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Just A-Walkin' The Dog

Bigtime journalism, sneaking drinks, and bluegrass cellphones

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Nothing gets a journalist's juices flowing quicker than mention of a free meal. Or T-shirt. Or CDs, DVDs, or books on tape. The Jeep Outdoor Tour, which had parked itself at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, invited us last Tuesday to a press luncheon, replete with loads of lookalike alt-rockers, other local press (the Observer and some local weatherman who forgot his pen and kept borrowing mine), and free, all-you-can-eat grub. We were told to arrive at noon, but Lynn Farris and I waited till nearly 3:30 before I was able to interview headliner Sheryl Crow. In the meantime, we sat on deck chairs under a shaded sort of veranda and invented ways to entertain ourselves. Lynn checked out a picture of Brad Pitt in Outside magazine. I made a game of seeing how many different brands of $100+ ripped up "vintage" jeans I could spot on the up-and-coming alt-rockers seated beside us. Another fun thing to do was devise creative ways of telling Verizon, other media folks, and the aforementioned cookie cutter bands that no, in fact, you don't want to interview them. After a few hours of this, we were moved to another covered patio, and brought bottles of water to help fight the blistering heat. It's a rough life. Finally, like a mirage, Crow appeared, bounding out of a golf cart with her dog, Scout, on a leash, plus a makeup person, a hair person, and a dog walker. Crow was dressed for a casual lunch, wearing tight leather pants, a tank top, and stiletto heels. Dressed in a baseball cap and thrift-store button-down, I felt like Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver. Crow didn't disappoint those expecting a star's entrance; spotting another dog, Oliver, belonging to the band Pseudopod (author's note: Pseudopod?). "Whose dog is that?" she asked, in a (mock?) angry tone. "Get them off the tour!" After enduring an endless interview with the pen-less weatherguy, Crow made her way to my table. Wherein her hair/make-up person came over and touched her up. . .for a print interview. I asked if he could give me a quick touch-up, too, as I was covered in sweat by that point, and likely scaring Ms. Crow. Obviously not used to sarcasm, he responded with a blank stare that said "and just who do you think you are, you sweaty little boy?" I said nothing and averted his eyes, though in my head, I had a mohawk. "You talkin' to me? Are you talking to me?" -- TCD

That's why they're always happy: The Dave Matthews Band played Verizon Friday night, by which time my vengeful fantasies had fallen prey to the feel-good, Trustafarian vibes of Matthews & Co. More fun than Dave, however, was watching folks decide how to smuggle unmentionables into the facility. To get past security, many kids put their expensive college educations to good use. There was the shoe technique, in which folks hid "airplane bottles" of beverage in their shoes (They're called airplane bottles for a reason. Drink a couple and you'd be surprised how easily they fly.) There was the Pancho Villa method, in which folks lined their waistbands with the stuff like so many bullets. There was the cap method, always a safe-bet at Abercrombie-friendly DMB shows. Of course, there was always the popular pound-the-hell-out-of-it-in-the-parking-lot method, which many folks took advantage of. Myself? Arriving late, I just found an old, nearsighted security guard who couldn't give two dimes what you had as long as it wasn't a gun. Maybe hearing laidback Dave rubbed off on him. -- TCD

Bluegrass Frenzy: An unexpected number of folks showed up Saturday for the Down From the Mountain Tour at Cricket Arena. The show, which had suffered slow ticket sales, featured most of the stars from the soundtrack of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? like Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, Dan Tyminski and Norman Blake, as well as the likes of Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless and the Del McCoury Band added for good measure. The unanticipated numbers caused some complications. The overflow in the main lobby sent ticket sellers scrambling to open more windows while an impromptu autograph session with Stanley sent merchandise vendors into a frenzy as fans snatched up memorabilia for him to sign. Most of the canned beer vendors ran out before intermission which forced hoards of thirsty folks to stand in long lines at the concession stands where they bled the kegs bone dry till nothing but foam filled the cups. The lady at the Bavarian Nut booth even ran out of nuts! The arena was nearly full for the more than three hours of good ol' bluegrass, folk and mountain roots music. And, as I can always count on, in a crowd that consisted mostly of khaki-clad baby-boomers, sprinkled with a few young bohemians and good ol' boys, a very enthusiastic (and buzzed) redneck with a cellphone no less, was seated right beside me. His best friend couldn't make it ""cause his wife wouldn't let him come," so in between hoots and hollers he'd call his buddy to let him hear Emmylou and the rest of the bunch. Every time he'd raise that phone in the air, I'd think to myself, O Brother, Why Me? -- LF

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