I met ray lamontagne and chris thomas after the show last night (and managed to be a big girl about it)

um, yeah. hi.

!!!

it's true what conor says, that it's the ones with the sorest throats that have done the most singing. or, in my case, screaming at the top of my lungs with sheer and utter glee.

see, my first run-in with fame was sometime back around 1989-90. I was about thirteen years old, and I was doing some junior bridesmaid modeling at a bridal fair. bad perm, glasses, braces - ew. topped off with a shiny turquoise dress. as I was stumbling through this particular stage, michael damien (remember him? he covered "rock on" and shot to fame as a one-hit wonder and a star on general hospital) was reaching the peak of his career with a hit tune in a corey & corey flick. what does this have to do with me, you ask? well, he was the star of this particular show, scheduled to walk out the prettiest girl in the most gorgeous dress, fanfare, etc. - and I was going to get to meet him, being one of the models and all.

I use that term very, very loosely. I would insert the picture here if I had one.

now, (a) I thought he was an idiot and (b) I thought I looked like an idiot, and one of these thoughts was going to be the predominant emotion when we met. I lost miserably. when they introduced him to me, I couldn't speak. I started sweating and stuttering and making a general ass of myself. and I've remembered every moment, ever since it happened. it doesn't like, plague me or anything, but whenever I talk about being anxious around someone famous, I remember that night.

fast forward to a lucid, coherent, bordering on kind of cool conversation with ray lamontagne - one of the three people in my "what bands / artists are you into right now" section on the kexp member survey I just filled out, along with the frames and the decemberists.

so, yeah. the show was fucking awesome. and I was a big girl. we all were, really... but I'll start from the beginning.

(cue "please come to boston in the springtime")

after a little bit of a late start, kacia and I head up around 3:30. full tank of gas and great expectations. I've got the live chicago show on as loud as it can go, and we're both freaking out. we're going to see ray. we're going to see ray! kacia drops a gem and says, "isn't this against the rules?" I know, I know - but as with most things, I couldn't help myself. as glen puts it,

maybe it's 'cause we can't wait
that keeps us always regretting

which usually gets me in trouble. but not tonight.

we arrive, we park, I look up and I'm like, hey, what the - I realize I'm standing on the back side of kristin's old dorm. miles standish hall. I launch into stories of the citgo sign and drunken rounds of "you don't know jack" as we head for some dinner. which ended up consisting of awesome salad wraps and hot indie boys eating burritos. yum, and yum.

the navigation isn't tough and in about five minutes we're at the club. it's probably around 7:10, and doors have just opened. shea and nick are coming, and we're hanging out waiting due to the fact that I'm holding all four tickets. now fast forward twenty minutes - what seems to be about three hundred people have gone in before us, and I'm pacing the sidewalk. almost in tears. I didn't come to stand in the back! I'm such a baby. we wound up in front, stage right, as always. but I'm also chronically monica about some things, and I have no problem being way uncool and lining up early for a show so that I can choose a good spot to watch from. I've got no one to impress, except for myself. and that's going just fine.

so they finally come walking up, and I've already sent kacia in to hold the fort. oh - there was a random TB encounter. I almost went right past it. while we were waiting initially, realizing we couldn't stand in line after two cycles of getting to the door and having to step out (hoping that they'd be coming up the sidewalk at any moment) we finally started playing around. wandering and investigating and standing with our ears pressed to one of the stage doors. is that soundcheck? that sounds like someone covering "watchtower", doesn't it? and all of a sudden, kacia gives me The Look. she thinks she's spotted TB, and I sort of don't care and sort of do. so I look, of course, and he very un-smoothly almost sees me but manages to avoid my gaze while talking to the people he came with. when he gets to the front of the line (where he is more able to disappear rapidly without conversing), he looks back and waves.

but - well, I'm just not going to get into it. I'll quote glen again:

everybody fucks up
it's just somethin'
that's been
goin' round...

back to the show.

I'm like, shea, we have to run to where kacia is before we deal with anything else. and he cuts through the crowd like a pro - we weave our way to the floor, and there's kacia, searching the faces. we're in! we're up front! I hug her and hug shea and apologize for my MB (that would be Monica Bing) attack. shea wanders off with nick for food and bev, and I put some sparkles on kacia's face. the light is perfect for it.

we wait, we chat, we meet the girl behind us. actually I say, "hi, I'm about fifteen right now, but I'll be good when he comes on, I promise." she says, "hey, if I have to pee, you guys will like, hold my spot, right?" she's in. her name is sarah and it's her first live ray experience. and writing that now, I think seeing the show at the paradise qualifies as catching ray's first tour, ever. which totally rocks.

after what seems like forever, through bad, bad adult rock songs blaring from the wall of speakers in front of us, ray arrives. he's got on an orange t-shirt with JERK across the chest in iron-on letters, and a brown bowler with a feather in it. a plume in his helmet. mountain man beard and that soulful gaze. I am jumping up and down, and am teetering on a possible implosion. sparkles and stagelights and ray all abound gracefully.

he played so much, but not how come and three more days, I think. joleen, shelter, burn, ali you should be a married woman now, trouble, you should belong to me, hold you in my arms, hannah, all the wild horses - string section and all... along with a rockin cover of "so tired" by the kinks, washed in red lights and pure total rock and roll. chalk that up to more musicians with their flawless choices of covers. so he plays all of those and probably a bunch I'm forgetting about too, most familiar and some new, and all amazing.

oh yeah - I'm morphing into kristin. while talking to the guy at the counter in the burrito place, he goes, isn't ray lamontagne folky? I'm like, a little, but he's a great singer / songwriter with a tremendous stage presence. he's flawless.

she's taking over my language and I love it. or, maybe a more accurate statement is that I am learning how to speak my mind and it's in tune with KD and I love it.

it's also worthy to note here that after a particular song sarah screamed out the following:

"that's going to be my wedding song!"
"when I get married!"
"to you!"

and turns around in total victoria style, knees bent, eyes wide, hands over her mouth. I seize the moment. "yeah, you did," I say, never wanting to miss an opportunity for an oh-no-you-didn't and we're laughing our asses off. she can't believe that she's just said the quiet part out loud, screamed it, actually, and I'm not doing it justice because it was so fucking funny and perfect. he plays on... and on...

and he leaves us wanting. I'm screaming and losing feeling in my knees. of course they return, and I yell, "play can I stay! please? please!" and he looks right at me - right. at. me. and had we not met after the show, that would have been enough. I spoke. he heard me. I have confirmation and witnesses. and they rock us out with a song or two, and the whole room shushes for the last song. he was probably planning on playing it anyway, but the locked gaze made me feel like it was just for me, if but for a moment. shea takes my hand and I close my eyes and get blown away. on the verge of tears, and shouting with joy as he leaves us. totally good show in its own right, just as good as the intimacy of the paradise but with a totally different feel. worth every moment and every penny.

we explode outside after singing some more bad, bad soft rock that's pumping through the speakers. we tumble and giggle through the construction barrels and broken sidewalks, back over the bridge to store 24. shea wants cloves. I want to stalk. sarah calls, and wants to know what we're up to. I'm down for stalking. so is kacia, I mean, it's like, 10:00. shea wishes us well, as does nick, and we make our way back to the club.

once sarah is located, I begin full blown site inspection. I'm casing the joint. there's no back door, no other side, so we're keeping an eye on the couple of doors where ray could possibly leave from. we spot chris, we spot the drummer, we spot the family. all the while discussing what we would actually do if we see him - be cool. be cool. no crazy groupie freakouts.

yeah. and we're standing out in the cold, because we're stalkers. but we are cool about it, if I do say so myself. after about a half an hour, we enlist the help of dominic. dominic is the head bouncer, who has begun departure with "hey, I gotta go - like the epileptic said, I'll seize ya later!" and I can't help but laugh. he's all kinds of cool. yeah, baby, peace, for sure baby, for sure... he actually goes and finds out for us that ray has in fact not left yet and that we've got a great vantage point. we talk to him for a while and keep our eyes peeled. turns out the tour manager hasn't left, so ray must still be inside.

he comes out. there he is. be cool, be cool - we call after him, "great show ray! thanks ray!" and we cheer and clap a little, and he smiles and waves. and dominic is all, what are you guys waiting for? and runs into the street to get to the other side of their van. we bustle up the sidewalk. he stops ray and says something like, do you have a minute to talk to some fans? these lovely girls have been waiting. and ray and chris both turn to us. "sure." soft spoken and - just all kinds of ray. and we handle it like such grown ups - we shake hands and introduce ourselves, and chris gives all of us full blown hugs. I get to talk to ray first.

"hey, that was great - I heard you on KEXP, do you remember the in-studio?"

"oh yeah -"

"well, I heard hold you in my arms and it made me cry and -"

"oh, I'm so sorry," with this look, like he could have taken my hand and consoled me for hours, all with a glance -

"no, no - it was good - and I bought four tickets and your album and saw you at the paradise a few months ago and it was great. and tonight was great, really -"

"oh, thanks so much," smiling, really participating, looking right at me. he's soft and calm and tremendously powerful all at once. he's got soothing hands. and I have to say, to back up kacia - he's got some serious sexual energy. you wouldn't expect it, maybe because of the beard and stuff. but he is Sexy. Sex. Y.

"really, you're brilliant, I mean, thank you. thank you so much. did you guys just get back from europe?"

"no, well, yeah, we had to cut it short because I got the flu and I was in the hospital for a night so we'll have to go back I think, and -"

"oh, man, are you okay?"

"yeah, it's fine now-"

and then chris thomas is hugging me, and sarah and kacia are talking to ray, and I'm talking in detail with chris about the difference between the paradise and this show and the in-studio and how I can't wait for sasquatch - and he looks at me, a little bewildered - and I'm like, "it's this big outdoor thing in washington state that you're playing on memorial day weekend." and he's like, "oh, right on, well we'll see you guys there, right?" and I'm like, "well, if I can make it through the other twenty nine thousand people, yes." it was this perfect moment, he had no idea -

we should go. the tour manager is a little fussy. we start our departure, and sarah is ready to propose marraige... we shake hands again, and I leave with, "thanks ray, you're brilliant, really, we love you" and he thanks me back and they finish packing up the gear and stuff as we walk away.

at full volume, with all the dogs in the greater boston area wincing:

WE JUST MET RAY LAMONTAGNE! AND CHRIS THOMAS! ARE YOU KIDDING? OH MY GOD! GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! we're running away, gushing and laughing and shaking and singing and full of everything the night saw fit to give us. we can't go home. we can't leave yet. we have to pee and talk and call everyone we know (well, the two people that know and love ray) and we stumble into bertucci's and sit down, bubbling over with glee.

we relive everything over coffee and sodas and hot bread and olive oil. with a sweet waiter that just lets us be, with our big six dollar tab we're racking up. should we wash our hands? I didn't. should we go to new york sunday? shit. I kind of can't, but we could, oh... we just met ray and chris. we just totally talked to them. and we were cool - we were cool! we were big girls!

sarah is fumbling over her words and actions and is all, "look at me. I'm all over the place. I can't even pee." and we crack up at this, and I remind her that we don't know her, so that this could be totally normal behavior. she assures me it's not.

the wrap is that we carried intelligent conversations with mindbendingly amazing musicians and didn't ask for autographs. we did good, girls - we did good. we did our indie sisters proud.

and now sarah departs for the T and we skip to the car. we turn up the heat and the volume and I drive home in my socks. filling kristin in along the way, and singing all of the new frames after all of the live ray we can stand. kacia leaves me as well, and now I'm heading home down the side streets. red right ankle, lua, rain on the windshield - it seems to come out of my mouth more and more these days, but I mean it every time.

once again, stay tuned. the to-do list is big, but includes new york plans and mix cds and road trip photo postings, even with a little ironing and washing on the bill. I'll have more up by the end of the weekend.

~vvb