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Monday, August 20, 2007

THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GRANTS PASS

During the course of my work, I sometimes have the occasion to meet someone famous. Mostly they're congressmen or governors, but once I interviewed Marie Osmond in Texarkana. I also interviewed Tracy Lawrence, who I thought was a woman until I learned he was a country music star of some repute.

You see, I don't know much about country music (it wasn't all that popular in upstate New York), but I certainly know who Charlie Daniels is. So when my boss asked me to travel up to a rural county fair to introduce Mr. Daniels, I said, "yes."

I had never been asked to introduce a musical act, but I had been to literally hundreds of concerts, so I had a pretty good idea of how to go about it. The most important part is not spending too much time doing it. Nothing is more annoying than waiting for your favorite band to take to the stage, only to be confronted by some self-important radio or TV person mugging on stage for what seems like an eternity. So a simple strategy seemed the best: welcome the folks out, get them to scream, introduce the band, and get the hell off the stage.

It's an old military truism that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. This would prove to be the case last Wednesday. My co-anchor and I arrived about 30 minutes before the show, and Charlie Daniels was in his trailer doing a meet and greet. About 100 fans were lined up outside, waiting to get photographs, a handshake, and perhaps an autograph from The Man Himself. (This is extremely cool; I respect any artist who will sit down and meet his fans like that.)

As we're standing around, we meet with the tour promoter who gives us an important piece of information we didn't know before we arrived: we wouldn't actually be introducing the band.

"So what exactly will we be doing?"

"Whatever you want. Welcome the crowd out. Tell people 'hello.'"

"Is there anything Charlie wants said before the show, like 'hey, don't throw bottles.'"

"Nope, we've got that all taken care of."

"After we come on, how long until the band takes the stage?"

"About four minutes."

"Oh."

All of the sudden, I understood why all those other TV guys looked like jackasses... they had nothing to do once they took the stage. And in about 10 minutes, I wouldn't have anything to do, either.

The promoter pointed to a stage entrance and said, "We're getting close here, go to stage left and wait for someone to hand you a microphone."

"Ok."

We went to our assigned place and waited. Out comes a woman from the local country music station. She's holding an autographed guitar and explaining how they're going to give it away the next morning on the air.

"Oh crap," I think. "We don't have a guitar. We should really have a guitar."

The woman finishes her presentation and exits the stage. Nobody comes by and hands us a microphone. Moments later, the band takes the stage.

I look around and realize that the corner we were standing in was not stage left, but stage right. They guy pointed us towards the wrong entrance.

Rats!

We stayed and watched most of the show (his live version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" is really quite excellent), then headed off to the fair for kettle corn deep fried food on a stick. A pretty fun night, actually.

Note to regular readers: I usually post baby pics over the weekend, but the camera is not handy tonight. I'll have some posted within the next 24 hours or so.

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2 Comments:

At 2:23 am, Blogger Birchsprite said...

oops

nevermind... love the cheesy photo though!

 
At 8:15 am, Blogger Darrell said...

I guess Ol' Charlie was lookin' for a soul to steal.
It's a shame you didn't get to sream "Are you ready to rock?"
That, of course, would have been followed by "I can't hear you! Are you ready to rock?!"
Somehow, the simplest, juvenile things get a crowd going.
The devil was in the house of the rising sun for you. Glad Charlie was a good o'l boy for you and Julie.

 

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