041790 George Thorogood, Ottawa, ON

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By the end of my first year of university I was still just getting used to the spike in entertainment options offered to me in a city like Ottawa as compared to the sparse concert life that I led during my years in Moncton.  This was before Ottawa built a hockey arena big enough to start drawing all those major players on their way between shows in Montreal and Toronto so the concert scene was still somewhat limited at the time, but in a relative sense it was an explosion of shows that I couldn’t bring myself to miss out on.

Case in point: George Thorogood playing at the Congress Centre on April 17th, 1990.  Even though this show was scheduled to take place the night before my first year music performance jury I just couldn’t not go.  Even though I would have to encapsulate a year’s worth of practise and near-discipline into a fifteen-minute classical guitar performance in front of a panel of stone-faced professors at 8:30 the next morning, and even though scoring anything less than a B+ on said performance exam would see me kicked out of the music program I just couldn’t pass up a chance to see the whiskey-swilling, guitar chugging, gravel-voiced blues appropriating George Thorogood live, so I bought a ticket.

How was I to know that I’d have numerous opportunities to see him in the future, and that one show would be as good as the rest (which was actually pretty good)?

I went at it pretty hard too; in fact this was the first concert I ever arrived late for.  And I had a whole lot of fun.  Thorogood encouraged us all to drink up, dumb down and have a good time, both in song and in banter.  I complied to the best of my affordability in the carpeted banquet hall and enjoyed myself fully.  He raged his hits (which are mostly the hits of others), all in open G and all punctuated by gritty slide guitar and squawky barroom saxophone and I, still unspoiled in the knowledge and joy of truly great music, kept my arms raised in delight throughout.

And you know what?  I did a pretty great job on my guitar jury the next day; I think I got a B+.

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