Sunday, September 17, 2006

A concert Southern Style

Where have I been all these years? Obviously kept in a small dark box, because I have never heard of John Prine. In case YOU haven’t either, he is a musician who did a lot of work about 20 years ago, had a run-in with Cancer, survived and is now singing again. Oddly, I had heard quite a few of his songs over time, without knowing the singer. He has recently been very popular for the song “That Flag on Your Car Won’t get you to Heaven any more”…

I am, however, the only person in Chattanooga who didn’t know this guy from John. My Father-in-Law talked us into going to a ‘John Prine’ concert, which sounded like he was asking us to watch the grass grow or the road crew work. The concert ended up being a sold out event, because, I assumed, maybe everyone in Chattanooga LIKED watching the grass grow. We got in a long line of very enthusiastic people and were herded into a very nice old concert hall. The three of us were seated in the nosebleed section, because, what d’ you know, this man is popular!

Now, I’m not saying that this was like any other concert I have been to. Sitting in front of us was one of John Prine’s quintessential fans I think. I had seen this fellow outside and thought he was a poor crazy person waiting for handouts. Nope, he was just a little crazy, in the nicest sort of ways, but still needing an escort just in case. He had long grey hair, in two braids that hung down front, a cowboy hat, big aviator glasses, and overalls with no shirt underneath. He was dark brown from sunshine in such a way that made my Dermatology husband go nuts. He came complete with grizzled graying beard and eyebrows, heavy Southern Country accent and a hoot and holler that could be heard clearly in the next county. Every once in a while, he and is escort would yell and ‘high-five’ from sheer over- stimulation and that was before the concert had started. At one point, his nephew turned to us and somewhat apologetically said, "They don't make 'em like that any more."

The other type of fan, we would come to know, was, surprise again, the somewhat endangered ‘Liberal’. Mr. Prine is actually quite the politically left strumming musician with some very insightful and witty lyrics that endeared him to us forever.

The hall itself came with its own ‘John Prine’ atmosphere. At least it seemed that way. There was a strange foggy curtain hanging over the audience that had no discernable source. The mist was thick enough to be highlighted by the stage lights as they swept across the room. I kept sniffing for a whiff of ganja or cigarette, but there was nothing. We decided it was the sweat vaporizing off the bodies of the audience from the extreme heat and humidity outside into the only slightly cooler inside. Now if that doesn’t make you want to go to a concert in the South I don’t know what would!

The performance turned out to be great fun and a sort of family affair. There were kids dancing with their parents in the aisles and people swaying and holding hands. Everyone would shout out his or her favorite songs to Mr. Prine and he would…respond! He set aside a little time in the concert to try and sing everything people wanted and some of his newer stuff too. (Not that I could tell the difference) My Father-in-Law kept shouting out something that sounded like “Deerabee, Deerabee”, and weirdly, so did a couple of people in front of us including Mr. Overalls. Finally, Mr. Prine sang a song called “Dear Abby,” from which I was filled with relief because 1; I had heard this many times, again, without knowing the artist and 2; It was good to find that my FIL was not joining the ranks of the “Crazy in the best of Ways”, just yet.

I’m not sure how many people this concert hall holds, it’s the Tivoli in downtown Chattanooga, but I’m figuring that just about every left strummin’ individual in the know was there, and we felt somehow at home for a few short hours, relieved from the pressures of trying to find a place in a new town, with new customs and new people. I guess that’s why Mr. Overalls felt comfy there too, so we probably aren’t that different. Except for the aviator glasses. And the cowboy hat. And the overalls with no shirt. And……

1 comment:

souther.woman said...

HaHa. Sounds like a lot of fun! I haven't seen him in concert since 1980 (Cincinnati, small nightclub, lots of Jack Daniels)but still remember it well. Pissing in the Wind ... I understand that he recently married and is now living in my area so I'm sure to catch him again soon.

I'm glad you are starting to experience the culture. HAHAHAHA