Thursday, July 12, 2007

Too. Much. Music. (Is there such a thing?)

So what's that saying about "best-laid plans"?

Mine were kind of altered, again and again, a couple Sundays ago when I went to Summerfest, and as it turned out, I wouldn't change a thing.

One of my goals for the day was to hear some good gospel music (shut up), as they had several groups scheduled on one of the stages. After my other gospel experience, I was curious to see what kind of performances Summerfest could pull in.

Not wanting to subject friends and family to my obsession with gospel music, I made my trip to the world's biggest music festival a solo one. I don't know if I should plant a closed fist upon my forehead with thumb and forefinger fully extended, and declare myself a "Big L" loooooser for going to Summerfest alone. But there. I admit it. I did. (and shhh, don't tell anybody, but...I've done it before, too.)

The gospel celebration was supposed to start at 3:00, but nobody came on stage until nearly 3:30, and they started off with a big long intro about upcoming events and who was in the crowd and backstage. After not hearing any music for quite a while, I walked away to find something, anything, musical at the popular music fest.

I wandered over to listen to Road Trip, an area cover band, for a couple songs, and then went back to the gospel stage, where this time they were handing out awards to several, umm, award-winning dignitaries, I'm guessing. I didn't stay long, and was starting to wonder if my gospel search would produce exactly zero "Hallelujah"s and "Aaaamen!!"s.

My next distraction was a two-man group called Fever Marlene, a couple 20-something guys up on a nearly bare stage...probably not destined for greatness, but for just a drummer and a guitarist, they held their own. Entertaining for a few songs.

As I walked back over to the gospel stage...again...I heard something this time, from yards away. They were singing!! Not just singing...but singing and clapping and swaying and nearly lifting the roof off of the place. I was getting my gospel fix. Maybe not three hours worth like I thought I might. (I wouldn't have hung around for three hours anyway.) A good solid hour of house-rockin' gospel, and the trip was worth it.

Another band I was anxious to see was the Eddie Butts Band. I'd seen 'em once, and they're a totally funky R&B kinda band, with Eddie as the way-too-talented drummer. But the tent they played in was pretty packed, with no seats available. I'd put on a few miles walking, and was looking for a seat. So after one song, I told myself that I'd "seen" Eddie Butts, and went to find a less popular stage.

Cult phenomenon Pat McCurdy was playing on the Harley stage, so I figured I'd stop and watch him for a while. But the Harley stage was packed to the gills with guys in Harley gear and bandanas and leather jackets. I'm assuming they were waiting for the upcoming country act, Big & Rich. And I was sooo curious to see how a crowd like that would react to Pat...a single performer, his guitar, and some catchy ditties. I hope for his sake he won 'em over, cuz Pat's cool like that. I didn't stick around, opting instead for a walk to the next stage, hoping to find a seat.

Here's where I struck gold! The bleachers by the Miller Lite stage were barely half full, so I grabbed a soda, sat down, stretched out, and thought to myself how old I must be, if I was worn out and contemplating going home at 8:30. The latenight side stage act that I wanted to see was Sister Hazel. I was at the right stage. All I had to do was make it through some Bob Schneider guy I'd never heard of, and Sister Hazel was up next. However, that meant leaving the grounds close to midnight, getting home after 1:00, and going to work the next day. If I stayed.

I was starting to talk myself into heading toward my car, when Bob Schneider came onstage. People stood on the bleachers and cheered, and he started with kind of a slow, country-ish song. Easy on the ears, with some talent behind it. His second song was about the same pace, and I got a little curious, so I stepped up on the bleachers and made my way to the closest open spot, about a dozen rows back.

Then he started rockin' a little bit more, and went through songs in his set list that included a salsa kinda thing, some hip-hop/rap kinda funk, straight-on rock 'n' roll, and everything in between. Granted, it may have sounded like he was a bit confused as to what kind of singer/songwriter, but everything he did was pretty well done, and he made a new fan.

Well...more than one. Because after the show over by the merch tent, he came over to pose for pictures and sign autographs. And the girlies went wild for him, all cool in his Ray Bans (it was almost 10 at night, but I'm pretty sure those were to hide his over-baked eyes) and his two-day scruff. One of the girls waiting in line was hoping to get him to sign her breasteses. Ahhh, the life of a rock star.

They recorded that night's performance and burned copies immediately after, so now I'm not only a fan, but I have Bob Schneider in my CD collection as well.

The time spent waiting for my CD was just about the time it took for Sister Hazel to set up and come onstage. I've seen them twice before (once at a county fair without their lead singer, even...he missed his plane), and they're awesome musically in concert. So I stayed. They rocked. I got home late. It was sooo worth it.

I guess I'm not so old after all.

— • — • —

So that got to be a little long and drawn out, didn't it? Turned into a "here's what I did, and here's what I thought" post, as one of my critics has termed it. Sorry. I can talk about music all day, and Summerfest deserves all the exposure it can get, because there's really nothing like it.

But down here, maybe I'll throw out a little question to ponder: How many of you are inclined to do things like that on your own, and who would rather skip those events if there's not someone to go with?...Concerts? Sporting events? Movies? Meals in restaurants?

Several years ago, Counting Crows played in a gymnasium on the UW-Stevens Point campus, of all places. And on a weeknight. And guess who took off work to attend? Alone.

I don't go to too many movies in the theater, but I'm not averse to seeing a movie by myself. And seeing as how I only have three friends (two of whom are imaginary), sometimes they're not available. (and I'll be damned if I'm gonna pay $8.50 for my imaginary pals to sit in a movie theater.)

In the movie Hope Floats, Harry Connick Jr. was eating in a restaurant by himself when Sandra Bullock came in and sat down at a table alone as well. He started to have this dialogue with her about how it takes a brave person to eat by themselves. How you've got to make it look like it's by you're mysterious. (or something close to that. I don't have the movie in front of me.)

Is it really such a horrible thought to do these things alone? Anyone?

"When I die, I want people to
play my music, go wild and freak out
and do anything they want to do."
—Jimi Hendrix


  1. First off, if you have critics, you've made it, congrats buddy.

    Second, in no way, shape or form should you be forced to wear the scarlet "L" on your forehead for such ventures.

    Just yesterday after earlier in the week asking no less then six co-workers to take a couple hours and do 18...I went by myself (alright, since you asked...Crystal Springs outside Seymour and 45/41 with two birds but three doubles...)(and i can only say that it was because of my good living that the first five minute down pour happened beteween holes 6 and 7 where they'd just build a little food shack (it was closed) who's awning kept me dry and then the second 25 minute dogs, cats, lightning, thunder sideways rain one happened just after tee off on number 9 w/in 20 yards of the courses pump house who's door had swung open cuz someone just left the pad lock loose on the bracket instead of locking it...then it was sunny and calm for the back nine...Oh, and I'm not one to get bombed on the course, but i do fancy a beer on the last couple holes if she comes by and she did. She opened up and my eyes jumped, I said how can i pass on ice cold Old Milwaukee in a can? Then she said "and they're only a dollar"...NICE!!!..(by the way, after studying the map on the wall of the pump house I now know where every sprinkle head is on the course)). I probably hit the sticks solo several times a month when nobody else wants to go.

    I also love baseball. And apparently i work with a bunch of communists. When the Rattler schedule came out in December I put in for a 1/2 day for all 8 weekday games this summer (next one is 7/23, watch out for mid afternoon drunken cell phone calls) when others I work with who claim to like baseball, beer and big pretzels have far more vacation than i do.

    Also went down to Miller Park in April solo (again I asked, but no takers). How do you pass up a historic Thursday day game between the "home" Indians and visiting Angels @ Miller Park?

    And except on a rare occasion when some good kids are in town for the weekend, you'll find me at BW's every Sunday with the Eagles on the dish (technically I guess that's no solo cuz even though I don't know his name I consider "Bills Guy" a friend).

    Nobody should feel held back from the things they love to do just cuz other people don't love to do them as much as you (after proof reading my intent was not to rhyme, but there it is...).

    I'm not saying...I'm just saying.

  2. Kudos. I just can't do it. I have never attended a movie, concert, or sporting event on my own. To me, that's part of the fun - experiencing it with someone else.

    I have eaten in a restaurant by myself though. In fact, I can think of exactly two occasions when I did that. One in 1998. The other was in 1984 or so.

    Not bad for 35 years of life. I imagine I'll dine alone sometime in 2012. Know any good places?

  3. I'm polar opposite to "tworiverswalrus" on this point... on many points, actually, but that's not important right now.

    I love going to movies alone. The lights go dark and it's just me n' the BIG SCREEN. Very intimate. It's really ultimately my preferred way to see a movie.

    I've been to three concerts on my own, all of them the alt-country band The Jayhawks. Again, intimacy, total intimacy.

    Dining out? Absolutely. Normally, my schnozz is buried in a sci-fi book, I suppose making me look extra-dorkish.

    "Not only is he alone BUT he's reading Orson Scott Card to boot?! What a loser!"

    Public opinion means nothing to me. I enjoy the company of myself. As a dude with three kids, solitude is a precious commodity. In fact, I think it makes me a better husband and father.

    Take care of yourself first and the rest will follow.

    Nice post Gregg!

  4. TheKid... The last line of your comment, what with the rhyming and all, sounds a bit like Dr. Seuss combined with...Nietzsche, or something. Very profound.

    And go off on better tangents than anyone else I know. (Old Milwaukee in a can?? Eeesh.)

    Walrus... I agree that experiencing those kinds of things with someone else is usually more entertaining, but using that Crows concert as an example, there's no way I would have found anyone else to go along to Stevens Point on a see the Crows. But I wasn't going to pass it up.

    Jeff... Don't worry about looking extra-dorkish. I've just admitted in this blog, not once but twice, my obsession with...yikes!...gospel music.

    And the line that you used..."I enjoy the company of myself"...kept popping up in my post as I was writing it, but ultimately got edited out for one reason or another. However, I couldn't agree more with that statement.

    Also...the Jayhawks? Three times? Nice. I have "Tomorrow The Green Grass," and love it.

  5. I've actually seen them five times total, only twice with a compadre. They used to be semi-regulars at Summerfest's Leinie Lodge.

    Don't get me going on The Jayhawks, I'll use up all your bandwidth.

    Trivia: didja' know that Gary Louris and Mark Olson of the Jayhawks played on August and Everything After?

  6. Hey, I don't know how many times I came across you in the blogosphere, but it took a phone call from my brother for me to realize you were you. Well, shucks howdy, how ya doin?

    Regarding this thread, I like Laurie Anderson's observation: "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." Don't know what that means, but I like it.

    Oh, and I think there CAN be too much music. Kenny G, for example. If we eliminated him, there'd probably be just about the right amount.

  7. Yeah, Greg, it's true...I'm me. I thought maybe there were some hints and clues in some of the other blogs that we frequent that might have given that away.

    Perhaps I just assumed that, though, seeing as how I'm me. And I, um...know who I am. Or something.

    I've seen the Laurie Anderson quote before, and I like it, too. Never danced about architecture, though.