I have enjoyed an app on my iPhone for several years, but haven’t written about it here. I have no financial interest in it whatsoever, but I’m a fan, so I’m recommending it to you.
The app and site used to be called Wolfgang’s Vault — named not after Mozart, but after Bill Graham, who was given that nickname as a boy by his family in Germany. Graham eventually became one of America’s greatest concert promoters, booking the biggest acts in the world as well as important up-and-comers at his venues — the Fillmore West in San Francisco, the Fillmore East in New York, and Winterland. He was the man behind the Watkins Glen concert in 1973 (at the time, the largest concert ever held, with a paying crowd of 600,000). Graham promoted the Rolling Stones world tours in 1981-2. He handled the American end of Live Aid in 1986. The list goes on and on.
From 1965 to 1999, his company, Bill Graham Presents, recorded almost every concert they promoted, and it’s those recordings that became the basis for Wolfgang’s Vault. Since then, a dozen other collections — including the classic King Biscuit Flower Hour radio concert series — have been added, expanding the roster to include blues, jazz, folk, bluegrass, and country performers at venues all over the world, as well as interviews and concert videos. The app and site have been renamed simply Concert Vault.
Having access to all that historic live music is pretty cool and helps me pass a lot of time on the treadmill. In the last few days, I’ve listened to:
- Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark of The Byrds at the Bottom Line in 1978;
- The Who at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1982;
- Stray Cats at Metro in Boston in 1982;
- The Kinks at The Orpheum in Boston in 1972;
- The Fabulous Thunderbirds in Austin in 1987, with guest appearances by Bonnie Raitt and Robert Cray.