My friend Stephen Kellogg and I used to like to think up funny album titles; I always thought Opening Act would be great, perhaps because that seemed to be perpetually my role in the 2000s. No complaints here; I opened for lots of great people, especially at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA. Here’s a list, and what I remember of them, in no particular order, and no idea what year they happened.
The Innocence Mission: (fuzzy old cell phone photo at left) Total life highlight. I had long been a fan and still am, and they tour so infrequently, this was an incredible experience.
Hayden: Another great artist I had long been a fan of; a handsome raspy Canadian songwriter with a cool stage setup.
Harper Simon: Paul Simon’s son. At the time I didn’t know about him. Something fun was that he asked me to play guitar on his last song, a cover of Nick Drake’s “From the Morning” (one of my favorite songs). Listen to it below; I’m on electric guitar, playing his clean white Stratocaster; at about 2:46, they nod to me to take a solo; it lasts until about 3:30. He had a great band, and we really locked in together.
Hot House Flowers: Oh boy this was a good one. I noticed the show didn’t have an opener a couple days ahead, got in touch with the Iron Horse, and they said sure, come open. I’ll never forget: I’m standing there and in walk these three tall, mysterious Irishmen with long coats and serious faces. They were lovely to me and I often listen to “Give it Up” to get feeling good.
Angus & Julia Stone: Admittedly, the inspiration for this post; I just heard that song you’ve heard in 100 movies, “gonna take you for a ride in a big jet plane….” I combine this memory with opening for Dean & Britta, in that I don’t remember them well, but remember they were all very nice and made nice music.
Mike Doughty: This was one of Spanish For Hitchhiking’s first real gigs; in fact I think we were called something else that night; The Hart Cranes maybe. It was that night we decided on our band’s name, in fact. It was 2001, and I was still a senior in college. I was in “chunky (black) shoes,” suit pants, and a white button down shirt. Hair (and voice) at full Morrissey. Doughty was solo, acoustic, and amazing. I still listen to him all the time.
In 2013, my friend and SFH/WP bandmate Max sent a Facebook message to Black Francis of the Pixies, who lives near us. We hung out, recorded a cover song with him, and then I opened for him solo in Burlington, VT and Cambridge, MA.
Anyway. There have been more; The Waifs, Crooked Teeth, Loney Dear, Matt Pond PA, local friends, openers with SFH and Winterpills; I remember them all with gratitude.