Download: The Millennium Bash .. December 31 1999, Williamsburg, VA

Download the first show from the new millennium with Bruce Hornsby and his band on a revolving stage with a huge dance floor… and sword swallowers, fire-eaters and jugglers. Not to mention unicyclists and stilt-walkers. And a liquid light show. And bubbles and confetti. And fake snow.

William and Mary Around 4-5,000 people threw caution to the wind, braved the non-existent Y2K Bug and joined Bruce, his band and his family to usher in the new millennium. Now we have an audience recording of the show up for download!

We also have a gallery of photos from the Millennium Bash evening!

Amongst a myriad of well wishes and words of wisdom were a bunch of fortune cookies with a Bruce-related theme. Here are the messages that were enclosed:

  • You and your baby will be the Talk of the Town
  • You should stay away from ‘Crackers and Cheese
  • Carry the Water for the one you love.
  • Good seed don’t grow on a Barren Ground
  • One fine day you will find your way Across the River
  • Van and Willie will not go out one night with you.
  • You might get Stranded on Easy Street (the cookie actually read “East Street”, which likely left a few people stumped)
  • You will take your seat in the Royal Suite
  • Thats just The Way It Is, but don’t you believe them
  • You will listen to the Mandolin Rain when you so desire
  • You will wind up King of the Hill
  • You will find comfort a long way from your Resting Place
  • Round and Round it goes, first to laugh is the last to know
  • We will all come together across the Great Divide
  • Wake up, you are the Eyes of the World.
  • You will see a Sunlight Moon and be home soon
  • You may Listen to the Silence and hear what you’re looking for
  • It’s nice to be here with all you good people
  • Let your Spirit Linger with the Spider Fingers
  • Be careful what you look for, you just might find it
  • Look deep and you might find, you like it when you cross the line

Russel, Keith and Bruce Hornsby

We heard from a number of you on Facebook who made it on the night:

Todd J:

“Three of my friends and I drove over 10 hours from Indiana for that show. It was an amazing night. One of the highlights of all my concerts for sure.” (Si’s progress update: Todd now traverses Europe from Moscow for a show)

Virginia M: 

“I was there with a friend and have my poster up in the garage! I remember the band . being very dressed up, I remember that silly rotating stage breaking halfway through (was it from women dancing to Rainbow??) and I remember the twins coming on stage. Everything else is a blur…”

Dan B:

“My wife and three daughters came from Ohio. All of the daughters and I danced around the non moving stage at one point during the show. Said hello to Kathy Hornsby before the show. Great memories, plus still have my commemorative black tee shirt!”

Rose R: 

“Awesome evening with friends & an early breakfast in W&M Hall! So memorable. Not to mention the show was something else! At the stroke of midnight the band had their sweetheart come up on stage for the countdown… so sweet for the midnight!!”

Ann Marie L:

“Yes!! What a time!! My son was there, too. His 13th birthday NYE 1999/2000. Happy 20th”

We also heard from several at the time who were lucky enough to attend.

Tony “Big Rumble” Merriman:

“Right before midnight there was a guy in a brown leather jacket who tried to get onstage but security got to him before he could do that.  I think he was drunk just wanted to get up on stage with Bruce for the NYE celebration.

Bruce had a slight cold he had a vaporiser onstage next to his piano.  But I think he was in a good singing voice for the show.”

Bobby Hornsby:

“Playing old favorites with Bruce’s great band is one of the most happy things of our life.  We’re so glad you could be there to share the fun with everyone, and appreciate your perspective and addition to the good vibes!”

Kevin T.:

“The show was very fun. I ended up with a seat next to the lady from the Look Out Any Window video. She was a very nice neighbor! She had interesting stories about Bruce and she was very into being at the show. All in all a very sweet show with lots of attention to detail….the bag of goodies to bring in the new year, the cool brass key chain memento and those fun fortune cookies.” 

Bruce Hornsby Millennium Bash JMW64:

Bruce invited a couple of girls onstage to dance during a song. Before long, it looked like there were 200 people on stage!  I really felt sorry for one poor security guy standing in front of our seats making a feeble attempt to keep any more people from going onstage! But, it looked like everyone was cool and nobody tripped over a cable or knocked over anything!  Amazingly, most everyone knew when to leave without being told to “scram” by security!  


It was really cool seeing the reaction of some of the older folks and the yuppies who, for a brief moment, seemed to “get it” during Scarlet and Jack Straw…  At least from my perspective, even dancing in the aisles seemed to be the normal thing to do!

The local press covered the concert also:


My millennial moment came shortly before 11 p.m.on New Year’s Eve.


Williamsburg-born rock star Bruce Hornsby had invited anyone to join him on stage at William and Mary Hall. A couple hundred people, most of them locals, took him up on the offer. Together, they grooved to a song that Hornsby had written about the playground-basketball heroics of 1970s W&M star John “Rainbow” Lowenhaupt.


Relaxed and smiling broadly, Hornsby toted a huge white accordion through a dancing throng made up of, essentially, his extended neighbors. He strolled effortlessly where there seemed no room to take a single step. Time and again, his fans parted, then enveloped him, like Chesapeake Bay around a waterman’s skiff – another local subject to which Hornsby has given artistic expression.


Hornsby appeared to climb atop his piano to hover above the adoration. At the same time, he extolled a jump shooter whose place in history never extended much beyond Busch Gardens on the east and Toano on the west.


Here was the sense of community that ensured the celebration of 1,000 years.


The explosion of lights on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the 16 barges burping fireworks into the night over London’s Thames River, the Washington Monument aglow, even the splash of the Times Square ball into a sea of humanity merely paid homage to the substance of our success. Civilization sustained owed its greatness to individual relationships based upon mutual respect that grew into a collective conscience.


I’m not sure that anyone else at Hornsby’s performance shared my epiphany. If not, I trust that they found something else, which is actually appropriate. While Hornsby sang of Lowenhaupt, I thought of another William and Mary man, albeit a tad less notorious than the mighty Rainbow. Playwright and playwriting professor Lou Catron taught me that you get to the universal through the specific.


Surely, that’s what we did in making it this far.


The whole of humanity depends on the integrity of its parts. Where I looked Friday night, from the stage to the bleachers, I found examples. The Hornsby show attracted everybody: The youngest fans arrived in strollers, the oldest on canes.


Roaming jugglers, stilt-walkers and a single fire-eater lent a carnival atmosphere.


“Look,” joked a unicyclist who tipped his cycle as he ran over a curb outside the arena before the show, “it’s the first crash of Y2K.”


First and last, as far as I was concerned. Faith in institutions and people kept me from hoarding toilet paper and canned peas as New Year’s Eve approached. Aside from a rotating stage and all the other technological bells and whistles of a pop-music performance, Hornsby’s concert on the dreaded night itself provided plenty of hope.


For one thing, 20-something years ago, I actually played in a pick-up basketball game with the great Lowenkaupt.


Familiarity counts.


On New Year’s Eve, celebrants wandered throughout William and Mary Hall unhassled by ushers. When the lights went down, nobody cared whether you moved to a better – perhaps even more expensive – seat, so long as that seat was unoccupied.


The deal was simple: Nobody was looking to get over on anybody. I left my suede jacket and my cell phone unattended in the mezzanine for several hours while my wife and I roamed the arena, stood on the floor near the stage, then migrated into some empty lower-level seats. My jacket and phone were
still there when I returned.


The dance floor beyond the rotating stage stayed packed in a demographic mishmash outfitted in everything from denim to satin and tie-dye to black tie. The tragically hip brushed hard up against the rhythm-challenged without a spark of recrimination.


Meanwhile, Hornsby proved himself to be simultaneously a musician whose talents have earned him millions and a gentle soul whose roots have provided the inspiration for a remarkable body of work.


He wondered how many of his listeners remembered a particular interracial romance that scandalized Williamsburg. He wondered who remembered the house of ill repute on Penniman Road. Hornsby remembered both and turned them into songs.


This sense of place allowed a rock star with several recordings, who toured with The Grateful Dead, who has written hit songs for performers like Don Henley and Huey Lewis, to find a place on stage for his brother to play bass for a couple of numbers, then for his young twin sons to bang some drums, then
for his wife to take snapshots of the kids with their dad as the clock struck 12.


“I’m an indulgent parent,” Hornsby told the crowd.


On New Year’s Eve, he was also a timely example of the debt that fame owes to things mundane.


He played as if he were in his den, not in an arena with 4,000 people.


The best way to describe Hornsby’s performance at the turn of the century and the start of a new millennium was “down-home.”


He shared history exactly as it should be shared, offering his stage to an audience of apparent nobodies who, in fact, created the limelight.

Thanks also to those who contributed memories on our Facebook group!


12/31/99 – 01/01/00 William & Mary Hall – Williamsburg, VA
Set 1: (Spider Fingers) > Great Divide, Will It Go Round In Circles, Bonaparte’s Retreat > Great Divide, Signed Sealed Delivered, King of the Hill > Big Boss Man > (Arkansas Traveller) > King of the Hill, I’m in Love, Jacob’s Ladder > (Blackberry Blossom), Lucky Old Sun, Talk of the Town, The Way It Is, Scarlet Begonias*, End of the Innocence, Rainbow’s Cadillac > Women Are Smarter > Rainbow’s Cadillac, We’re Having a Party, Valley Road
Set 2: Big Rumble** > On the Western Skyline > Big Stick, Down the Road Tonight, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, (Millennium countdown), Auld Lang Syne, Spider Fingers > Tighten Up > Spider Fingers, In the Wee Small Hours, Winter Wonderland, Jack Straw*, Sunflower Cat > Lot to Laugh > Sunflower Cat, Mandolin Rain > I’m in a Good Mood Tonight > That Would Be Something > Mandolin Rain, Cruise Control
Encore: Pig in a Pen, Across the River
Comments: Millennium Bash. * w/Bobby and Ann Hornsby ** w/Joe Lee. Bruce’s twins joined them on stage for Scarlet Begonias.

Download Bruce Hornsby Millennium Bash, Williamsburg, VA December 31 1999

mp3  01. Spider Fingers > Great Divide > Will It Go Round in Circles > Bonaparte's Retreat > Great Divide
» 10.3 MiB - 441 downloads

mp3  02. Signed, Sealed, Delivered
» 3.9 MiB - 504 downloads

mp3  03. King of the Hill > Big Boss Man > (Arkansas Traveler) > King of the Hill
» 8.1 MiB - 520 downloads

mp3  04. I'm in Love
» 4.4 MiB - 382 downloads

mp3  05. Jacob's Ladder > (Blackberry Blossom)
» 6.6 MiB - 429 downloads

mp3  06. Lucky Old Sun
» 5.7 MiB - 492 downloads

mp3  07. Talk of the Town >
» 3.3 MiB - 400 downloads

mp3  08. The Way It Is intro >
» 3.9 MiB - 502 downloads

mp3  09. The Way It Is
» 7.3 MiB - 549 downloads

mp3  10. Scarlet Begonias
» 7.6 MiB - 396 downloads

mp3  11. End of the Innocence
» 7.1 MiB - 351 downloads

mp3  12. Rainbow's Cadillac > Women are Smarter > Rainbow's Cadillac
» 11.6 MiB - 489 downloads

mp3  13. We're Havin' a Party
» 2.0 MiB - 783 downloads

mp3  14. Valley Road
» 6.0 MiB - 520 downloads

mp3  15. Big Rumble
» 6.2 MiB - 449 downloads

mp3  16. On the Western Skyline
» 6.0 MiB - 436 downloads

mp3  17. Big Stick
» 3.5 MiB - 468 downloads

mp3  18. Down the Road Tonight
» 5.2 MiB - 472 downloads

mp3  19. Somewhere Over the Rainbow > I'm in a Good Mood Tonight > Millennium countdown
» 4.9 MiB - 442 downloads

mp3  20. Auld Lang Syne
» 2.6 MiB - 486 downloads

mp3  21. Spider Fingers > Tighten Up > Spider Fingers
» 11.3 MiB - 368 downloads

mp3  22. In the Wee Small Hours
» 3.4 MiB - 469 downloads

mp3  23. Walking in a Winter Wonderland
» 2.5 MiB - 465 downloads

mp3  24. Jack Straw
» 7.2 MiB - 548 downloads

mp3  25. Sunflower Cat > Lot to Laugh Train to Cry
» 7.4 MiB - 497 downloads

mp3  26. Mandolin Rain > I'm in a Good Mood Tonight > That Would Be Something
» 8.7 MiB - 489 downloads

mp3  27. Cruise Control
» 10.2 MiB - 505 downloads

mp3  28. Pig in a Pen
» 2.7 MiB - 679 downloads

mp3  29. Across the River
» 8.4 MiB - 539 downloads

Enjoy this Bruce Hornsby download – the Millennium Bash from Williamsburg, VA!

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