Finally, I was able to nab a couple of seats, and sat down to enjoy the show. Matthews kept returning to a tall, opaque glass he had on stage (along with, strangely enough, a talking Jerry Garcia Doll), which made me wonder, as Davidson is a dry venue as far as concerts go. Matthews was evidently working through some kind of sickness, as he kept coughing -- often theatrically -- throughout the performance. He began a concert-long diatribe about falling off a horse, which he promised to finish when he became less paranoid. The normally quiet Matthews, at points, couldn't be shut up, which made me wonder. Paranoia? Run-on stories? Acoustic jam music? Mr. Wiseass behind me might have summed up my conclusion a few seconds later, when he pulled out his cellphone to call his buddies back in the dorm: "Dude, he's positively smokin!"
Saturday night, The Neighborhood Theatre hosted a songwriter's showcase, featuring Jeffrey Dean Foster, formerly of the Pinetops, Concord's Avett Brothers, Vaughan Penn, and the David Childers Band. Somewhat surprisingly, the building was well-filled, if sort of segmented by artist. Your Jeffrey Dean Foster fans, of course, got into Jeffrey Dean Foster, and then mostly dug the diesel-fueled stomp of the Avett Brothers. Avett Brothers fans, a younger-skewed crowd, exulted as their faves nearly brought down the house with their performance (once their set ended, most Avett fans left the house). Next up was Vaughan Penn, who must have felt like The Who going on after Skynyrd during the Southern leg of their 70s tour. Nothing against Penn, who signs her CDs "Peace and Love" and dutifully (wo)mans the merchandise booth before and after the show, but solo songwriters, as a rule, don't go over all that well between bands, especially down-n-dirty roots rockers. Last up was David Childers and his, er, band (earlier that night, Childers mentioned he was looking for a name for his band -- new bassist Mark Lynch voted for "David Childers and R.E.M.") The Childers band -- which, interestingly enough, features folks in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s -- proceeded to kick the evening into overdrive, perhaps scaring a few of the folks that had caught him on Charlotte Talks earlier in the week. Former bassist -- and now judge -- Penn Dameron returned to the stage to play some banjo, with Childers introducing him as "The Honorable Penn Dameron." After an epic jam featuring sitar, banjo, and punk-rock style drumming, the songwriter announced that it was time for the last song -- "so we can all get home in time to see Da Ali G Show." People clapped furiously, though many of them had probably not seen the hilarious HBO series starring the white, English hip-hop wannabe. No matter -- as Ali G himself might say, "Much respect given. Res-pect."