Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Daryl Johnson Eludes Me Yet Again

Yesterday afternoon after work I headed down to DC to see Daniel Lanois' band Black Dub at the 9:30 Club. Got down there around 4:30pm, so I had a few hours to stand around and wait until the doors opened at 7. I was expecting there to be at least a few other people waiting around, but to my surprise I was the only one there except for venue people and crew people. I parked my car by the alley behind the club and just started walking around when I saw a guy come out of a back door into the alley. I went up and asked him if he was Brian Blade (he was), told him I was a big fan of his work and chatted a little bit about the tour (where they've been playing, where they go next), told him that Art Blakey was my favorite drummer but since he's dead Brian Blade has moved to the top of the list. Asked if I could take a piucture, took a picture, then told him I didn't want to bother him anymore and went back to walking around. Super nice guy. Here's the picture:

Well, because this happened within like the first five minutes, I was super pumped, thinking that the rest of the band would be coming out sporadically for breaks and I'd get a chance to chat with everybody individually and stuff. That didn't happen. I went back to meandering around, occasionally going back by the alley (I was told by a large venue person not to go back into the alley) or just hanging out by the front door, where people also seemed to be coming and going. At one point a guy came up to me and introduced himself as Mark (he looked like a younger version of Willie Nelson), and I asked him if he was Mark Howard, and he said he was. I was really surprised and a little bit blown away. Mark Howard is a guy who engineers a lot of Lanois-produced records, and also engineers, produces, and mixes a lot of records on his own. His resume is like a who's who list of my favorite artists. I told him that it was really amazing to meet him, and that I've seen his name on just about everything I like but never knew what he looked like. He said, "well, this is what I look like." He said I was down there really early for the show, and I explained that I got off work in Baltimore in the afternoon and didn't really feel like hanging out at home for a few hours so I decided to head down to the venue. He said I should stick around after the show and I'd probably get to meet the band, and asked if I knew the area or if I knew of any good restaurants around. I said I didn't. Again, super nice guy. Didn't get a picture.

A little later I saw a woman that looked like Trixie Whitley (lead singer, occasional drums, very occasional guitar) across the street taking pictures of the club. I would have gone over and said hi, but I wasn't sure it was her because she was dressed up in like semi-business attire. So I just hung out and very subtly tried to get in her pictures.

Not much else of note happened before the show. Got inside at seven, had a couple of beers, stood and looked at the inside of the place (which is actually really nice, I didn't get a good sense of it during the Josh Ritter show), was surprised at how it didn't seem to be filling up at all. After the opening act (Rocco Deluca) I was able to go pee (in the restroom) and make it back to my spot in the front row unhindered and with no pushing, elbowing, or shouldering. At most, for the entirety of the evening, the place was maybe half full. Very surprising to me and I'm sure somewhat disheartening for the band. Oh well. It made for a much nicer experience for those of us in the audience.

The show was great. Not a lot of chitchat, but I was close enough (about 3 feet away) to the band members to hear their conversations with each other and to actually have conversations (not really conversations, but sentences back and forth) with them. They're all really fun to watch. Daryl Johnson (bass player extraordinaire) was unfortunately absent, but the person who was subbing was pretty good and funny to watch. Trixie seemed unbelievably self-conscious, seemed at times a little morose or sad or something (maybe the half-filled house?), but has an amazing voice and really got into what she was singing. Lanois was wearing a hat and shades for most of the show, but seemed really warm and happy to be there. Surprisingly (to me) thick fingers. Like farmer's hands. He only played one pedal steel song, which was surpising to me and a little sad. The show lighting was mostly dim and a little dark for my crappy camera to get decent pictures, but here's on of him playing some pedal steel. And then one scary one where I accidentally used a flash (sorry, D.L.!).

Show ended, most people left, a few people (myself included) stayed around as the roadies cleared stuff away. The venue staff gently shoo'd us into the lobby, and a few minutes later, D.L. comes in the lobby. There's maybe 10 people left at this point. I go up to him and shake hands and tell him it was a great show and that I'm a big fan, usual fan stuff, and his handler-person asks if I want to get a picture with Daniel. I say sure and he takes the picture and then moves on to the next person. He seemed a little more interested in the ladies, to be honest. Which is ok with me, I understand. But I was bummed when he then invited two small groups of people (with ladies in them) to go upstairs and have drinks. I didn't get invited. Which bummed me out. Maybe he was insulted when I told him I'd been waiting to see him since I was 10 years old. Hmm. But really, going up and having drinks would've been beyond my wildest imaginings (actually, it would be equal to my wildest imaginings). So I went outside and hung out a little bit (in the hopes that Mark Howard, who was loading up gear into the bus, would see me and invite me up for drinks [no such luck]). But Trixie did come outside right near where I was standing, so I went and shook hands and told her what a great show it was, and how she was really badass on the drums, and she said it was really intimidating to be playing next to Brian Blade, and I told her it took a lot of balls to even be playing next to him. But that she did a really good job. She was really down-to-earth and pleasant to talk to.

Me and Mr. Lanois:

Anyway, it was a really great time. I got to meet some of my musical heroes (Daryl Johnson, I will see you yet!), got to have an adventure on my own in DC, and saw a really great show. I hope that the band is on their way to New York right now, reminiscing fondly about the annoying geek in the orange hat.