The James Taylor Tanglewood Experience
Going to James Taylor at Tanglewood in Lenox is sort of a given for Berkshire residents. It’s almost a right of passage. However, believe it or not, it’s something that I have never done until this July 4th. It’s hard to fathom that, being the musician and music fan that I am, that I haven’t taken in the James Taylor Tanglewood experience in the more than 30 years that I have lived here in the Berkshires. That’s almost as long as Taylor has been performing at Tanglewood.
I have a few take-aways from the show that I think you will find interesting.
The first thing is the music itself. Taylor has had hit after hit over his long music career and he certainly didn’t disappoint in getting almost all of his biggest ones in over the course of the evening. I found him to be such a professional on stage, making sure to introduce and say something nice about all the musicians he had on stage with him. And what a band he had put together. Many of the players were part of The Steve Gadd band, which is about to embark apparently on a European tour. The coolest surprise for me of the evening was to learn that “Blue Lou” Marini was his guy on Saxophone. If you are a fan of the Blues brothers, that name should ring a bell.
The atmosphere is something that is tough to beat. When you go to a concert its usually a given that you want to be able to see the musicians on the stage. However, if you are seated on the lawn, you can’t really see the stage all that well. Now, there are huge screens all around the shed, but if you not looking at them, its hard to tell who is who on the distant stage. This however shouldn’t be a deal breaker for you. In fact, I am going to suggest for anyone who has never been to see James Taylor at Tanglewood, get yourself some lawn seats. The scene there is something that has to be experienced to appreciate. My wife and I packed some sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and a bottle of wine – and brought a couple of blankets and a pair of lawn chairs. We thought that was enough to hall up the hill from the Lions Gate parking area. Well, we came to find that people were dragging wagons, setting up tables of various sizes and some even had small tents. One group of people actually had a large table with a fancy tablecloth and a pair of candelabras. It was actually a violation if the open flame policy, but it looked pretty cool, so I didn’t feel compelled to blow the whistle.
My final observation was that getting out of the parking lot is a mess. There are police and parking attendants at the gates to guide you out, but other than that, your pretty much on your own. The traffic is bumper to bumper and it’s a long wait. So… if you take in this experience, have a little patience. It will go a long way.
Oh, and if you have never watched the fireworks over Stockbridge Bowl, your missing a spectacular show, but that is a topic for another time.