San Diego’s Prime Concert Venue is Humphrey’s – Hot Picks
Artists and fans of an excellent live music experience have come to know Humphrey’s as a prime destination. Nestled along the marina, the intimate outdoor setting is easily the most charming music venue between Santa Barbara and the Mexican border. When Richard Bartell bought the Half Moon Inn & Marina in 1984, he was unaware that a concert venue was part of the deal. Given the lack of stage or seating, his surprise was understandable.
From its humble beginnings to its current 1400 seating capacity, Humphrey’s has been home to myriad memorable concerts. This summer’s schedule is already in swing, and here are some can’t miss shows.
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Sunday July 17
This husband and wife team has been scorching stages across America. His tenure with the Allman Brothers and her fretwork prowess combine for some propulsive sets. This is superb music for fans either just discovering the twin leads of the Allman Brothers, or those that pine for the ‘locked-in’ sound that band attained.
Thursday, August 4
From humble beginnings as a progenitor of British progressive rock to global domination via stadium shows in the 1970s, this band has undergone various incarnations. Like many bands with such a prodigious legacy, they are currently touring with a portion of the band members from the band’s heyday. (I recently saw my favorite guilty pleasure Uriah Heep, and they are down to only the original guitar player). Steve Howe and Chris Squire are the current Yes backbone, supplemented by erstwhile drummer Alan White. In a page from the Journey guidebook, the current incarnation of Yes features a lead singer from a Yes tribute band, who also does a viable job replicating the vocals from the past. Look for tracks from their first new album in a decade (“Fly From Here”), from which preliminary tracks sound like a pleasant blast from the past. Certainly no humongous cheeseburger stage sets over the drummer on this tour.
Wednesday, August 17
Clearly one of the most underrated talents of the last few decades is this polymath. As an author and playwright he stands tall. His acting chops are persuasive, even when he lands in flop films (of which he had a few among the 40 under his belt). He rose to fame as a comedian, but oddly when he was at his height he was probably nowhere near as good as when he was coming up the ranks as a close-up magician, comedian and banjo player. He returns to the 5 string on this tour, having already garnered Grammy and critical acclaim with his band the Steep Canyon Rangers. A new single “Me and Paul Revere” was a hit in Washington DC on July 4th. It is doubtful that either Paul McCartney or the Dixie Chicks (guests on his chart topping bluegrass album) will venture south to San Diego, but this is an evening not to be missed. Try to listen to his self-narrated autobiography “Born Standing Up” before the gig for poignant background. Don’t expect long humorous monologues, but his between song patter should elicit many smiles.
Thursday, August 18
Credit Humphrey’s with booking this singer before her meteoric rise. When health problems postponed her Southern California dates, fans were distraught. Once the doctors gave her the thumbs up, it is sad but not surprising that her Humphrey’s gig was rescheduled for San Diego State’s Open Air Theater. Humphreys has arranged for ticket holders of the June 8 performance to receive priority seating at the Open Air Theater at the original ticket price. Given the larger size of the venue, additional tickets are being made available.
OMD/Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Sunday, October 9
A late addition to an already impressive calendar is this under-appreciated Brit band which rose to prominence in the 80s. Reveling in keyboards, original members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys drew from synth heavy German bands but quickly added a melodic touch that brought them to the attention of Manchester’s mad genius Tony Wilson and Factory Records. Tracks like “Electricity” and “Enola Gay” had originally been inspired by the experimental electronic music of German bands such as Kraftwerk and Neu. John Hughes’ penchant for vaulting bands to prominence in the 80s via his soundtracks helped OMD by his selection of “If You Leave.” Unlike many bands from the era recently attempting to revitalize their career, OMD’s music still works. No need to dust your thin tie for this show, and leave your parachute pants at home.