've attended is the legendary Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held at Cleveland Stadium on Sept. 2, 1995, which showcased dozens of pop music's greatest stars. Along with 65,000 other fans, we saw Chuck Berry, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Allman Brothers, Carole King, Heart, Eric Burdon, Little Richard, and many more.
Beyond that, my other favorite concerts include the Grateful Dead at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wis. on June 22, 1988; Ringo Starr at The Castle in Charlevoix on Aug. 20, 1989; Bob Dylan at Memorial Gardens in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, on Aug. 25, 1992; Pink Floyd at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on July 3, 1994; The Rolling Stones at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Sept. 9, 1994; John Fogerty at the House of Blues in Chicago on May 27, 1997; The Who at the Marcus Amiphitheater in Milwaukee on July 23, 1997; Paul McCartney at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Oct. 23, 2005; and Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, also at the Bradley Center, on Nov. 16, 2006.
Still, one of the coolest tickets in my collection was never used. The ducat would have admitted the bearer to a Led Zeppelin concert scheduled for Nov. 12, 1980, at Chicago Stadium.
In fact, a series of four November dates were announced by Led Zeppelin in an exclusive full page advertisement in the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 25, 1980. Tickets were to be offered only through mail order. At that point, the hard-rock quartet had not toured the United States in three years.
The day the ad ran, giving so much excitement to fans, was also the day John Bonham, Led Zeppelin's iconic drummer, died. The band, heart-broken, cancelled the Chicago dates and never toured again.
Music fans can accumulate records, backstage passes, guitar picks or t-shirts, but tickets cost nothing to collect, beyond their initial price. They don't take up much room and remain colorful mementos of the music you've enjoyed as a concert-goer.
Why don't you do what I do? Just toss the stubs in a drawer until you need a quick reminder of all the great concerts you've seen.