A tribute to nostalgia

My boss and I saw the Dark Star Orchestra channel the Grateful Dead the other night. He’d seen a Pink Floyd tribute band earlier in the year with his brother-in-law, who racks up 20 or 30 such concerts a year.

My wife and I had just attended a concert by the three remaining members of the Moody Blues. In the summer we’d watched Ringo wow the audience at Woodstock and, before that, seen a smattering of old-timers try to resurrect icons of the 1960s—the Yardbirds, Zombies and the Spencer Davis Group.

Now we’re looking forward to the upcoming season. Several legends of pop are scheduled to appear this winter at the Van Wezel Center, including Paul Anka, the Fifth Dimension, the Beach Boys, the Temptations with the Four Tops and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. And across the country, the Rolling Stones will have no sympathy for the devil or aging critics as they hit the road to commemorate 50 years in show business.

Once upon a time, white-haired musicians were the province of symphony orchestras. No longer. Watching 60- and 70-year-olds bounce across the stage is both jarring and inspiring. Questions like “How did we get so old?” mix with statements like “I can’t believe he can still hit the high notes,” let alone spend an eternity on a tour bus, bring energy to songs older than most audience members and stay up past 11 on a weeknight.

Sometimes there are so few original musicians in the bands of that era that the reincarnations seem like the original tribute bands. At times the copycats sound better than the originals. But most of the time we rejoice in the music and give thanks to the musicians who brave the road to bring us a glimpse of a time when we were young and moderately hip. They keep on truckin’ so we can keep on hoping. It’s an example all of us can appreciate.

Jerry Garcia’s dead. Long live Jerry Garcia.

Retro TV takes wing with ‘Pan Am’

Hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed drama “Mad Men” comes the high-flying “Pan Am,” ABC-TV’s retro look at the swinging sixties. Debuting this fall the show stars Christina Ricci, Karine Vanasse, Kelli Garner and Margot Robbie. New York magazine is reporting that Jonah Lotan, who plays an ambitious new pilot, is being replaced.

ABC bills the show as full of “passion, jealousy and espionage. In this modern world, air travel represents the height of luxury and Pan Am is the biggest name in the business. The planes are glamorous, the pilots are rock stars and the stewardesses are the most desirable women in the world.”

The executive producer and writer is Jack Orman, who served in similar capacities on “ER” and “JAG.”

The show’s appeal may lie in its contrast with air travel today. No doubt the writers will handle body searches differently than the Transportation Security Administration. As for the soundtrack, producers have chosen the perfect backdrop for a martini-loving generation, Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me.”

Hopefully the show will fare better than the airline. A cultural icon of the 1960s, Pan American World Airways operated from 1927 until 1991. After declaring bankruptcy that year its assets were acquired by Delta Air Lines.