Perfectly Imperfect: Michael Nesmith & the First National Band Redux

I started blogging in 2013.  I blogged because I had been to a concert that so moved me that I HAD to share it.  I  HAD to write down the experience; even if there hadn't been an internet I would have done it.  But there was and so I shared my experience online and thus began Bfth's Boring Blog.

Here is that first post:
Photo from April 2013 concert
Not the greatest piece of writing; not even my best post, but it started me on this path.  It was because of this event that I got on this track. I have always been a writer, for better or for worse.  Michael Nesmith's concert back in 2013 was the catalyst that started me writing regularly.  For that I am eternally grateful.

Five years later (give or take), he took his newly re-formed band, The First National Band Redux (which includes sons Christian and Jonathan) out for a spin in California.  This resulted in the phenomenal album, Live At the Troubadour.  (More on that album and my plan NOT to see him in concert:

Then he was out on the road with former bandmate and fellow Monkee, Micky Dolenz.  It was during that tour that he suffered congestive heart failure (NOT a heart attack) and the tour was postponed while Nez  (Since everyone else calls him that, I think I'm good here) went back to California and underwent quadruple bypass surgery.  That was in late June.

Yet by early September he was on the road again with The First National Band Redux.  Seriously?  On the road again after OPEN HEART surgery?   Really?  REALLY!  September 7th  Nez and the band were in Houston with 11 more dates scheduled throughout the month, ending on the 23rd in Connecticut.  They WERE going to be in my area, sort of, but the stars didn't seem to be aligning for me.  I was okay with that.  After all, I'd seen him twice already; I consider myself pretty lucky.

But then friends started posting about the shows.  I had been following some of the band members on social media.  They seemed to be having so much fun.  (I don't think they were lying.)  There were photos.  There were jubilant tales.  I started thinking, maybe I should do something about this....

But how?  I missed my chance on Thursday night in NYC.  That left only 2 shows.  Phoenixville, PA on Saturday night (2 hour drive) and the final show of the tour, Ridgefield, CT on Sunday night.  There were tickets to be had and I was leaning towards Sunday.  I could do an hour and a half ride up, see the show and drive back in a night.  Sure it would be pushing it, but I COULD do it.  There was only one problem:  my son.  Though old enough to stay by himself, I did not feel comfortable leaving him home alone for so long at night, especially when he had school the next day. (An early morning at that...and since we had taken him out the previous Friday for a trip to Cape May missing another day would be a no no.)  HE wanted to stay home. HE said he could handle locking up and going to bed.  I am sure that HE could; I was not sure I could (as a semi-responsible parent) let him do that.

After much debate and some searching for a solution, it came to me in a text.  A friend, who is old enough to be a responsible adult, but YOUNG enough to not bat an eye when I said we would not be home until around midnight, said she would be happy to come by around 9 PM and hang out.  (NOT babysit!  This is what every parent of a tween/teen needs.  A responsible person who will just come over and hang out; watch tv, play video games, or whatever for peace of mind. )  With approximately 24 hours to show time, I made our ticket purchase on line...getting 4th row center no less!  (Better seats, in my opinion, than Micky Dolenz who attended the show and sat several rows back from us.)

Sunday flew by as I made sure the boy was ready for school the next day, that the car was gassed up etc.  When I saw on Google that there was an accident on 287, I pushed up our departure time by 10 minutes.  Which was a good decision as the slow down on 287 started the second we got on until after we got over the TAPPAN ZEE Bridge (yes, I'm one of those...) and onto the Saw Mill River Parkway...But who really cares about that?  Time to get down to brass tacks:  The Concert.

AMAZING in a word.  In two words:  Perfectly Imperfect.  What the hell does that mean?  Unlike some shows where every second is scripted and synchronized, Nez and the First National Band are real.  The show is an EXPERIENCE and the show I saw on Sunday night was different than the one performed on Saturday night.  The shell/structure might be the same and the songs MOSTLY the same, but this is NOT a canned performance.  This is LIVE.  This is REAL.  And like life it has its imperfections, which for me makes it absolutely PERFECT.  This group of musicians:  Christopher Allis, Jason Chesney,  Alex Jules, Pete Finney, Jonathan Nesmith, Christian Nesmith, Circe Link,  Amy Spear AND Michael Nesmith; they are a tight knit unbelievably talented group that so obviously supports and cares for one another.  They pull together a unique show, while looking out for each other and having fun.  Or at least that's my take away after seeing them.

Seeing this extraordinary group live definitely adds to the experience.  While I LOVE the Live At The Troubadour, I don't think I fully understood and appreciated the complexities of the show until I sat in the 4th row and watched the magic unfold on the stage.  From "Nevada Fighter" all the way to the inevitable "Thanx For The Ride," it was impossible to stay silent in my seat.  I don't know about anyone else in the audience (because I was laser focused on the stage), but I was moving and shaking in my seat.  How could I NOT with such incredible songs as "Calico Girlfriend," "Dedicated Friend," "Tengo Amore" (my ALL time favorite and THANK YOU for putting it back in the rotation) and "Bye, Bye, Bye" (thank you guys at The Ancient Mariner for requesting this...I KNOW you had the time of your lives that night.)  And there were more reflective moments in "Joanne" (how could anyone NOT know it was a sad song?), "Propinquity" (another favorite; there may have been some tears on my part), "Rene" and "Some of Shelley's Blues."  There may have been some slight bumps along the road (a few missing lines in "Grand Ennui"), it really DIDN'T matter. (I will NEVER underestimate the musical prowess of Christian Nesmith!  He really knows how to keep it all together and the music on track...and perhaps there is also a bit of being the oldest child and taking care of things...something that I can very much relate to!)  Any hiccups made the performance more truthful.

Speaking of truthful, Nez may be known for his songwriting, but also for his storytelling.  His first "short" story of the night spanned over ten minutes. But it was not some boring tale or over-the top story. It is a conversation that you become part of, even though you don't speak.  He takes the everyday common place activity of going out for dinner and transforms it into something that your best friend might share...and gives you hope that there IS humanity left in this world.

If I were going to sum it up in one word in it would be COMFORTABLE and/or COMFORTING (that's two words...oh well...).  The music and the musicians create a space that is warm and familiar.  It is impossible to not move to the beat, sing along and just feel so darned good during the upbeat songs and to be moved and feel the emotion behind the slower/sadder ones.  In a world that is all too frightening and angry, this was an evening of fun. (Dare I say GOOD CLEAN FUN? ;)  )  It was an evening where you forgot everything BUT the music as you were carried away with it.  The only way it could have been better was if it had taken place in my living room so that I could have gotten up to dance (because I REALLY WANTED to...I mean do you know how hard it was to stay in my seat during "Tengo Amore?") when the music called for it and curled up on my sofa with a comfortable blanket while Nez spoke of his experiences.  (And had the tissues at hand for when I needed them.)

I am SO glad that I was impulsive and went to the final concert.  My heart feels lighter and even though it is gray and rainy outside as I type these words, I feel GOOD.   The band, the music, the stories; they are a tonic to soothe what needs healing in your life. I think we all NEED a little Michael Nesmith and the First National Band Redux in our lives.  They make the world a better place.

And so I say with a bittersweet smile on my lips to Christopher Allis, Jason Chesney, Alex Jules, Pete Finney, Jonathan Nesmith, Christian Nesmith, Circe Link, Amy Spear and Michael Nesmith:  Thanx for the Ride.

He strolls off into the sunset...


  1. I can relate to almost everything you said from my own experiences seeing them in Alexandria, VA and Phoenixville, PA. Six days apart and two different shows.
    I am overjoyed that you and Steve were able to go.
    I just hope it's not the last time...

  2. What a touching review, Beth! I saw him twice when he was touring solo, and was fortunate enough to meet him after one of those shows. He’s a pioneer and a visionary, and it’s always a memorable experience seeing him live in concert. Thank you for sharing your evening with us! This is Kit, btw—just noticed my full name doesn’t appear above. 🙂


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