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In Which I Poach On Scott’s Popular Music Beat

Much of what I know about music I learned from Scott, so I am reluctant to intrude on his popular music territory. Still: what the heck, why not? What is popular music for, if not to empower every ill-informed listener to have an opinion? So here goes.

I had never heard of Gavin DeGraw until a couple of months ago when he played a concert at Gustavus Adolphus College, from which my oldest daughter graduated last year. She drove down to St. Peter with some friends to take in the concert. I didn’t hear of him again until a week or two ago, when my wife and I and a couple of our kids were eating dinner on our deck and saw that DeGraw was about to perform at the Minnesota Zoo, along with Colbie Caillat. Needless to say, I had never heard of Miss Caillat either; nevertheless, we went online and bought tickets to the sold-out concert on StubHub.

So last Wednesday night, my wife, my son, my youngest daughter and I drove the short distance to the Zoo’s amphitheater to take in the concert. A preface: my house is a very near the Minnesota Zoo as the crow flies, so that if we sit on our front steps during the summer, we can hear concerts in progress, along with wolves, lions, etc. The Zoo’s amphitheater must be one of the best live music venues anywhere. It seats 1,500 or so people, and all of the seats are good. The sound quality is sensational.

So we heard Gavin DeGraw, who was, we all thought, great. He is an excellent singer and songwriter, and a terrific front man. If you have an opportunity to see him perform, you should go. Here he is, playing the piano and singing during Wednesday’s concert:

The guy was really good. If you want to get an idea of his music, here he is singing his hit “Not Over You.” I would only add that the video does not fully convey what a fun performer he is, live.

Colbie Caillat followed Mr. DeGraw after an interlude of a half hour or so. She was good, too; she writes songs in what I think of as a Euro-pop style, which I tend to like. But by the time she started to perform, the sun had gone down and the only lights in the area were those that focused on the stage. No big deal, you say? Ah, but this is the Midwest, and when the sun goes down the bugs come out. Miss Caillat was freaked out by the bugs that she saw in the cone of light that followed her wherever she went on the stage. She interrupted her performance several times to talk about the bugs, including one occasion when she explained that she and DeGraw had played in Pittsburgh a week or two earlier, and she had been attacked by mayflies.

Now, if you are familiar with mayflies you know that they do not “attack.” They are nowhere near that smart. They do, however, appear out of nowhere and swarm anyone in the vicinity. This is a video of Miss Caillat’s appearance in Pittsburgh, when the mayflies appeared:

Wednesday’s performance was something like that. What I couldn’t figure out was why the bugs were suddenly a problem. The Zoo puts on concerts three nights a week or so through the summer; we have been to a number of them over the years. Bugs have never been a show-stopper before. Why now? Was it something unique about Miss Caillat’s lights? Or is she just a wimp?

My suspicious run toward the latter explanation, but we liked her anyway. Here is a bug-free rendition of her hit song “Bubbly;” I believe it is the official video:

And this is a photo I took of her performing Wednesday night:

Miss Caillat is good, but I am guessing a bit of a handful. You may want to be sure that you see her indoors, preferably in the winter.

Scott, over to you.

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