Ticket Stub: Please Take Your Seats, The Program Is About to Begin

Written by Music, Ticket Stub

In the beginning of a new Popdose series, Matt Wardlaw pays a visit to Wolfgang’s Vault and gets more than he bargained for.

Greetings and welcome to a new series here on Popdose, cleverly titled (we think) Ticket Stub. In the past few months since Wolfgang’s Vault beefed up the amount of shows that they have online for streaming and purchase, we’ve been listening to a lot of the shows, and comparing notes via email and Twitter, discussing our favorite moments. These frequent discussions spawned the idea to feature a new show from the Vault here each week.

But I had further questions, so a trip to New York City was arranged to give me some time to hang out with Pete, the archivist at the Manhattan location of the massive Wolfgang tape archive. After some brief chit-chat, Pete took me back to show me the archive, walking me into the vast rooms full of tapes.  As he brought me inside the temperature cooled tape archive (read: kinda cold) my eyes immediately began to scan the walls and walls of neatly labeled tape boxes. Decades of shows from my favorite artists were right at my fingertips, and I looked back to comment to Pete about an Alice Cooper show that I had spotted, only to discover that Pete wasn’t there. It seems that good ol’ Pete had worked up a bit of a prank with Popdose editor-in-chief Jeff Giles – that centered around the idea of locking me in the tape archive, in the hopes that I might get a bit of a scare out of the whole experience. Which I was fine with, because I had my own prank in mind to return fire – I reached quietly into my pocket for my cell phone, and placed a call to Wolfgang’s Vault COO Eric Johnson, and suggested that it might be funny to yank Pete’s vacation days for 2010 – you know, just for fun?

Johnson chuckled on the other end of the phone, and assured me that he’d be placing a call shortly to Pete to plant that fun seed, and suggested that as long as I was locked in the tape archive, I should probably take a look around, something which I heartily agreed that I’d have no problem doing. As we were wrapping up the conversation, I had to ask Johnson a question that had been burning in my mind for a while – how the heck do you play that “Cliffs of Dover” song? Here’s where things get kind of embarrassing – it turns out that although he has the same name, he is not the same Eric Johnson that most people know as the soft spoken guitar player from Austin, TX. How humilating. Faster than you could say Ah Via Musicom, Johnson cordially bid me a good afternoon, and he was off of the phone. Some things are better left unsaid – man, Daryl Hall was so right.

As I put the cell phone back in my pocket and began to walk around, my head was spinning, just looking at all of the shows on the shelves. Where to begin? An hour and a half with Miss Bonnie Raitt in Minneapolis, circa-The Glow seems like a fine place to me. Since it was July, chances are that it was hot as hell in Minneapolis, but does that really matter when you have Bonnie on stage, cookin’ through “Three Time Loser?” I think not.

Go to Wolfgang’s Vault

Wolfgang’s Vault was tailor-made for time travel moments like for instance, a chance to take a day trip to Detroit to spend the evening in the Motor City, hanging with the Rolling Stones, who happened to be playing a pretty intimate gig at the Masonic Hall on the night that I caught up with them in 1978. Shadoobie, my brains were definitely battered just looking at the tapes for this show. You could practically hear Mick and Keef arguing backstage, just looking at the box. I started looking around the tape archive for a reel-to-reel player to sample this bad boy, and not seeing one in view, I decided to push on, and continue browsing through the tapes. Biting into another freshly opened beef jerky, I wondered if Pete would be mad that I was eating his entire 50 count box of Slim Jims? “It serves him right, for leaving me in here,” I found myself muttering as I walked towards another wall of tapes.

“Holy crap, will you look at all of the Ambrosia in here?” Ten, count ’em, TEN shows from the Los Angeles group occupied what seemed like nearly an entire wall. Keep in mind, that there are multiple tapes for most of these shows, so there were so many tape boxes dedicated to purely Ambrosia, that I began to get concerned. “Has anyone seen David Pack since 1980?” I bellowed with clear concern for the former Ambrosia lead vocalist. At this point, the tape archive door burst open, and Pete was visibly worried.

“What’s going on in here?”

“Nothing, I was just admiring the many Ambrosia concerts that you have here in the Vault.”

“I heard yelling.”

“Hmmm, weird. I guess it could have been one of the interns – you have interns, right?”

“No, just me and the tapes, that’s all that there is here. Hey, do you want to grab a beer?”

While I wanted to lash out at Pete for locking me in the tape archive, the truth was, I’d had quite a bit of fun, looking through the shows in the Vault. I finally had my angle for the weekly series here at Popdose, and a true appreciation for the many musical riches that lurk within. In the coming weeks, we’ll explore them together, show by show, one city at a time.