"Live at the Quick," Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (2002): "If someone were to tell me today about a new band that was led by a banjo player, with a virtuoso bass player, a saxophone player, and a weird hybrid electronic drum thing, I probably wouldn't give it the time of day. I first experienced Bela and the Flecktones when I was a teenager at the Minnesota Zoo amphitheater. It was the kind of show that inadvertently gave me permission to embark on the musical journey I'm on right now: connecting to a wide audience by sharing the human experience expressed through instruments."
PaviElle & Michael Bland
(The singer and the Soul Asylum/Prince drummer coincidentally chose the same album.)
"Live," Donny Hathaway (1972): PaviElle said, "It was my mom's favorite. She played this album at least once a week. You can't really put words to the electricity you feel between the musicians and that crowd. It's palpable. The audience was so Black, so live, and so supportive of Donny's showmanship and sound. I have never heard something so public like that be so intimate to the point that you can envision yourself right there with them all."
Said Bland, "It's a man who stood head-and-shoulders above almost all of his peers, in a raw and transparent context. No studio tricks. No filter. All soul. He was a genius who never got the credit he deserved."
Savannah Smith of Turn Turn Turn
"Live at the Burton Cummings Theatre," the Weakerthans: "Unfortunately, my first chance to see them live was also my last — my first car wouldn't start just as I was about to make the 90-minute trek to Triple Rock [in 2007]. John K. Samson is an incredible storyteller; the live delivery of his lyrics makes it feel as though he's speaking right to you. There are certain intricacies in live music that you just can't replicate, the strings and steel guitar accentuate parts of the song that may have otherwise gotten lost. It's a beautiful thing."
Bill Lindsey of Impaler
"Alive!" Kiss (1975): "Everything I thought rock 'n' roll should be at 14 years old. My senses were slapped silly listening to the over-the-top performance of blistering guitars, evangelistic vocals and a drum solo that sounded like a UFO was landing in my bedroom. All this while paging through the booklet insert filled with images of the band that went hand in hand with the exhilarating and exciting music. To this day, I still listen to 'Alive!' on a regular basis."
Nate Dungan of Trailer Trash
Merle Haggard, "Okie From Muskogee" (1969): "The sound of the crowd on that record helps make it special. The audience is so intense and so committed to him throughout, it's inspiring. And it's interesting to think of what was going on politically and socially at the time. A lot of people didn't get that [the song] 'Okie From Muskogee' was mostly a joke, and I think that just adds to the magic."
Ashley Ackerson of BNLX
(Sharing a memory about her late husband, Polara frontman and Flowers Studio owner Ed Ackerson.)
"Performance Rockin' the Fillmore," Humble Pie: "In the early days of dating Ed, I was hanging out at the house while Ed was recording a session at Flowers. Ed came into the house to grab something, and this was blaring out of his stereo system. This record to me is pure rock, and Steve Marriott was one of the best rock-god singers ever. Many, many years later, I found out that Ed went back into the session with the band and was completely amazed with delight that his newish girlfriend was rocking out to Humble Pie. This sealed the deal for him that I was a keeper."
Also read: "The best albums are live albums, especially during the pandemic."