Ah, what to wear to an outdoor concert, a Van Morrison concert, at night, on my birthday (Iāll not mention which one)? I know there are larger questions to ponder, important matters concerning, politics, health, and the future of the planet, or at least what may now go and not go into the recycling bin, but for this special evening I need to focus my diminishing mental faculties on the pressing problem of wardrobe.
In the old days I might choose some go-go boots, a mini skirt and a psychedelic, see-through blouse in which to groove the night away but times have changed. Now I must design my current ensemble in true Boomer style, beginning with the consideration of, dare I say it, ācomfortable shoes.ā No more for me the strappy sexy sandal, the classic red spike heel, the pink patent leather mule, the pointy toed glitter boot. But donāt get me wrong they are still there waiting in the back of the closet, in case I have a shoe epiphany or a final farewell party to āThe Shoes That I Once Wore.ā
The day of the concert finds the temperature in Topanga hovering around 100 degrees. We will be going to the Santa Barbara Bowl, where it is bound to be cooler but probably not cool enough for the faux leopard print coat I had planned to wear. Iāll have to go a different direction. I drag out a variety of gay apparel all chosen to work in conjunction with what I deem a cool pair of comfortable sneakers: lace-up Billabong, orange and zebra stripe. After a great deal of effort in and out of clothing, rejects piling up on the bed and suffering the indignity of getting stuck with a dress half over my head and calling out loud āhelpā as I flailed about, I put together an outfit. It could, perhaps be construed as some kind of vogue look, even though Iām mixing several different decades and topping it all off with a sunflower wreath crown, as a nod to the ā60s. It is, after all, my birthday and shouldnāt a bold fashion statement always border a bit on the ridiculous? Thatās the fun of it!
The Beleaguered Husband is equally colorful in a vibrant patterned sweater and striped straw hat. Weāre ready to rock or maybe trick-or-treat, costumed as old people trying to look hip. Bless our aged hearts.
The drive up to Santa Barbara is surprisingly smooth and the radio is playing a segment titled, āMusic by Bands That Made the Sunset Strip.ā How appropriate! And I think back to seeing those bands; Buffalo Springfield, The Doors, The Seeds, The Byrds, and the absolutely fabulous, incredible, Arthur Lee and Love. We used to see them all and I recall those concerts of old, beginning with the Beatles and including, The Jefferson Airplane, Eric Burdon and the Animals, the Rolling Stones, Kinks and a little something called, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Those were the sounds of our youth, the background music to our young and hopeful lives, whether youāre failing algebra or falling in early love. Those songs soared and seared solidly, soulfully and oh so splendidly into our psyche. They were a gift and hearing them again is enough to make you break down and cry.
In those days of golden yore, it wasnāt always easy to pay for concert tickets. Our allowances could only go so far. Sometimes we had to get, shall we say, creative. I recall going backstage at the Hollywood Bowl and explaining to the guy at the door, that a photographer from Rolling Stone, one Micky Glass, (made-up name), was supposed to have left us tickets. We ended up in box seats seeing The Animals. At the Shrine Auditorium Cindyās brother bought a ticket, went inside, then collected discarded ticket stubs from the floor and threw them down to us from an upstairs window so we could show them to the doorman explaining that weād already been in and just stepped outside for a few minutes. It worked. The same resourceful brother, a talented artist, actually forged tickets by hand, which looked enough like the real thing to gain us entrance to the Hollywood Palladium. And in those heady intrepid days we werenāt above scooting under or over a fence, even in a mini skirt, or slipping through an unattended back door.
Fortunately, in 2021, the expensive, out-of-our-price-range tickets to see Van Morrison are a gift from a generous dear friend, so no sneaky shenanigans are required. Makes me wonder if Iāve still got the touch? I like to think so, but with the advance of my age and technology best I walk a straight line.
Our friend lives rather close to the SB Bowl so the plan is to walk, hence the comfortable shoes. We are in the midst of the crowd, friendly group, casual, well shod and pleased to be out in the magic of the early autumn of a Santa Barbara evening which casts its own spell. Even the ushers are smiling, allowing my husband to carry in his plastic cup of wine and I get my first, but not last comment, āI like your outfit!ā
I admit to being a bit daunted by all the steps leading up to our aisle but considered us lucky to be in aisle I instead of T or X. Stars are out and after the opening act of legendary American Bluesman, Taj Mahal, who still produces music that gets inside of you and lifts you up, the Belfast Cowboy himself takes the stage.
There he stands, Van The Man, in a cool suit which seemed to change color under the lights as the night progressed, from blue to white to yellow, wearing sunglasses and his trademark fedora.
And, oh Van, I am every bit nothing but a gushing girl, belying my age, awed and agape at your power, that old deep voice clear in the night air, lilting and resounding from your Celtic heart, and shaking us to our very gypsy souls. Thank-you for your cool saxophone, harmonica, rock-and-roll, blues, soul, mystic cosmic spirit and putting a smile on the face of the man sitting next to me who suddenly didnāt look so beleaguered anymore
We leave lightened, on that October night, sort of stunned, both younger and older, and I feel I could walk a long way.
Happy Birthday to me!
To appropriately attend her birthday gift of tickets to a Van Morrison concert, Kathie Gibboney designed her attireāa Vogue mix of several different decades topped off with a sunflower wreath crown, as a nod to the ā60sāaround a cool pair of comfortable orange-and-zebra-striped-lace-up Billabong sneakers.