Okay here we go... (deep breath)
Day One. 04.21.09
I flew from NYC to Nashville in a tiny jet plane that bounced like we were tumbling in a dryer and I realized I was getting a massive head cold. I was so annoyed at the prospect of being all stuffy and congested when I was supposed to be enjoying Bobby Long and Sam Bradley in the next few days that I decided to be obstinate, ignore it completely, and soldier on.
I checked into the Hilton and took a minute to get the lay of the land by walking over to 3rd and Lindsley to see where the magic would happen in the days to come. It wasn't what I was expecting - a little off the beaten track in a strip-mall away from the center of town, but the poster for the guys was in the window and I started to get really pumped. I just knew the next couple of days were going to be amazing. Turns out I was drastically underestimating, but we'll get to that in a bit...
I was on my own because I didn't stay at the Days Inn with everybody else (My dad nixed that idea. Yes I am an adult, but you know how dad's are and how can you not love them for it?), so I got a text from Lizzy saying we were all going to meet at the Ruby Tuesday's across from where we were seeing How To Be at the Nashville Film Festival. I hopped in a cab and made my way to meet my second batch of Dreamers. I had met Cyn in NYC, but everyone else was a new face, if not a new name, but we all became fast friends. Lizzy greeted me with a big hug like we were old friends (which I feel like we are now) and I met Tara, and our Vamp Radio girls Amy and Gina, and about half dozen other Dreamers who were obviously also Rob fans as well. We munched on some chicken tenders and nachos before watching Rob transform into the the most sad-sack ball of neuroses you just wanted to hug so bad (while possibly bitch-slapping his mother - although she shaped up quite a bit in the end).
I really loved How To Be. I thought it was really funny and sweet. This kinda movie is right up my ally though... quirky and off-beat and focusing on 20-somethings trying to find their direction in life... let's just say I'd be lying if I said I couldn't relate. Then again I watch anything and everything cause I just love movies.
After the movie we ran a few errands and to my dismay, my stop was Walgreens. My head cold was getting worse by the minute so I stocked up on DayQuil, Airborn, and Puffs and started to self-medicate. Congestion be damned.
Cyn and I chitchatted in her room for a bit about the guys - what she missed at Arlene's in NY, what I'd missed in LA - and then Lizzy and others came to bond. While everybody headed out to The Big Bang (dueling piano bar) I realized if I didn't sleep, I would have no chance to stave off my cold and fully enjoy the next couple days. So I went to bed and missed the fun others will have to catch you up on. Boy I'm glad I did though...
Day Two. 04.22.09
I woke up feeling significantly better thanks to my early-to-bed plan. I then met Cyn for lunch and we went on our own little driving tour of the city. Why does Nashville have a full scale replica of the Parthenon? Beats the heck out of me, but it's pretty cool. Saw the Ryman, the new Grand Ole Opry, a Dukes of Harzard themed bar and some other local gems.
While we were doing this, Lizzy was having her interview with the guys (how could I not be jealous?) and apparently it went really well which I'm sure she will tell you. We are all waiting on pins and needles to see the footage from it and finally see documentation of Bobby hiding in his jacket and Sam materializing a pickle from his pants (shame on you - that's not what I mean at all!).
As 5 o'clock rolled around, the time for biding our time was through and we headed down to 3rd and Lindsley. Turned out we were late and had missed the line out the door to get in, but thanks to our awesome Dream-Team, we all got amazing seats. We proceeded to make the rounds introducing ourselves to each other and I made my way to purchase "Dirty Pond Songs" in person even though I had pre-ordered it in NYC. I ran into Alyce who remembered me and Phil who was more than a little fuzzy about who I was. This was funny considering how much time I had spent with him in NY and that we've emailed, but not surprising considering his lack of sleep, alcohol consumption at the time, and the LA whirlwind in between our meetings.
I had altered my Bobby/Whisky poster to say "3rd and Lindsley - SOLD OUT" and ironed it on a t-shirt which I wore to the show. When Phil saw it, he called it "fantastic" and asked me to send him one. He offered to trade me one of the shirts for sale for one of my own creation and I had to laugh. I told him I already owned 2 of Bobby's official shirts, but that I would be more than happy to send him one, no bartering required. I also told him I had another shirt to show him and that I would be right back...
See Phil and I had discussed me helping out by designing some shirts for Bobby's summer tour after I made the poster and I made a mockup of one of them to give Bobby which had the lyrics for Being a Mockingbird on it. When Phil saw it, his face lit up like a Christmas tree. He asked if he could take it back to Bobby and I, of course, said yes, but am still wishing I had seen Bobby's face when he saw it. Apparently he liked it though because when he took the stage, the second song he played was Being A Mockingbird and he dedicated it to "some girl gave me a t-shirt and this is on it, so this is for her". I nearly died. It was so sweet of him and completely unnecessary and left me grinning like an idiot all night. Jenny can tell you, I kinda spazzed.
He also dedicated a well deserved song to Lizzy - A Passing Tale. We both flustered from across the room at each other in fangirl solidarity.
Bobby was amazing, there's no surprise there. I had already seen him preform 3 times in NY, but I was more eager than ever to see him play again because now I knew how good he was in person... how each time I am just more and more astonished by how transfixing he is. You literally cannot look away when he plays.
Bobby also had some amusing antidotes to share with us...
- He once had a dog named Nashville who ran away. His mom told him he went to Nashville, but "he's not here".
- That he basically never plays Two Tone Lover. He just recorded it once, but "then (we) got our hands on it". :)
- Some one called out "lust" and he was like like what "What? Lost? What does that mean?" - "No, LUST - she wants you," someone replied. Bobby's response: "Um, well. *bashfull grin* That's... okay."
- He started singing, "T for Texas, T for Tennessee," and when he got applause, he stopped and said, "wait, that's not mine."
- On his songs being mislabeled and backwards on his EP - "That's just a quirky little English thing."
Bobby finished his set with Dead and Done and prefaced it by saying, "Thank you so much for the support. For me, Sam, and Marcus. It really means a lot. Hopefully it will be like this for the rest of our lives." Have I mentioned how much I love Bobby Long? He doesn't say much, but what he does say is so earnest it nearly breaks your heart.
We all sent him out right by singing along to every word and leaving a humble, but beaming grin on his face.
Next up...Mr. Sam Bradley - The reason I had to come to Nashville.
See, as much as I desperately wanted to see Bobby again, I had no idea when I might get to see Sam if I didn't pony up and get myself to Tennessee. I was so not disappointed, I can't even tell you. He is a hoot and a half to say the least. And the contrast between him and Bobby is so blatant it practically slaps you in the face. While Bobby is very emotive on stage, he's pretty stationary, and mostly keeps his head down and his eyes closed while he plays. Sam on the other hand basically bursts onto the stage. He couldn't stop jumping up and down, wisecracking, and beaming from ear to ear as he searched the audience throughout each song. While bouncing like Tiger from Winnie the Pooh, he said "I just can't help it. I want to be taller!"
"There are lots of f***ing people here," he said flabbergasted as he took to the mic. Later he called us "the best crowd (he's) ever played to" and then got self-conscious as he tried to explain how that just came out and it wasn't calculated.
Sam also dedicated a song to Lizzy and actually dragged her up on stage. It was a pretty flipping fantastic moment to say the least.
Other beguiling Sam moments...
- Sam gave Bobby a shout out in the middle of his set saying, "Wasn't Bobby Long really good? One of my best friends in the whole world and I'm very proud. He did a good job."
- "You're more than welcome to sing," he said, but then he qualified it, "if you feel it, but don't if you don't. I don't want any, 'OOoooEEEEEoooOOAAA!!!'. Let me do that."
- He said "stimulate control" during Scared instead of "simulate" and interrupted himself to say "stimulate?!?" and then when he said it correctly he confirmed, "That's right!"
- He sang the song That's How Strong My Love Is by O. V. Wright, and had to check his hand where he had written the name to get it right. The audience laughed and and then he pretended that "Nashville" was on a cheat sheet on the back of his guitar when he said, "It's great to be here in... ah, Nashville?"
- He sang the song Like A River about gun laws by his mom Lee Lindsey and talked about how he came to Nashville with her when he was a a kid when she was trying to make it. He got serious for a minute and asked everybody to really listen to the song because it "very powerful" and started to play, but then he realized he needed to tune his guitar, broke the mood and kidded, "It's a very powerful song, please don't let humor destroy it! *smirk*"
- Also when he was about to sing Too far Gone and the crowd got a little rowdy, he tried to calm them down and said, "As Conan O'Brien would say, 'Keep cool my babies!'" and did a little impression. Priceless.
After the show, we all hung out to try to talk to the guys but there we so many people and a bunch of us knew that we would get to see them tomorrow at the meet and greet, so we weren't that concerned and tried to let others have their moments... But I had to snag Bobby just for a second at the end to say thank you for the dedication and give him a quick hug. When he saw me, I saw immediate recognition in his eyes as to who I was and it made me really happy. (Understatement of the decade BTW)
Bobby then had to be whisked away because he hadn't eaten yet and we all made our way to the parking lot for an impromptu Vamp Radio show with The Kins. They had been the opening act for our guys and apparently they're song Together from the TV show Moonlight had been the inspiration for Vamp Radio in the first place. Stars aligning or what? I tell you, there was magic in the air or something. Things kept falling into place. I was so amazed by Amy and Gina. In 15 minutes they set all this all up, got them on the air, and had them singing live acoustically. They blew my mind. Apparently they also blew The Kins' mind a little to because they wanted to come hang out with us - but their car died. So we gave them a jump, leaving them even more in love with our ragtag group and we went on our merry way to The Big Bang again where we paid $20 dollars so they could get on stage and sing an acoustic version of When Doves Cry. I did feel kinda bad for the guys actually payed to play there though - they said they only had one rule, "No sounding better than us!" The Kins totally did. They have this crazy in-synch Australian, brother harmony thing going on.
Anyway, time went by, The Kins took off and we stayed, deciding to hang out on the balcony so a bunch of people could smoke. Low and behold, by the grace of God I swear, Celeste's husband Seth says, "Your guys are down there." We all start freaking out being like, "Who, what? Our guys? Where!?" We look over the balcony and see Sam, Bobby, Phil, Alyce, et al walking down the street. I pretty sure others were calling out to, but it's all such a blur. All I know is I called "Sam" then "Bobby" with no luck. Turns out "Phil" was the magic word. They all look up, recognize us, and Sam, god love him, takes off like a shot to come find us. I do so love Sam Bradley. The rest of the gang follows his lead and the next thing you know we are all hanging out with Bobby, Sam, and Phil having drinks, shooting the breeze, talking like old friends, having our heads explode. You know, the ush.
Right before they came in we were all standing by the door like a big bunch of British starved losers and Lizzy and Jenny and I just look at each other a go, "We can't do this, we have to be cool. We have to at least pretend to be cool." So we head to the bar and try to act nonchalant. I guess it worked cause when they come in Bobby makes his way over and he and Lizzy start up this great conversation which I felt very privileged to be a part of a couple times. Bobby was saying how he knows people want him to smile more and let people get to know him better, but I told we didn't. We just want him to be himself and do what he feels comfortable with. To each their own. No one is looking for him to be Sam, just like we're not looking for Sam to be like Bobby...or Marcus for that matter. To which Bobby replied, "Marcus is just silly." Which was sorta priceless. He said all his favorite singers are still a mystery to him and that he wants to be able to "do this", as in hang out with us and have a "great time," while not letting us know him all that well. He wants to remain private, but accessible. He actually couldn't find the word "accessible" and I offered it up, to which he replied, "Yeah, exactly. You have a way with words. You should be a writer." I don't think I said anything because I was so flabbergasted at the thought that this amazing writer who crafts brilliant songs that leave me floored thinks I have any kind of eloquence when in reality I generally tend to put my foot in my mouth and then trip for good measure. Surreal moment to say the least.
A couple people needed to be introduced to Bobby before they had to leave the next day, so I made some introductions and then seized my opportunity to finally meet Sam for the first time who was chatting with Lizzy's husband Kevin across the way.
The funny thing was Sam and I had kinda already met in this weird way because like I said, Sam kept looking out into the audience during his performance that night and making eye contact with people. And because I was sitting against the wall on the back of my chair and was therefore raised up above the crowd a little, he kept looking over at me and smiling cause he could see really clearly that I was mouthing all the words. When I walked up to him, I said "I haven't actually had a chance to introduce myself yet..." and the first words out of his mouth were, "I don't know if you noticed, but I kept looking over at you during the set." My response: "Um, yeah, of course I did Sam Bradley *Are you kidding me?!*. I told him I was Thaifer, the graphics designer for site and he jumped up, said, "That's you!" and gave me a big hug. He was like "you won the icon contest and you posted this and that..." I tell you Dreamers, watch your posts, the eyes of Sam Bradley are on us us all. He's very attentive. Hi Sam! (just in case)
The funny thing is that for what ever reason he said when he reads my name on screen, he says it as "There After" in his head so he started calling me that, which I'm just gonna say, is awesome. Statement of fact.
We chatted for a while about how appreciative he is of all that the LOD does. One girl called us "fans" and Sam said, "no," he doesn't think of us as just fans, but as "supporters." That we really don't just want to fawn over them - We want this to happen for them and we'll do what we can to make it happen. I basically just told him I'm really happy he understands that and that we are here to be whatever he needs us to be. I also got a chance to meet Mark, the newest member of Sam's team who could not have been nicer and whom I think we will all be hearing a lot about/from in the coming months.
Anyway, Lizzy comes over and invites Sam to come outside to smoke and we all start making our way to go, but Sam gets distracted by these other non-LOD girls that grab his attention. Knowing we might lose him and how bummed our girls would be, Nikki and I head back and wait patiently for a moment to interject which doesn't really come. Out of no where Sam reaches over and holds my hand and give it a squeeze while still carrying on his other conversation. Nikki who is standing between us looks down and then looks over at me with this face that says, "Dude!" and I'm like "I know!!" (Seriously Sam if you end up reading this could you skip past this part to the less fangirl-heart-palpitation
portion of the tale? I'd find it a lot less embarrassing.) So then the conversation breaks, the other girls get distracted and he hesitates for a moment trying to be polite, but then abandons that plan, says "Let's go!" and we head outside.
Can I just say strolling up to our group in step with Sam and being able to say, "I brought you something," in reference to Sam Bradley was so fricken cool.
Sam then takes center ring. Literally actually, as we have all managed to form an oblong circle with our chairs surrounding him. Cyn bends his ear for awhile and the look on his face of stunned awe as he surveys the scene and realizes he doesn't know how he got here, surrounded by all of us, playing sold out shows, and talking about his future. -- Pretty priceless.
At one point Phil leans over to talk to Sam and he's wearing his LOD laminate and instead of listening to Phil, Sam just grabs the laminate, whips out a Sharpie and starts rambling about, "Oh, hello. You'd like an autograph then? What's your name again sir?" and signs Phil's laminate. At which point I'm pretty sure Phil called him a "cheeky bastard." lol
Next thing I know Bobby has set up camp next to Sam and Sam has him in a headlock and is giving him a big brotherly hug. They're pretty adorable together. Scratch that. They're seriously adorable together.
Not to stop and get all sentimental, but it really makes me genuinely happy that we are not just helping 3 musicians, but that we're helping 3 friends. That they are rising to the top not necessarily together, but simultaneously and enjoying it concurrently. That they can share this time and these emotions with each other because they are all going through the same thing and it's possibly even bringing them closer together. That we are helping them in any small way find the kind of happiness that I witnessed just radiating off them these past couple days is unbelievable. It's really humbling to bear witness to, much less be a part of to any degree.
Anyway, I will have to pick this up tomorrow. I am beat.
To be continued...