Stephen Stills made a concert stop at the Fox theatre in Tucson, AZ, June 3, 2014. Stephen Stills is best known as a member of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young sometimes). His career has spanned well over 50 years. He became the first person to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice in the same night for his work with Buffalo Springfield and CSN.
The mood of the show was set with Stills’ parody of a Bob Dylan performance and the levity continued throughout the show. He was there to have fun and so was the audience. The concert was divided into two sets. The first set was predominantly acoustic. His fingerpicking was at its peak. He introduced “Johnny’s Garden” with the revelation that it was a tribute to his English gardener who had offered him some of his “special herbal tea” to help the guitarist stabilize while tripping on LSD. As a result, Stills was able to write 20 songs, but he later discovered he had scribbled them all on a sheet of ice: “The paper melted!” This tune was the only one that survived.
“Just so you know, I am not unaware of where I am in this reddest of red states. This is for all you guys who don’t believe in safety nets.” He then performed “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” another Bob Dylan cover. “The reason I am doing so many covers is I get sick of me!” The set culminated with “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”
The second set was electric based music and a much stronger set. Veteran CSN band members joined Stephen on stage: Kevin McCormick (bass) and Todd Caldwell (organ). Mario Calire was on drums. The first set warm up was over and Stephen came out punching! The music covered blues, rock, gospel and folk. Stills continued to tell stories about his early days in show business. One was about doing stupid things with his money. Early on he bought his mother a house and he bought himself a Ferrari. He was stopped by a policeman, ‘I’m sorry sir, you were doing 11 miles per hour. . . in a Ferrari. I’m sure your mechanic would love to keep replacing first gear. I couldn’t believe it and I kept following you for a while. You never changed gears. Stills responded ‘my amp goes to eleven.” The cop: ‘have you been drinking sir? Blow into this. You see, sir, not only are you driving eleven, but you are on the freeway. You see that truck, he’s going about 80 and I’m going to hang on to your car. The policeman let him go. This was the intro to “Treetop Flyer.”
The stories kept coming and so did the music. The show went overtime an hour to the delight of the audience. The audience sang background for some of the songs. The Stills’ vocals may have been strained at times, but his guitar playing was top notch all the way. This was the last show of the tour. For a complete set list, click here. For more information on Stephen Stills’ career, click here.