2009 A Recap
or goodbye old friend. I'm going to miss you
Okay, so I've heard a number of people expressing their desire to slam the door on the backside of 2009. I can sympathize. There have been years where I've wanted to kick those particular 12 months square in the nuts with the pointiest of point shoes, torch the calendar and incinerate all thoughts and brain waves connected to the memories of said miserable time frame. I'm looking at you, 2001.
While I can empathize, I can't agree regarding this past year. Granted there have been some really shitty things that have occurred. Several family members and friends have battled some truly atrocious physical ailments, but thankfully they've all walked through that dark hallway to emerge in the light, healthier people for it. I've personally had a number of minor ups and downs for which I've had to adapt, but nothing really earth shaking. This year has actually been a pretty even balance between positive and negative.
2009 has proven to be rather historic. In January we witnessed the inauguration of our country's first black president. Once again a smart, elegant and congenial gentleman is leading our fair land. Through him the the world seems to be allowing us to take a mulligan for the prior eight hellish years. Now if only the Dems in Congress can grow a pair, stand up against the I-hate-everything-you-plan-to-do-but-have-no-viable-suggestions-to-repair-the-damage-my-party-has-flagrantly-done Republicans and do what's right for the country.
A girl can dream.
Then to top it off, both the Steelers and my boys of winter brought home the championship hardware!! Each succeeding in nail-biting, epic fashion--The Steelers with a last minute, incredible catch by Santonio Holmes and the Pens snatching the cup from the very team that shattered their souls the year before. Sweet, sweet redemption!!!
But by far, 2009 has been all about me.
My seven squared year on this blue planet has been a blessing and a blast! Not since 1989 have we had such a great run of musical entertainment.
It started back on Valentine's Day with a high-energy, hyperactive, throw-back concert by The English Beat. Dave Wakeling may be in his 50s, but DAMN he can still knock out the Ska beat.
Then we traveled to lovely, downtown Teaneck, NJ for the first of many Rhett Miller solo shows. The venue was a little less intimate than desired. After sitting through the first three songs, I just had to run up to join the small crowd gathered around the stage and sing along. I cannot sit still when he performs and sadly for the people around me...I have to sing. Sorry. Rhett was a little rattled throughout parts of this particular show. Perhaps it was the venue...perhaps is was the fact he had just flown back from the coast and was flipping tired. But still he gave his all. He never disappoints, but then again you all know I think he is absolutely perfect.
This was the first time we got to meet our new Old 97's buddies, George and Maria. This is also when I taunted Mr. Miller, the forever Cowboys fan, by giving him a Steelers Championship shirt, resulting in him telling me I suck. That still makes me laugh.
The next day held an evening with our other musical love, Francis Dunnery at a little coffee shop in lovely, downtown Phoenixville, PA near Valley Forge. We got to hang with him beforehand, sit in on the sound check and throw back a few cocktails afterwards with Tony our favorite merch guy. Another amazing evening with a fabulous storyteller and guitar master. Francis never disappoints either.
We spent April Fool's Day with the hilarious David Sedaris. He is so entertaining! Dry, witty, slightly twisted...okay, more than slightly twisted. The only way to experience his writings is to hear it read in his own voice. We were in stitches the entire evening.
The merry month of May brought us a gift in the form of a Francis Dunnery house concert in a neighboring northern neighborhood. The location was the same as our first ever house concert. It was nice to see some familiar faces in the game room. He performed his Tall Blonde Helicopter Tour, which consists of Francis telling the story of his rise and fall as a music label's darling, coinciding with the end of his marriage as well as the end of his drinking witnessed through the songs of the album. It's always magical to spend an evening with this wonderful storyteller. The night went so swimmingly, Francis threw in a number of extra tunes.
That makes the score Francis: 2 Rhett: 1
Then there came June. Aaaaaah, June!
Perhaps my favorite month of this entire year. The home of my ultimate Rhett/Old 97's fest. Four performances in seven days. It all started at Vintage Vinyl for an in-store performance by the one and only keeper of my fantasy heart, Rhett Miller. His new solo CD had just been released and he was doing tons of publicity in support of it. He teased us all with a sound check rift of Candy Apple Corkscrew Hair, then razz-ma-tazzed the small grouping with at least a dozen new and old tunes. You can hear Geo calling out a request in the video on my original post.
I was able to make amends for the Steelers shirt thang at the meet and greet by giving him a couple of things for his kiddos.
Then it was off to Hoboken for night two of the original four-night-no-repeat shows. Besides seeing George and Maria again, we finally got to meet my internet friend, Cindy at Maxwell's. We had a blast! She and I stood in the front singing and taking videos. The band was phenomenal--high energy, screaming vocals, sweat spraying everywhere. It was awesome and over waaaaay too quickly.
Part Deux was a road trip to Dewey Beach with my good bud, Kelly. Thanks to Kelly for indulging my fangirl self and tagging along. We stayed two doors down from the club and happened to run into Rhett on our way back from the beach... in my swimsuit... smelling of the sea... with crazy-assed beach, blown hair. Uggh!
The show was incredible, as they all are. We stood front and left center (mole side) with...guess who? George and Maria, who proceeded to get me very, very drunk. :) So much fun!
The link to that post is here.
Parte Tres was held in my own backyard, basically. A freebie at Hartwood Acres. It was a rain soaked, sun drenched evening, but the crowd was into it. George and Maria weren't present, but I met a sweet, sweet fan Annie during the downpour, whom my friends and I adopted for the evening. Another tremendous, kick-ass performance by the boys. Plus Annie and I hung around and got to talk to all the band members.
I know. It's getting monotonous. For you maybe, but for me... I can't get enough of him/them. Seriously.
So the score is now Francis: 2; Rhett/Old 97's: 5
As our new anchor Rick says: Then the bottom dropped out.
We had nothing. Bupkis. Zilch. Nada. Until mid-August when Colin Hay came to town. He's no spring chicken, but his voice is still as clear as ever. We had very entertaining evening, especially watching his Brazilian wife interpretive dance around the stage. Another welcomed 80s comeback.
September brought two great evenings. First up was another Francis house concert. This time in Malvern, PA at the home of his booker, Kate. We've been exchanging emails and phone calls for years, but this was the first time to actually meet her and Larry. It was Larry's birthday, so he got to call the set list. A fantastic way to start our vacation.
Score: Francis: 3; Rhett: 5
We returned home to be treated to the jazzy pop sounds of Ireland's Bell X1 performing at our favorite club, Club Cafe. I was treated to an in-studio performance at WYEP that afternoon, but nothing prepared me for the unique experience of that concert.
The October breeze brought Mike Doughty & his Question Jar show to our fair city. His voice is amazing! And the question jar bit is brilliant. Two hours of wit, scatting, infectious grooves AND a freshly pressed CD of the evening's performance. Sweet!
November offered a mid-month road trip to Dallas for the CF Benefit Concert featuring... RHETT! Oh, like you're surprised. The billing for the event included Dallas locals, The O's and producer extraordinaire Salim Nourallah. Rhett played a private VIP meet and greet, as well as his 90 minute solo showcase. The crowd chatter was disappointing, but he's always worth the price of admission. Plus he was really working his long locks. Have I mentioned he's perfect? No. Added bonus, we got to visit with our dear gal pal, Myra Jean. Cindy drove up from Austin to join us for the affair, too.
Don't we look like we're having fun? We were. I know what you're thinking...what?! no photo of Rhett?! Oh, all right. If you insist.
Score: Francis: 3, Rhett: 6
December. Dear, Dear December. Once again we started our vacation early with a back door invite to a private performance by 90s pop star, John Wesley Harding at WYEP. His classic English literary wit shown brightly that night. We had a great time being the loud table in the back. The evening rekindled our love and appreciation of JWH's music.
Our first stop on our jaunt across the PA pond was Philly and Francis. Sounds like some sort of cocktail, doesn't it? Anywho, other than house concerts, Francis will pretty much only play the Tin Angel. The evening was remarkable, filled with old favorites. It felt as though we were in someone's living room. We left the venue with lighter hearts.
Mid week brought us to another JWH freebie, this time at the university in which he is an artist in residence. The Cabinet of Wonders featured Todd Barry, Larry Murphy, a couple of writers and an hilarious skit written by Wes himself. An afternoon well spent.
A link to the post of these three shows is here.
Score: Francis: 4, Rhett: 6
And then there were the bookend Rhett shows. *sigh*
A quaint used bookstore near NYU hosted Rhett for a benefit for Housing Works. A lot of the people present were there for the opening act, TVs Jill Hennessy, but their eyes were opened to the beauty of witnessing the lovely blue-eyed one's talents. And boy did he ROCK IT! So much so he split the staging apart a bit which knocked his beer to the floor. I've said it before. He is adorable, especially when he flubs the lyrics. And of course we ran into none other than our soon to become old friends, George and Maria!
The end of the week found us north of New York in a frozen tundra named Pawling, NY. The Towne Crier Cafe was the setting for the final Miller-magic moment of my year. He was warm, confident and in his home element performing in front of some of his friends. This was his only Christmas show and we were lucky to be part of it. We hung out a bit with George and Maria, as well as one of Rhett's friends, Marcy afterwards. I can't think of a better way to end the Year of Murray. :D
The link to this post is here. (But, come on! You should remember this one. I only wrote it a couple days ago.)
Final tally: Francis: 4, Rhett: 8
The only thing that would have made me completely lose my mind is if I could have made it to Dallas this week for the outrageously epic four-night-no-repeat-evening-with.. stand the Old 97's played at the historic Sons of Hermann Hall. I have a feeling that experience will never be repeated. And frankly, I'm a little bitter about missing it. But what can you do. I have to keep my job. But if there was a time machine, I would totally go to there.
So that's it. My amazing year of Me. I cannot thank my ever-loving Geo for his unending patience with me as I reverted back to a crazy 16 year old. He is remarkable and the light of my life.
Thank you 2009. Here's hoping 2010 is just as noteworthy.