The Rolling Stones played this venue twice in 1965. Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys also played there in the mid-'60s.
Its history stretches all the way from Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra to Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers to the Who and Cream, KISS and Public Enemy.
Think I'm talking about the Fillmore, the Warfield or another famous San Francisco spot? I'm not. I'm talking about the San Jose Civic Auditorium, a place that has a real claim to being the most historically significant music venue in the Bay Area.
And San Jose Civic isn't done yet. The venue, on which a four-year, $15 million renovation was completed late last year, is still in the business of making new musical memories.
On Tuesday, I went to the Civic for the first time since the dust had cleared to see Jackson Browne in concert. My overall impression? San Jose now has a spot that can compete with the best 2,000-3,000-capacity venues in Oakland and San Francisco.
The first thing that strikes someone walking into the auditorium is a sense of history -- and for a local music nut like myself, a real sense of civic pride. The venue's history is displayed on the large portraits on the walls -- shots of many of the greats, from Santana to Sammy Hagar, who have played the Civic over the years. Those visiting the Civic should give themselves extra time to walk around the venue, both downstairs and upstairs, and soak up the entire photo
Inside, there's not a bad seat in the house, especially with the upgrade to the saddle-leather chairs. But some of the roughly 3,000 seats clearly are better than others. I recommend sitting in the "dress circle" (sometimes referred to as the 200 section), which wraps the back of the main floor and provides fine sightlines of the stage. The first rows of the balcony also are quite good.
I went with the dress circle, in back of the soundboard, for the Browne concert and had no complaints. Even though the two new HD video screens were off, per the artist's request, I still felt like I was close enough to the action. It was also an ideal spot for enjoying the new sound system.
Browne's warm yet worn vocals were easy to decipher, as he sang such fan favorites as "The Pretender" and "Running on Empty," even coming in the midst of a four-piece rock band.
Different buildings, of course, have different vibes. The Civic, a San Jose city landmark that opened in 1936, has a mellow, unpretentious feel. Browne seemed to pick up on that and was even chattier than usual during the show, taking -- and, in some cases, playing -- requests from his fans.
"I could sing you 'Cocaine,' " said Browne, in response to an unexpected request, presumably for the Eric Clapton hit. "But if I did, I'd have to sing you the rehab version -- and I'm not sure if you'd want to hear that."
Browne went ahead and played his "Cocaine," from 1977's "Running on Empty," and then invited more requests.
"We even know 'Free Bird,' if you insist," he said.
Fortunately, he didn't have to prove it. Instead, he focused on his own music. And the evening was a delight.
Browne has two more shows scheduled for the area -- Feb. 2 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium ($50.50-$81.50, www.santacruztickets.com) and Feb. 6 at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium ($45-$89.50, www.livenation.com).
As for San Jose Civic, it has a number of gigs lined up over the next few months, ranging from rockers (Aaron Lewis on March 2) to family shows (Yo Gabba Gabba! on March 5) to the blues (Joe Bonamassa on April 18). The venue is being booked by the powerful L.A.-based promoter Nederlander Concerts, so expect plenty of good shows to go on sale in the future. For more information, go to www.sanjosecivic.com.
Saddle up: Shoreline's gone country.
The Mountain View amphitheater, which has done huge business with country concerts over the past few years, again will host some of the genre's biggest stars and hottest young acts during its lengthy season.
The eight-show schedule kicks off April 26 with Lady Antebellum; it also includes Miranda Lambert (May 11), Tim McGraw (June 9), Kenny Chesney (July 25), Luke Bryan (Aug. 9), Brad Paisley (Aug. 22), Keith Urban (Sept. 21) and Jason Aldean (Oct. 12). More than 100,000 fans are expected to turn out for these concerts, according to promoter Live Nation.
Fans can see all eight shows if they purchase the 2013 Country Megaticket, which goes on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through www.livenation.com. These packages cost $249 (lawn seating), $649 (200 section) and $949 (100 section).
It's the best way to grab good seats for all eight of these country concerts. After the Megaticket buyers secure their spots, others will have the opportunity to purchase ducats for individual shows. No timeline has been announced, however, for when these individual concerts will go on sale.
All eight of these shows should be incredibly popular with country fans. However, the biggest show of the bunch appears to be Aldean, who may well be the hottest artist in country music today.
He completely sold out his Shoreline dates in 2011 and 2012 -- and he's only grown more popular since then. In many markets, he's moved up to playing mammoth stadiums, which he's having no trouble filling. Notably, he sold out two dates at Boston's legendary Fenway Park -- with tickets for the first night completely disappearing in about seven minutes. He also sold out University of Georgia's 93,000-capacity stadium in less than an hour.
Punk-rock comedy: Joe Sib is best known for cofounding SideOneDummy Records, the influential indie/punk-rock label that has released music by Flogging Molly, Gaslight Anthem, Gogol Bordello and other significant acts. He's also known for leading the bands Wax and 22 Jacks.
There might come a day, however, when this San Jose native is known equally for something else -- standup comedy. He's jumped headfirst into that realm and will perform as part of the SF Sketchfest on Tuesday at San Francisco's Punchline Comedy Club. Showtime is 8 p.m., and tickets are $15 (http://sfsketchfest.com).
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.
To see a slideshow of the renovated San Jose Civic and Jackson Browne's performance, go to www.mercurynews.com/entertainment.