Beautiful moments: following Bruce Hornsby

Let’s assume you’re on this website because you follow Bruce’s music. Somewhere along the line, maybe you had a defining moment in following Bruce Hornsby’s music – it could be a time at a gig, like getting your request played, or hearing a particular song, or even meeting Bruce in person…

Some of us have shared these experiences here. So let me know of your own – e-mail me , and I’ll put it up for everyone to enjoy…

Elyce Turner:

Every time Bruce plays Mandolin Rain -> Black Muddy River…. Every time someone comes up to me and says, “Hello, you are so much fun to watch dance!” (as opposed to those times when someone says “SIT DOWN!!” or “I’m sorry, you simply can’t do that here!”). I think my MOST Beautiful Bruce Moment was at the show in Pompano Beach, Florida in 1998. I took my big brother to that show, and afterwards, got to introduce him to Bruce. The Beautiful part was that David was older than me, and I always thought he was better at everything, way cooler and had more impressive stories to tell. This time, it was the little sister who got to be the one with the clout. For me to have the chance to say, “Bruce! I’d like you to meet my brother, Dave.” was a thrill. This of course, was only made better when I finished it with “Guess what he can do!” and made David burp for Bruce! (There is a story that goes with this as well, but I almost like it better leaving it at that). It was, truly, a beautiful thing.

M.P. Keaton:

My wife and I have been married about two and a half years, and we’re expecting our first child (the doctors tell us it’s a girl) in May. While figuring the due date we realized that, in all likelihood, conception took place the weekend of August 11th, 2001. Of course my wife and I were spending that weekend in Asheville, North Carolina because of Bruce’s concert at the Biltmore House. So in about four more months, instead of a “beautiful moment,” I hope to have a “beautiful” little girl.


at the first further festival at great woods in massachussettes i was sitting up on the lawn and along came bruce just walking around. he sat down and talked with us for a few moments

Matthew Dabbelt:

I was fortunate enough to meet Bruce a few years ago at the Furthur Fest in Cincinnati, Ohio. He and John” JT” Thomas were walking around in the lawn greeting people during the Black Crowes set. I was sitting Indian style at the top of the lawn and he almost tripped over my legs. Once I looked up, I realized who it was and went to go talk to him. He was very cool and chatted with my friends and I for about 5 minutes right before he had to go up for the encores. It was almost like we had known him for about 20 years. Very cool experience.

Nicky McMillan:

I could say that listening to the album “The Way It Is” for the first time was very special for me. I had heard the title track and posted on a question on the U2 newsgroups what they all thought of Bruce and should i go out and buy this album. Not a bad word was said so I had to go out and buy the album, I ordered it from and it blew me away.

Ari Sussman:

8-23-01 in Saratoga, CA. I crafted what I thought was a pretty good request that only the most dedicated Bruce fans would recognize. Before the show I scribbled on a piece of paper “Shadowhand–>Shadowland”. Both are favorite songs and I had never heard them played together. About the third song into the concert I saw Bruce pick up my request and take a curious look at it. He then proceeded to say: “Wow, this is a crafty request. This is a guy who clearly knows our stuff.” He then introduced the little known “Shadowland” and proceeded to play a beautiful medley of both of those songs together and finished it off by saying: “The band always appreciates smart requests”. I took that as a compliment. I tried waving my arms and yelling that it was my request, but I was too far back. Maybe next time I will get that extra personal recognition.

Claud Barfoed:

THE BEAUTIFUL MOMENT: was in 1993 when I saw Bruce in “Montmartre” in Copenhagen. It was a kind of “half secret concert”. It was my old piano teacher (hot shot in Denmark) who told me about the concert in two days. I was there and it was the concert of my life. Bruce gets on stage among his band was Jimmy Haslip on bass, and (of course) John Molo on the drums. Bruce says hello Copenhagen and asks us what we want to hear. For half an hour he plays requests starting with Soul Man. I began to think “hey come on, let’s hear some Bruce. He said let’s get serious and then he played for 2.30 hours. He played a lot of the jazzy stuff; it was when Harbor Lights came! Then he said with a clear southern dialect “I wrote this for my kids”. And he made a very beautiful version of “Fields of Gray.” The whole evening was a beautiful moment, but I must say. When he gave his last number; Mandolin Rain, alone on the stage, I had cry a little tear. Beautiful, fantastic and……….in my own language I have a lot of adjectives for this moment. It was very strong.

Si Twining:

Mine would be a trip to Virginia in June 2001, when I met Bruce’s brother Bobby for lunch. Halfway through the meal, I heard a familiar voice booming across the restaurant – unbeknownst to me, Bruce had agreed to stop by and eat. He and his brother are a hoot together, and I thought it was great of him to meet up, just hours before going out on tour.

David R. Windisch Jr: beautiful Bruce moment.. I’ve had four actually.
No. 1: first time I saw Bruce-Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame opening day concert-a month of so after Jerry’s passing, and Bruce busts out a beautiful Terrapin>
No. 2: Travel about four hours to see Bruce at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH. We get GREAT seats..first table in the joint, Bruce side. Tons of requests are going to the stage, and the only thing I have to write my request on is a hot dog wrapper. Midway through the show, Bruce invites folks to dance on stage with him, so I figure hey..I didn’t drive four hours to not take this opportunity. So dance, dance, dance, and I notice, my request is right on top of his piano. a couple tunes later, he teases ‘Lady with a Fan’. So Bruce does an intro bit about the hall of fame opening, and then busts into my request of Terrapin>Rider. The place went nuts, I about hit the ceiling jumping so high…it was fantastic. Just got a dsbd copy of the show the other day too…wonderful to relive.
No. 3: I took my mom to her first Hornsby concert in Indianapolis for a Christmas toy drive show one of the local radio stations was putting on. We got right up front, and out comes Bruce before his set to walk through the crowd. I got him to meet my mom, it was great. He opened the set with a medley of Christmas tunes on his piano…we had a lot of fun, and still talk about that to this day almost four years later.
No. 4: Walking to our seats at a Hornsby / Chris Issak double bill show. I run into a friend of mine from High School I hadn’t seen since graduation. we chatted up a storm and had a blast. I went to find him between acts, but he was gone. Since then we run into each other at all kinds of shows, and have gotten together for beers a couple of times. We left after a few of Chris Isaak’s songs.

Craig Daniels:

My wife and I took our kids (Pamela 12 and Thomas 9) to see Bruce at the Warner theater in Washington D.C. on April 18, 1999. They both play piano and we wanted to let them see Bruce in action. My wife and I have been to a few of Bruce’s shows over the last few years. So, prior to the show, my wife encouraged our son to write a note to Bruce with a request and to put it on stage. He did so, and much to our son’s delight, just before playing “The Way It Is”, Bruce announced that there was a 9 year old in the audience who wanted to hear this song. Needless to say, we were thrilled when he mentioned Thomas by name. The family saw Bruce again since then (Wolf Trap, Vienna, Virginia – Summer 2001), and Bruce’s mother (he looks just like her!) was sitting in the row just behind us. (Si’s note: if anyone has this show and can spin a copy for Craig, please mail him here – thanks!)

Larry Lang:

I can remember hearing Bruce and the Range on the local radio stations in Denver and Colorado Springs in 1986. I missed his first show at the Rainbow Theatre in Denver somehow, but when he came back in 1987 I got tickets almost dead center 3rd row at Red Rocks. It was a perfect evening and I knew virtually all the songs. I wish I had had the sense to write down the setlist, but that wasn’t something I would have thought of then. The band was tight and the songs were awesome.I have never met Bruce, but if he is ever in southern Oregon and wants to meet an old and huge fan I’d love to shake his hand.

Gregory Gertner:

So, already ecstatic that Bruce was coming to perform within walking distance of my apartment (at the Lisner Auditorium on the George Washington University campus in Washington, DC. Jan 19, 2002), I wrote out my request “Hooray for Tom” beforehand and had it ready to put on stage just before he came onstage. Whether it was heightened security or people just not aware of ‘the way Bruce works his gigs,’ my request was removed within 15 seconds of being on stage. Bruce came out and started the set with some new songs, which I can only guess will be on the upcoming album, and then broke into “Hooray for Tom” with a sarcastic remark directed at the security guard who removed the request. My best guess is that Bruce was able to read the request from offstage in the few seconds before it was removed, but I guess we will never know. It’s an obscure song, and if you have a bootleg, I’m the one person applauding (for whom he started the song over “so the people with bootlegs can be happy”) Great set, great songs. Magic. (anybody have a bootleg of this short set?)

Ginny Franz:

I first heard Bruce’s music on the radio in 1986/87. My first concert was in August of 1987 in Atlanta. I began to follow him more closely at that time. After purchasing, “Night on the Town”, I noticed an address on the album cover if one wanted to write to Bruce. I had been so impressed with the album and with”End of the Innocence”, I wrote my first “fan” letter. Lo and behold, on a Sunday evening in September of 1990, I received a phone call from a young woman who identified herself as Kathy Hornsby. We talked for a long time and she asked me to call/write the local radio stations to request Bruce’s music. Without hesitation, I began my campaign. In appreciation, the following spring Kathy called again and offered me a chance to meet Bruce and the Range after their performance scheduled for Atlanta that summer of ’91. I accepted and gathered my best friends. Together we all met Bruce and the band for the first time, thus began a long and rewarding friendship. I have continued my correspondence with Bruce-he signed an album cover for me “To Ginny, our Pen Pal” . He has proved to be a great friend all through the years! This is a great story that still awes people – that Bruce and his “crew’ would recognize little me – a fan!

Matty 4 Fingers:

The best and most moving Bruce moment was when I saw him that fateful August month that Jerry died. Bruce was playing great all night then said a few moving words about his friend Jerry, and then broke into a beautiful piano solo followed by the BEST version of Black Muddy River. I found my self weeping in sorrow and joy at the same time. It was an odd but pleasureable feeling.

Todd Baldi:

I have three beautiful moments The first was when I heard Rainbow’s Cadillac live in Irvine Meadows as part of the Horde festival. Man Bruce just soared that day! He broke out the accordian to play the tune. Firsts are always special. The second one is when I saw Bruce and Bonnie Raitt open together on a Thing Called Love. It later became Bonnie Rait’ts live album Road Tested. It was incredible. They were awesome! The third is I made out with this totally hot chick name Jennifer while Mandolin Rain was playing….but that is another story!!!

T. David Brown – “Opentune”:

For me, it was the first time I went to one of Bruce’s live shows. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember when it was, or what release it was after. It was already evident, even back then, that this guy was going to “mess with the knobs” at the live performances. It had been a long time since I’d seen someone so eager to do things differently from what was on the studio cuts. It had the free feeling of the late 60’s bands (original Allman Brothers) or the early 70’s fusion bands (Mahavishnu Orchestra). And what was up with not only taking, but encouraging, written requests? It was just a taste of what was to come from this guy.

Linda Sako:

Last summer (2001), at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, CA, I was with my husband and 2 great friends to see my most favorite artist of all time. We even had seats on the left side (facing the stage) so that I could see Bruce play. When he was a bit into Spider Fingers, he invited 10 fans to join him on stage. My friends encouraged me to go, knowing how much his playing meant to me. This was a first for me, as I generally prefer to rock out in my seat! I ran down, jumped onto the stage at the end of the piano and started dancing. Since I couldn’t see his fingers from there, I ran across the stage, planted myself behind him, and watched in total awe as I danced. Then, during one brief moment, Bruce got up, turned around, took my arms, and danced with me. I was on cloud nine for weeks! I keep a picture of this evening (thank you, Barry P.) next to my piano, where I can be found most afternoons playing his music. Now, my dream is to talk with him, sitting right on that piano bench, and learn even more about this brilliant musician!

Mary Hannabass:

I have been a Bruce fan(atic) since the late eighties, at which time I was living in Houston (having moved there from a very small town in Virginia). The music on the first two albums (but especially the “Scenes From The Southside” album) got me through a lot of hard days at a bad time in my life. Each and every song just touched me in some way, and made me want to write to him and tell him about myself. And so, I did. I wrote several long letters telling him how I was thinking of moving back home, but wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do. At first, I didn’t hear from him personally, but I did hear from Kathy, his wife, who was extremely sweet. When “A Night on the Town” came out and I heard “Across the River,” it was like I was listening to my life in a song. It is hard to explain. I met Bruce for the first time in 1991 while still living in Houston. He remembered me from my letters and was just such a “normal” guy. I have been back in Virginia since 1992, and I have had the pleasure of being in Bruce’s company on several occasions, including meeting several members of his family who are all terrific. I will always consider every moment that I am listening to his unique and extraordinary music a “beautiful moment.” (Ironically, the original release date for the new record was my birthday, May 28. It looks like my birthday present of new songs from Bruce will have to wait a couple of weeks, but I am sure it will be worth the wait.)

John Donoghue:

I have had wonderful moments every time that I’ve seen one of Bruce’s shows.I first saw him in Beverly, 1995 at the North Shore Music Theatre. I had heard his tunes on the radio for years but that was the extent my relationship with his music. This was a very bad time in my life, professionally and personally things really had sucked for about three years. I was depressed and had stopped doing the things that brought me pleasure. I went to the show with a friend and was just blown away by the sound. This band really conveyed to the audience that they loved what they were doing. I hadn’t heard any live music in about ten years and found myself in a joyous state. After the intermission some very tall and wide person sat in front of me and completely blocked my view of the stage, this person was huge.The fellow next to me said that it was a shame that I could’nt see any more and I remember my reply to him, “I don’t have to see what’s going on, I just need to hear to know what’s going on”. After the show I was thinking about how I couldn’t remember having such an experience any other time. I realized that I had stopped listening to music, I had stopped reading, going to movies, theatre, in other words I had stopped living. That show woke me up and I have to thank Bruce and his band for that. I have been to ten other shows of his since that time and have always come away thankful for the effort the band gives you. Bruce is a great deal, he never would consider giving you anything but his best. I haven’t had the opportunity to meet him as yet and hope that one day I will get the chance to thank him personally. I’ll be at both Cohasset and Hyannis this summer.

Jett Ryder:

I was at the August 2000 Harbor Center concert in Portsmouth, VA with my wife and sister-in-law. The guy who sat next to me was taping the show and asked me to avoid clapping along to the songs if I would. He told me he’d send me a copy of the concert if I wanted. I thought, yeah, right, but gave him my business card anyway. Well, aside from the show being just what I wanted on a warm summer night, I got to meet Bruce’s mom and had a pleasant chat with her for about 5 minutes. About 2 weeks later I received a copy of the concert just like the guy said. It sounds great (thanks in part to my self-restraint of yelling and hand clapping) although one can definitely hear me yell when the opening notes of Rainbow’s Cadillac are played.


It was an August night in 1998. Myself and four other friends went to see Bruce at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ (Exit 109 off the Parkway…always give a BRUUUUUCE when I pass it). To our surprise, Bruce announced that his brother John was in the audience and then called him up onto the stage. Together they performed “On the Western Skyline.” Near the middle of the song, there was a point when neither of the Hornsby brothers were singing. This was our chance. My best “Bruce Friend,” Jared, and I decided that John should get some recognition too. So instead of yelling our traditional BRUUUCE!!!!! We gave our loudest JOHHHHHNNNN!! We were standing right against the stage and were near enough where they could hear our yell. Both Bruce and John looked over at us and laughed. A year or so later, my friend Jared was able to trade for a copy of that show and we could definitely hear the point when the Hornsbys laughed. It was nice to know that after all the enjoyment Bruce’s music had given me, I could play a part in making him laugh one night in August.

Gabe Lundy:

My girlfriend Mary and I are from Grand Rapids, MI and we decided to leave to the show around 4:00 pm just to get on the road and get some air flowing around us because the hot and humid weather was unbearable. We got to K’Zoo and right as we pulled up, the tour bus pulled in. We were going to hang out at the South Town Bar right next door in the air-conditioning and have some drinks but when we got there it wasn’t open for another half an hour. Just as we figured that out Bruce got off the bus and was walking across the street to the backstage door with another guy. I never thought in a million years I would meet Bruce in person but we all locked eyes and he asked us what we were up to. I told him we were waiting for the show and shook his hand and wished him a good one. Not even 5 seconds later the guy he was with came around the corner and said we could come back and watch soundcheck!! He offered us a couple of coca-colas and we sat back and just took all the awe and amazement in. My God it made my whole year! They were working on “Place Under The Sun” off of Swing Face for the check. We watched for a good half an hour or so and as he headed down to the dressing rooms he stopped to chat for about 5 or 10 minutes. We thanked him up and down for giving us privilege of hanging out for a little while. He said, “Well I figured since you two looked really hot I thought you might like a little break…”

Gil Z Cohen:

My friends and I did a mini-run of shows in New England in April ’99 (April 5,6,8,9, 1999). We spoke to Bruce after 4/6 (after they had played Tangled for us, a whole other beautiful moment) to thank him and the band. I also asked that if he could, to play Cruise Control (my favourite Bruce tune) at one of the next two shows. By the encore of 4/8 my friends and I were right in front of the stage, and I wasn’t thinking of my request. As Bruce walked out for the encore he told JT to start “it” up, and he did. When Bruce got to his piano he looked out into the audience and saw me immediately. He quickly remembered me and pointed at me saying, “Hey, this one’s for you!” Needless to say, it took me quite some time to get that smile of my face.

Ryan Wrobleski:

1. 7/12/90 @ the Kirby Center. My first live BH experience with my wife(girlfriend at the time). We had just graduated high school on the Kirby Center stage a month before Bruce made the first of four stops there.
2. 11/90 Bloomsburg. Bruce still had lots of energy after returning from the European GD tour. At one point in the show the band all came out in front of Bruce’s piano for a jam and Molo forgot he was only wearing boxers!! Luckily he recovered before suffering “fallout”! The band had a huge laugh over that one.
3. 9/10/91 MSG. I’ll never forget watching Bruce as set one ended with a rippin’ Deal. The addition of Branford that night allowed for Bruce to step it up a few extra notches!
4. 6/6/96 Williamsport. After listening to a tape in which someone requested “Tangled Up In Blue” and Bruce said the band would do it if the guy gave him the words I decided I’d give him the lyrics @ this show. I was blown away when they pulled it off in the 2nd set! My wife was also pregnant @ the time and we always remember our son dancin in mom’s belly during “Under the Boardwalk”
5. 8/6/99 Seattle. Getting my wife’s pic with Bruce during “Women Are Smarter” and then having Bruce draw all over the pic @ the 11/00 York in-store signing. Thanks to Bruce for pulling off my “Mighty Quinn” request that night!
6. 9/17/00 PSU TOO. Just watching the look on Bruce’s face as the boys from Hanson sang in front of the piano was worth it. I think there were about 5 people @ this show,not including the guy who tried to run his car into the Jordan Center.
7. 9.26.02 A-town. Getting a bust in on Sonny as I called out for “Wind Beneath My Wings” J.V. was laughing pretty hard at Sonny! This whole show was just amazing.

Everyone has a story – let me in on yours – e-mail Si!

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1 comment

Rich Holmack August 5, 2011 at 10:02 pm

I have 2 good moments with Bruce, !st at his concert in San Diego, 2006, at Humphries by the bay. the 1st half of the show was oddly quiet, but after the intermission the place went crazy when bruce told everyone to come down by the stage, it was like a mosh pit, with everyone dancing and singing along to the songs…. the 2nd was up in Santa fe, 2011, when he held up the “BIG STICK I made him and showed to the croud, the most creative way i could think up to get him to play my request. he sounded so good that night, even my wife said “he’s gotten so much better”….

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