Monday, August 6, 2007

Third Time's a Charm

Rhett Miller

Like I mentioned last post, last weekend I was lucky enough to see my favorite band, the Old 97's for the third time in three years. A friend and fellow-fan told me she was seeing the 97's in Dallas, so I checked their website since I hadn't in a while. And whaddya know if they weren't going to be in Baltimore the very next weekend! Google maps told me it was just an hour drive so I immediately decided I would go to the show.

I didn't even check the details on the venue, Artscape, until the next day. And that was surprise #2: Artscape was a weekend-long, completely free arts festival. Now I knew I had scored big time.

But the best part of the story is that, working at Folkways, I had heard that the lady who worked with Smithsonian Global Sound knew Rhett Miller, the lead singer for the Old 97's! I talked to Amy and, sure enough, her boyfriend had recently played guitar with Rhett while he was on a solo tour. Actually, Rhett had set them up. She said Rhett was a sweetie and that I should say hey if I got a chance. So then I decided I would try to meet the guys at the show. (FYI - that's Rhett belting one out, head band and all, up top)

So the whole week at work I was super pumped about the show. I even downloaded some music to listen to and set a picture of Rhett as my computer background at the office. When Saturday rolled around, I woke up and enjoyed a nice hour drive blaring the music and not trying wreck northbound on 95. Getting to Baltimore was a nice drive, and it is a beautiful city. Until I came up the hill over looking the city, I had no idea how massive it was.

Like I said, Artscape was a big festival, so I got there in plenty of time to explore before the band went on at 8:30. There was every type of art work you could imagine, lots of good albeit overpriced food, and constant music on three stages all day, each day. They had everything from rock to blues to rap to zydeco. In addition to the music and art, there were random little things, like the fashion show. I was exploring the festival area, which is huge and covered a section of downtown Baltimore, when I came up on this mock runway. I walked over and there was like an amateur fashion show going on. It was pretty neat - they were featuring local designers. Even though it wasn't big time or anything, it was cool to see a pretty much real fashion show.

Another interesting thing they had was a row of cars done up in all different kinds of wacky and crazy themes.


This one, I’ll call it the Woodtruck, was by far the coolest. It really must have taken a long time to put this one together. And if you look closely you can see it even had a giant bird’s nest and blue robin eggs in the back!

After grabbing some delicious jerk chicken cooked fair-style over a huge makeshift grill, as well as going through the Smoothie King free sample line twice, I headed over to the stage where the show was gonna be. When I got there another band was finishing up, the Avett Brothers, and they were pretty neat.

The Avett Brothers

As you can see, they had a guy on upright bass, banjo, and guitar and their sound has some obvious mountain/bluegrass/old time roots. But then they themselves seemed like indy punk rockers and they would scream out the lyrics at times. Either way, they are a really unique band. The last song they played was so good I went and asked the guy selling cd's if they had one with that on it. He said they did, but since he was an honest guy let me know it was a bad cut and I could find a better one on a different CD he didn't have. I checked it out when I got home and fell in love. I downloaded it for now, but as soon as I get some cash I plan on buying it.

But then the real show kicked off. The Old 97’s, as always, put on a great show full of rollickin tunes as well as some slower-paced wailers for breathing room. They just had so much energy and the crowd was loving it.

Ken Bethea

There’s guitarist Ken Bethea ripping it up. And the action was just like that, from the first notes to the last chords of “Timebomb.” Although I was sad to see it end, there was still one more treat in store for me. I hung around after the guys went off the stage and ended up chatting with Ken for a bit about Knoxville and the Simpsons. He was a super nice guy.

Murry Hammond and Me

Then I caught up with Murry Hammond, backup vocals and bass, to tell him he did a great Merle Haggard cover. That’s him above, complete with his patented weird glasses and cowboy shirt look.

Rhett Miller and Me

To top it all off, I was able to get Rhett’s attention right before some crew lady told him it was time to go. I told him how I knew Amy and he was like “ya cool Amy’s great.” Then when I asked my name and I told him, he said the now famous quote: “Wow, you should be a writer.” I thought that was funny and would make a good story, just like the goofy picture I took with him. After that he said “hey man I gotta go” and I was like “Sure take care.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I met the Old 97’s. None of it is probably too impressive to most people, but it’s really cool to talk to your favorite band.

Great concerts aside, intern life has been slowly winding down. A while ago Katie left, and just last Friday was Catherine’s last day. I’m done this Friday, and it really has flown by.

the intern gang

Here is the Folkways intern crew, or atleast most of it. From left to right: Catherine, Katie, Aleysia, me, and Andrew. Interning at Folkways was a really great experience. I got to meet a lot of interesting people from all over. We had people from Tennessee, Virginia, Maine, New York, and Germany, while representing schools such as Rice, William & Mary, U of Toronto, and, of course, CENTENARY!!

Seriously though, if anyone is looking for a neat internship experience, the Smithsonian should definitely be on your list. I’m not trying to plug it, but with so many museums and centers there really is something for all academic interests and professional goals. And in general, interning is a great way to meet interesting people and see a new side of the world.

I realize this is starting to sound a bit campy, so I’ll sign off for now. See you guys later,


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