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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hartwood Acres Freebie
or the end of the line for my Old 97's/Rhett Fest 09 :(

Okay, so Sunday was the last stop on my Festival Train of Obsession. The Old 97's played a freebie (gotz to love the freebies!!) at the beautiful concert site at Hartwood Acres north of Pittsburgh. 

(OMG!! Look at that face!!!! Sorry. Moving on.)

I had arranged to meet up with my steel drum buddy/Old 97's virgin Sheila and her hubby shortly before the show. I got there earlier, natch (obsessive/compulsive behavior will do that) and staked out a claim in the front. 

The chippie in charge just announced they were going to start the gig early when first came one 50-cent-piece-sized drop of rain...then another...then the sky split in two releasing the most powerful storm I have ever been caught in. Seriously. It was like the flood gates of Hell were unleashed on us unsuspecting heathens. I mean, Dude, it was of biblical proportion. No lie. The man-sized drops were pounding sideways instantly flooding the concreted dance area, not to mention my NEW SHOES!!?! 

Letter to God:
Dear Sir: 
Don't be messing with a girl's new shoes. That ain't right. Oh, and thank you for the rainbow afterwards. 

Anywho, I had my slicker on, but my blue jean capris were soaked through in minutes. I swear the weight of said rain stretched them an inch longer than when I dawned them hours earlier. This assault by nature went on for roughly 20 minutes.

During my desperate search for cover, I met a recent college grad/Olds enthusiast named Annie. She had driven for 3-1/2 hours from deep in West Virginia by herself to see the show...and apparently to get completely waterlogged. We ended up adopting her for the evening. Sheila and Tim finally made it down to the stage--dry, with some much needed wine in hand. 

It turned out to be a beautiful night.

With a packed crowd. 

The band was very impressed with our fortitude. Come on. We're Burghers. We're already out. What's a little flood waters amongst friends.

Rhett and the boys opened with the rocking "Won't Be Home" and kept the energy level at 11 for the rest of the evening. They even played "W. Texas Teardrops", a delightful little number that just makes you want to two-step around the dance floor. During the encore break, Rhett came out and played a new tune "Like Love" and perennial favorite "Come Around" before introducing the band back for the last four songs. 

He gave this young lad the thrill of his little life by personally handing him his set list in the middle of the encore set. Look at his little face. He was floating!

It was a great concert. The crowd was loud and appreciative, the wine was flowing, Annie and I were singing and dancing. And as always, it was waaaaay too short. I love "Time Bomb" because they play it with such abandon. They sink every last bit of energy left in them into that song. But I HATE hearing Ken's first chord, because it means it's the end of the evening. TB is their signature closer. 


This one was doubly sad for me, for it signified the end of my concert fun run. I  have nothing else lined up... I swear I'm going through withdrawal.

In honor of Billy Mays.. But wait, there's more!

Before the deluge, the lead guitarist, Ken came out to the merchandise table. He has a rep for being kind of the hard-assed, curmudgeon of the group. Geo and I spoke briefly with him at Maxwell's, but he's not always the friendliest. Whatever tension lurks within the Old 97's I'm pretty sure centers around the relationship between Ken and Rhett. I'm betting they're both rather controlling and butt heads regularly. 

This night, however, he was very chatty and approachable. He signed my CD, we gabbed, he shared his title as number one jazz patch in music. Apparently there was a listing in some magazine of the best jazz patches on musicians. Dizzy Gillespie was first, Frank Zappa second, Ken Bethea third. The first two guys are dead, so by his logic...he's number one.

That is a pretty good jazz patch.

Anywho, after the show the guys came out to meet those of us who stuck around. They're really good about taking time to greet their fans. It's one of the things that makes them special.

Finally got to meet the drummer, Philip. He's really sweet and quiet. I think he plays the part of Switzerland in the band. You know, neutral party...doesn't choose sides...just wants everyone to get along. 

Had a lengthy, animated and witty conversation with Murry, the bassist. He remembered me from the beach Thursday, which honestly took me by surprise since I hadn't spoke with him after either show. Perhaps my erratic, drunken dancing caught his eye...or the singing off-key.  We chatted about all sorts of topics; his charity (a habitat for humanity type of charity only the homes are for dirt poor people in Tijuana), the joy of aging (he gave a few pointers to Annie), how Ken, his touring roomie, doesn't flush (HA HA!) and just general crap. It's amazing how easy it is to talk with someone on whom you don't have a major crush. Unlike when I'm around Rhett and turn into brain-damaged, monosyllabic moron girl as stated in the last posting. Anyway, it was a very enjoyable conversation which ended in a hug. You know me. I'm big on hugging. I like to hug. I'm a hugger.

As you can imagine, the sweet young ladies were swarming all over Rhett, so I had to wait to talk with him. No problem. I totally get it. However, he made my little heart jump when he looked my way, smiled and said "Hi, Marie". 


Seriously. I know it is the silliest thing ever, but it makes my day to know he actually recognizes me and knows my name now. And I swear to God he was glancing my way when I was chatting with Murry. Okay, that's my fantasy and I'm sticking with it. 

We yakked for a bit, but by then the younger, nubile girls were circling so I snagged my hug and stepped away. (One of these days I'm going to get a kiss from the blue-eyed lovely, but then I would officially be "creepy older lady"., no. I'll stick with hugging.) Anywho, he stopped mid-sentence to say goodbye to me when he saw we were leaving. 

*uber sigh* 

That's why I find him so dear. He is the sweetest rock guy on Earth. Seriously. His Momma really did teach him right. 

Okay, so get this. The next morning I open my home email before heading off to work, and there's a "message from Murry Hammond on MySpace". 

What? Really? 

He had written a little note telling me how much he enjoyed our chat, how he wished we had coffee in hand and more time to talk. Ending with "see ya down the road, hopefully sooner than later." Imagine my surprise. He tracked me down on MySpace. That's a first. Now I guess I'm a FOM..Friend of Murry's. Cool.

What a great week!! Three live shows, one in-store solo performance, beach time, multiple meet & greets, numerous hugs, FOM and I got the best live album ever, "Alive and Wired" signed by the entire band. 

Not a bad week at all. I miss them already.

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