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They say you never forget your first (concert): Sharing early memories of live music

Here & Now's new co-host Deepa Fernandes asked other staff members about their first concert experiences.(Grace Griffin/Here & Now)
Here & Now's new co-host Deepa Fernandes asked other staff members about their first concert experiences.(Grace Griffin/Here & Now)

My teenager is about to hit a huge milestone in her life: her first concert. I recently surprised Maya with tickets to see Harry Styles on his tour next month in Los Angeles as an early 14th birthday present. She squealed with glee while unwrapping the Styles poster I gave her to announce the news.

Deepa Fernandes’ daughter, Maya, dances to music. (Deepa Fernandes/Here & Now)

Hearing my daughter’s anticipation brings back so many of my own memories — My first concert was Prince, in a bathtub, at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia. I still can’t believe my parents let me go.

This trip down memory lane got me thinking: I’m the new person here at Here & Now, so what a good icebreaker it would be to ask my colleagues about their first concert experiences.

I start with Nathanial O. Stringfield, the first person who greets me at the reception desk of WBUR in Boston, the radio station where Here & Now is produced.

WBUR receptionist Nathaniel O. Stringfield

First concert: James Brown

Favorite song: “I Feel Good” 

Nathanial O. Stringfield: “My mother took me to see James Brown. Oh, it was unbelievable.”

Nathaniel O. Stringfield. (Grace Griffin/Here & Now)

Deepa Fernandes: “So, we’re going to get you to sing for us, Mr. Nathaniel, the mayor of WBUR. Can you give us a few James Brown lines?”

Stringfield: “Only when I come to work every day, ‘I feel good.’”

Fernandes: (singing) “Dee dee dee dee dee dee dee. I knew that I would.”

Stringfield: “That’s right. That’s what makes me go now is that ‘I feel good,’ especially getting through the pandemic here every bit of two years. When I was here, it was just that lonely. And I did not know how much that had an effect on me personally. And for me, it was a mild depression, not having people come through the door.”

Fernandes: “I got to say, the antidote to a mild depression is some James Brown.”

Stringfield: “Well, I kept that handy.”

Here & Now co-host Robin Young

Robin Young. (Grace Griffin/Here & Now)

First (rock) concert: The Beach Boys

Favorite song: “Don’t Worry Baby” 

Robin Young (on her first concert): “The Weavers at Carnegie Hall in New York when I was a little girl. And then my first rock concert, I went to a Beach Boys concert out on Long Island, and then I went to see Cream at Hunter College in New York.”

Here & Now associate producer Kalyani Saxena

First (and last) concert: Ed Sheeran

Favorite song: “Bloodstream”

Kalyani Saxena: “I’ve actually only been to one concert. This is my first and last. It was Ed Sheeran in 2015. His album, ‘X,’ had come out and I was living in Mumbai at the time and … most artists don’t come to Asia.”

Fernandes: “Okay, wait. I think I’m a little more interested in you living in Mumbai than I am in Ed Sheeran, but nonetheless.”

Kalyani Saxena. (Grace Griffin/Here & Now)

Saxena : “So I spent the first 10 years of my life in Georgia, the next eight in Mumbai, India, where I lived from ages 10 to 18. And then I came back here for school and I never left.”

Fernandes: “What was the best thing about Ed Sheeran?”

Saxena: “Honestly, the concert wasn’t even about Ed Sheeran. And I don’t know how much you know about Ed Sheeran’s music, but this is not the concert you would expect to be a rager. People were getting drunk, getting trashed. There was a girl in front of me who — and this is my lasting memory of the night — she fell to the ground. Apparently, this girl had an overdose in front of me, and I was 17 years old.”

Fernandes: “I have to say, my Indian parents would never have let me go to a concert.”

Saxena : “You know I had to beg and plead. And I went with my best friend and I was like, ‘Mom, it’ll be safe. I promise.’ And I mean, I didn’t overdose at that concert, so I think I kept that promise.”

Here & Now technical directors Mike Moschetto and Max Liebman

Mike Moschetto (left) and Max Liebman (right). (Grace Griffin/Here & Now)

First concerts: Smashing Pumpkins and Foozer (Foo Fighters and Weezer)

Favorite songs: “Jellybelly” by the Smashing Pumpkins and “Falling For You” by Weezer

Mike Moschetto: “My first concert was the Smashing Pumpkins in Providence, Rhode Island, at the Civic Center when I was all of 8 years old. September 1996.”

Fernandes: “8 years old?”

Moschetto: “I know. My parents had every opportunity to turn me off of the left-hand path toward debauchery, toward rock and roll. But they indulged me.”

Max Liebman: “The first one I can remember was a concert called Foozer, which was a double headliner of Weezer and The Foo Fighters. And my parents sent us alone to, at that time was, Continental Airlines Arena in the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Yeah. Good show.”

Fernandes: “And you were all of how old?”

Liebman: “12? 13, maybe.”

Fernandes: “Wow. So I’m about to take my daughter to her first concert in L.A., and she’s 13. Should I just put her on a Greyhound and send her herself?”

Liebman: “It was definitely an experience, and I’m glad my parents weren’t there.”

Here & Now executive producer Carline Watson

First concert: Bob Marley

Most memorable song from the show: “Trenchtown Rock” 

Carline Watson. (Carline Watson/Here & Now)

Carline Watson: “First concert: Bob Marley. Rainbow Theater. Finsbury Park. London.”

Fernandes: “Wow.”

Watson: “The backstory is all the time that I was growing up in Jamaica, my mother never would allow me to go to a Bob Marley concert because she thought that everybody’s going to be smoking weed.”

Fernandes: “Which they probably were.”

Watson: “I actually don’t recall people smoking a lot of weed at that 1977 concert. But what I do recall is that when the band started singing, I think it was ‘Trenchtown Rock,’ basically the whole audience just got on its feet and it was like a wave of people doing call and response with Bob Marley. It was amazing.”

Here & Now producer Shirley Jahad

Shirley Jahad. (Shirley Jahad/Here & Now)

First concert: Harry Belafonte

Favorite song: “Jump in the Line

Shirley Jahad:  “I was six years old when my mom took me to my first concert to see Harry Belafonte. We lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. So not a crowded cultural landscape. And I remember my mom and aunt just swooning over Harry Belafonte.

“And the story comes full circle because years later, my first public radio job at WBEZ Chicago. It was two in the morning, and the only two people at the station were me and the overnight beloved jazz host Larry Smith. And then Harry Belafonte calls to make a pledge. I put him on the air with Larry. He loves him so much. He calls up his best friend, Sidney Poitier. Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier and Larry Smith start laughing and talking jazz and joking around. It was a supreme treat for anyone up in the middle of the night listening to live radio in Chicago.”

What are your memories of your first concert? Tweet us @hereandnow or send a message to letters@hereandnow.org.


Ashley Locke produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Locke also adapted it for web. 

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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