jump to example.com
newsletter linked in

Eagles concert provides ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling’

Column by Jim Bishop

The stage lights came up, applause and cheers erupted, and I stared down on music legends. The Eagles had landed.

The incredibly popular band, formed in the early 1970s in Los Angeles, Calif., was in Charlottesville, Va., on its “Long Road Out of Eden” tour. Tickets, though outrageously priced, were available, the venue just one hour’s driving distance from Harrisonburg. Opportunity knocked, and I had to answer.

It felt especially good to make the excursion with daughter Sara, half my age and always ready for an adventure. I anticipated a mob scene, and it would be the early morning hours before we’d return home in the middle of a work week.

So, here we were, absorbing the sights and sounds together in the cavernous, 16,000-seat John Paul Jones area, part of the sprawling University of Virginia campus, on the eve of my 63rd birthday.

The concert was supposed to start at 8 p.m., but the hour drew nigh and nothing was happening except more people climbing steep steps and shoehorning themselves into the narrow cushioned seats with no leg room.

It appeared to me that money must not have been an issue in constructive the massive facility, completed in 2006. It helped that Paul T. Jones II, a 1976 U.Va. graduate made a $35 million commitment toward the state-of-the-art facility in honor of his father, John Paul Jones, a 1948 graduate of U.Va.’s School of Law. The arena is home to the Virginia Cavaliers’ men’s and women’s basketball programs, concerts and community events.

I was taken by an amazing wrap-around graphic display with animated graphics for non-stop ads, including, of course, numerous U.Va. attractions and functions.

Ah, life in a capitalist society …

Speaking thereof, I tried not to think what we paid for tickets, and Sara and I had the cheap seats in the nosebleed section. I wondered what people shelled out for front row seating.

Tough economic times apparently weren’t stopping masses of people from standing in lines to purchase Eagles merchandise. Sara badly wanted a T-shirt or sweatshirt, but couldn’t bring herself to fork over $40 or $60 on top of what it already cost to drive there, parking and supper. I couldn’t really enjoy my five-dollar single dip ice cream cone.

At 8:15 p.m., the arena lights went out, a period of darkness ensued, spotlights drilled the huge stage, and four figures wearing dark suits cut loose with “Hold On,” from their “Long Road Out of Eden” double album. The audience went berserk.

The Eagles formed in 1971, the same year Anna and I moved from Indiana to Harrisonburg for me to take the job I remain in. While there have been some personnel changes from the early days, most notably Randy Meisner and Don Felder, two of the original members, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, have been constants.

Although together now for 37 years, the group disbanded in 1980, then got back together in 1994. (“We never really broke up. We just took a 14-year vacation,” Glenn Frey announced at their first live performance that year). From 2001 to the present, group members are Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit along with Henley and Frey.

The Eagles are one of the most successful American recording artists ever, with five number one singles, six number one albums (their “Greatest Hits, 1971-75,” is the best-selling album in U.S. history with nearly 30 million copies sold to date; I have it on vinyl) and five Grammy awards, including “record of the year” for “Hotel California” in 1977.

Ah, what a way to take it to the limit. …

The concert showcased vocal work by each band member. What a hoot to see Joe Walsh perform his self-effacing ’78 tune, “Life’s Been Good,” standing on the edge of the stage, a camera mounted on his cap projecting images of the audience onto a large overhead screen. Don Henley’s raw voice seemed tailor-made for his rendition of “The Boys of Summer” and “Dirty Laundry.”

To what does one attribute the band’s staying power? I credit well-written songs with memorable melodies, lyrics that tell stories and distinctive, soaring group harmonies. Overall, they almost sounded better live than on recordings, and from where I sit, the dazzling light show, syncopated with the music, wasn’t necessary; their presentation held up on its own.

As soon as the lights came up for intermission, about every third person pulled out their cell phones and started yakking or text-messaging. Something else: these pesky devices have replaced cigarette lighters when the arena darkens and the multitudes wave their cell phones back and forth in time to a slow, soulful number.

I was a bit disappointed that two personal favorites, “Tequila Sunrise” and “Seven Bridges Road,” weren’t in the repertoire, but it wouldn’t have been possible for the group to perform all their hits in one concert. I didn’t expect “Desperado,” another favorite, to be their encore number, but definitely a grace note to end on.

What a great way to spend about three hours on a Wednesday evening in May, soaring with Eagles. All too soon, it was back to my (lame) duck routine, this aging rocker trying his best not to quack up in navigating the long road out of Charlottesville in heavy, after-midnight traffic.

Ah, life in the fast lane …

Jim Bishop is the public-information officer at Eastern Mennonite University. He can be reached at bishopj@emu.edu.

Top Stories

The UVA football hazing suit: A change in culture?

You thought the worst part of the UVA football experience was what you saw on the field. Now the headlines about the program have the word “hazing” in them.

Debate: The headlines, not surprisingly, are about Trump not accepting election results

Donald Trump, down big in the national polls, needed to score at least a knockdown, if not a knockout, in tonight’s presidential debate with Hillary Clinton.

Quinnipiac: Clinton leads Trump by seven in national poll

Republican Donald Trump’s lead among men and white voters all but vanishes as Democrat Hillary Clinton takes a 47-40 percent likely voter lead.

Poll: Virginia voters back Atlantic Coast Pipeline, kinda, sorta

A new poll from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce shows at first glance broad-based support for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Poll: Tom Garrett has lead in Fifth District race

The campaign of presumptive Fifth District favorite Tom Garrett is citing new polling to claim a lead that is smaller than you’d expect.

Update: One teen in custody in Waynesboro High School bomb threat hoax

Detectives today obtained a criminal charge and detention order for the oldest student involved in Monday’s bomb threat hoax.

This week's Viewpoints: Previewing the final 2016 presidential debate

This week’s guest on Viewpoints on WVPT is Bobbi Gentry, a political-science professor at Bridgewater College and roller-derby enthusiast.

Our View: Hillary Clinton gets nod for president

Democrat Hillary Clinton is our choice for president in the Nov. 8 election, after which we hope the nation can take steps toward healing.

Too hard to do the right thing: UVA can't get out of its own way, again

The enthusiasm of the UVA football fan base is long gone, judging by the 22,000-plus seats left unclaimed on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

UVA survey reveals deep public disgust over political culture

A new UVA survey reveals Americans’ deep dissatisfaction with the country’s political culture, personified by the leading candidates for president, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Recent News

Hosts Chris Graham and Crystal Graham of Augusta Free Press highlight local news and newsmakers with an emphasis on the Shenandoah Valley on Viewpoints on WVPT.

Join the conversation on WVPT's Facebook page.

Chris Graham is the editor of Augusta Free Press, ESPN3 baseball broadcaster and the author of five books. Crystal Graham is the award-winning former host of WVPT’s Virginia Tonight.

Show airs Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m.

Want to see what's coming up on Viewpoints? Click here.

Missed a show? Watch OnDemand and on our YouTube channel.

Past shows are also available via the PBS app wherever it is available (iOS, Xbox, Roku, Android, etc). Videos will be found more easily if you localize the app and select WVPT as your local PBS station.

AFP Business

Your One-Stop Media Shop

Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including web design, magazine/brochure, TV/radio, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation.


Get information on readership and advertising online with us.

AFP Classes

Augusta Free Press offers a series of hour-long classes on website design, marketing strategy, social media, event planning and more.

Web Design

You want a new website, but don’t have the first clue as to how to build one. That’s our job. Get your business online for as little as $1,299.

Graphic Design

Whether you need a fresh business card design, rack card, ad, flyer or full magazine design, we can help with all your graphic-design needs.


Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Search Engine Optimization

The prettiest website in the world is like a tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it. If your website hasn’t been search engine optimized, no one is going to see it or hear it – and it’s not going to work for you.


Web videos, TV and radio commercials, DVDs – Augusta Free Press LLC has you covered when it comes to video and audio production.