Wait, that dude was famous?

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I’m rarely starstruck. There’s the occasional, “Oh shit, I traded him on Madden” or “What reality show is she from again?” but otherwise, I’m oblivious to a person’s celebrity status.

Recently, I was having drinks at Common Market, shooting the shit and blowing a Tuesday night, when a friend of mine came through with some dude I’d never met. We started talking about music, bands and playing styles, but I felt myself slowly pulling away.

Years of covering music for CL has desensitized me to people telling me about their band or their album. Seriously, everybody has a band or an album. While some are really good and are destined for modest success and decent followings, for the most part, it’s in one ear and out the other. So when this guy started talking about his band performing all over the place, I was essentially tuned out. That was until he said something about meeting ?uestlove, the iconic, afro’d drummer from The Roots. That made me perk up.

Apparently his band wasn’t doing hole-in-the-wall gigs, or little, local shows. He was talking about performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Lopez Tonight. I smelled bullshit but wasn’t about to call him on it.

After catching a solid buzz on the patio, we walked through the alleys by The Penguin, past the little cab company, across the CVS parking lot, to Elizabeth’s Billiards. On our way, he explained to us how he ended up in Charlotte and how good it felt to get a break. The whole time I was thinking, he’s cool but he can’t be serious. How many local bands are getting that kind of national attention?

A few Kamikazes in — a drink I highly recommend if you’re ever at EB’s — we both proved to be equally terrible at pool. Our mutual friend started telling me about how legit this dude’s band really is. “His manager is fucking Randy Jackson,” he laughed. Now I had to do some research.

My sobriety and my Blackberry weren’t in sync right then, so it was later that night when I Google’d his band, Paper Tongues. Holy shit! He wasn’t lying. Every detail checked out. Sure enough, he was their bass player. Randy Jackson was their manager. They’d been on Lopez and Fallon this year. What blew me away even more was their album had been in the Billboard 200 where it was described as “Phoenix-meets-Beastie Boys.” And from Charlotte? That’s crazy.

In my defense, nobody jumped out and recognized him, but I guess you never know who you’re drinking with in Plaza Midwood.

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