Hi, Angels. This will be some personal observations of what went on, and
why I had such a fahrvergnugen good time! (this is an edited and expanded
version of the message I sent to the list right after returning from a 13
hour drive, so parts of it are probably a bit weird)
First of all, big hugs or handshakes to Mike, Akira, Tom P., Liz, Rachel, Robb, Dennis (or Dean), Lauren, Steve, Liz, Sinjin, Tom O., Phil, Eric, Shelly, Anthony, Dean (or Dennis), Gerrit, Dan, Liz, Jackie, Selena, Barry, Crunch, Kim, Jared, Armand, John, Eric, Rich, and all the others whose names I'll re-remember right after I send this. :) I've just driven/ridden 13 hours and my brain is barely functioning. You were all great, and I had a blast meeting y'all. I'll forever have fond memories of the get-together before the show. THANKS for being there! Toni -- you're the best daughter a guy could hope for, and it was fun having you along.
Matt & Jeremy -- Great ride, fun trip; thanks for being so accomodating. We made it into town about 7 AM Thursday (that's what I'd call LATE arrival at the motel) and had a long breakfast at a place I can't remember the name of... We checked out the Bearsville Theater and found no one there yet; later we learned that Lauren and company had already dropped by but declined to sit and wait just yet. After we found the Chamber of Commerce I asked Matt to drop me off at the HoJo's before I collapsed. To my delight, they had cancelled my "confirmed" reservation for the previous evening but held it open for that day -- so I got into the room at 9 AM but only paid for one night's lodging. Toni roamed with Matt & Jeremy while I managed a couple hours sleep and got a shower before re-joining them, so I was mostly coherent.
We arrived at the Theater around 1 PM, and only a handful of folks had actually decided to camp out on line. See the "front row gang" picture. We all made acquaintance and found out that the others were pretty cool folk; in true angel spirit, we counted heads and decided that we'd all hold the front row for each other in case of line crashers. It wasn't necessary, of course. Everyone was terrific about lining up.
I got to meet Rachel and Liz, two sweet young ladies I had chatted with on the list from time to time. They were as nice in person as they could be. An added bonus was greeting Selena, who truly deserves the polite and platonic appellation of "goddess." I also got to chat a bit with Lauren, who should probably be titled "first lady" of the front row. Because of her arrival time, of course. :) It was also cool to meet Eric, Akira, Sinjin, Tom, and Gerrit, who straggled in as the time passed. Not to slight anyone, but if I repeat all the names again, this will take forever. :)
Jewel was actually auditioning for her touring band while we sat outside! She poked her head out once to check on something just as Liz turned around; The poor girl nearly fainted, but Robb was talking her through it: "Breathe, Liz; breathe!" Yeah, I was like that the first time I saw her, too. :) I thought it was ultra-cool that Jewel bopped in and out of her afternoon band audition and didn't feel it necessary to hide from us or "hold court" which would have taken too much of her valuable pre-concert work time. She acknowledged us with a smile and a wave, and knew we'd respect her privacy. Touching. Heh -- when she left for lunch, she walked right past us at the front steps and spotted Toni. "Wow; that's the BRIGHTEST green hair! That's so neat! I wanted to dye my hair purple but I didn't have the nerve!" Toni was too stunned to do anything but smile and thank her as she passed. Jewel waved again as she left in the provided car.
Surprise, surprise -- several people brought frisbees along to while away the long wait. I got into the act, and we ultimately had as many as ten people concurrently flinging the little discs around. Jewel's Atlantic recording van got clobbered a few times by missed throws; how ironic.
The long, long line terminated at the Bearsville Theater front door, where ambient temperature was probably over 100 degrees. The natives were extremely restless as 7 PM came and went, while Akira, Crunch, Mike, and others frolicked inside in the air conditioning. Numerous threats of bodily injury were vocalized at Crunch (apparently by those who forgot his generous handouts of candy bars before the concert) and Akira (who likewise gave away all his delicious cookies). No one griped at Mike, probably because he looks capable of flattening anyone who displeased him sufficiently. :) Finally, at 8 PM, the doors creaked open and Akira began the arduous task of verifying each and every name with his carefully prepared list. Toni, bless her, got into the theater and snagged the adjacent seat for me as I had gotten displaced somewhat in the madhouse of entry.
I went to the bar to get a cold non-alky drink (I was nearly dehydrated from that 7 hr wait in line), and was nearly shocked out of my shoes to see an unexpectedly familiar face. The remarkable, talented and under-recognized Happy Rhodes was sitting at the bar with her friend and producer Kevin Bartlett. I knew Happy lived in Bearsville but had hardly dared hope to meet her. If you haven't heard her music, pester me for a NJC post or private review. Happy roughly corresponds to 'America's Kate Bush' in her talent and style, but she's absolutely her own original musician. I introduced myself to them and we had a delightful few minutes to talk before the performance started. I was totally jittery -- Happy is as important to me as Jewel, though for different musical reasons. She was amused by my nervousness. I introduced her and Kevin to Toni, and Kevin almost immediately wanted a tape of Toni's band to review. They're fabulous folk.
Showtime! The organizers got on stage and took well-deserved bows. Then we were treated to the concert event of a lifetime. Wasn't Patty Griffin marvelous? I liked the CD but her live performance eclipsed it completely; I will remember her cover of "Crazy" forever. I missed meeting her *twice* -- after the show and later when it turned out she was staying down the hall from me at the HoJo's. Arrrggghhh.
Jewel was -- totally [fill in positive adjective; I can't do it with the few remaining brain cells that are switched on]. She read poetry! Great stuff, too. She concentrated on stuff we WANTED to hear live, instead of stuff she feels obligated to play. She delivered drop-dead awesome renditions of Nikos, Tiny Love Spaces, His Pleasure Is My Pain [Toni's fave] and Nicotine Love. She sang with her mother, and let Lenedra do her lullabye for us while Jewel sprawled adorably on the floor nearby. She teased Robb when he hooted loudly -- after her disgusted reaction to a fluffed start on one song (Tiny Love Spaces?). She didn't play Absence of Fear; darn. She didn't play WWSYS or yodel; yay! (well, she did yodel as part of the punchline to a joke... heh heh). She apologized to Dolores O'Riordan. Heh heh. She looked directly at me for most of the concert. Well, actually I think it was her usual 'focus' spot and I just happened to be sitting near there. :) I got a few good pics; see the picture page.
The band was great [T-Bone Wolk and Jerry Marotta. Holy Cow! And Marc Schulman, who was new to me, but amazing], and so were the new tunes including Carnivore. She had the quietest audience I've ever seen -- except after the last note of each song died away, when she had the loudest. She was charming and witty and pretty relaxed in front of her hard-core fan base. I'll go into a fit of raving and drooling if I try to say more. I was completely fulfilled. Don't miss the tapes, people -- they'll be so totally terrific... But they won't show the beautiful and intimate Bearsville Theater, which deserves to be a concert venue!
Everyone filed out in a blissful daze; I was high on adrenaline and music. As we hoped, Jewel came out the back door and socialized. Lauren, Liz and I (plus a few others) were probably fun to watch as we hesitated to approach Jewel until she concluded a few 'personal' matters after the concert. When we finally dared to stroll over and greet her, she was of course the perfect hostess. Everyone stood a couple of arm's lengths back from her except for the person actually speaking to her at the time. Her comment: "You are so POLITE! I have people all the time come up to me and say, 'Uh, gimme a kiss sweetheart. Huh huh'" :) I got my courage up and spoke: "You're an inspiration to all of us!" Jewel shyly dipped her head and smiled.
Oh man, I got my picture taken with her! Toni snapped a shot of us standing together after she got a CD signed. Jewel: "Is that your daughter?" Me: "Yes." Jewel: "Oh, she's lovely!" Me: "Yes, she is. And a terrific person." Toni was slightly embarrassed; by which statement I'm not sure. :) Thanks, Jewel. She had to be tired -- it was after midnight local time -- but smiled and signed and hugged and chatted until everyone had a reasonable chance to meet her.
Well, we said a few goodbyes and, dead tired, headed back to the HoJo's after grabbing a snack from the supermarket. Toni and I at least had a couple of hours sleep over the previous day, but Matt and Jeremy had to be toast. We faded into unconsciousness, and woke up more or less simultaneously about 9 AM. We cleaned up and drove into Woodstock for brunch (ran into Lauren, Armand, Jared and Adam, I think), then set out for home. Matt ("Iron Man") started out but finally relinquished the wheel to me after a couple of hours. I picked up from there and did the last 10+ hours by myself. We listened to a lot of Jewel tapes and stopped for a couple of snacks, and 13 hours later, here I am. I'm almost but not quite dead on my feet. I'll probably be back on tomorrow cleaning up some Email replies. It was the best experience I've had in far too many years. Thank you all and good night.
Back to my JewelStock page...