I had gotten to the Wreckless Eric concert early. The information I had said 7:00, and even though I didn't expect the show to start at 7 on the tick, I didn't realize that the doors weren't scheduled to open until then. So I left and came back a few slices of pizza later. At 7:00 the doors still weren't open, but I was free to hang out at the bar for happy hour. At 7:15 I was kind of lurking around the entrance to the stairs to the show, wanting to be the first (or nearly the first) to go down so I could secure a good spot. There was another guy obviously having the same thoughts. My new nemesis. I sized him up -- about my age. Not as bald as me (damn him!), but his hair was grayer (Ha ha!). Then the doorkeeper explained to us that they were still doing soundchecks and the downstairs bartender still hadn't shown up, but he'd let us down when he could.
So my nemesis and I started chatting. His name was Stuart. It still is, I suppose. He lives in Washington and had come to New York specifically for this show (and was therefore staying around for the Saturday show at Hastings on-Hudson).
What I found interesting is that his interest in Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby had a different origin than mine. I had been a longtime Wreckless Eric fan. So when he started recording with Amy Rigby (whom he had, by that time, married), I bought those albums. I'll note that I may or may not have heard of Amy Rigby before that. She had been married to Will Rigby of the dBs. I think (though I'm not sure, and I'm too lazy to chack) that he recorded for Diesel Only Records, which put out a bunch of great truck-driving singles a couple of decades ago. In my own little music cocoon, it had never occurred to me that others might have started as Amy Rigby fans. But that's what Stuart's story is. He had, he volunteered, listened to Eric in the eighties. But not beyond that. He was a big fan of Amy's and had attended many of her concerts.
In fact, Stuart was enough of a fan that Amy recognized him and chatted with him. And he had gotten to know Eric through the association. So once we were downstairs discussing music before the show. Eric came over for a little chat. I stood up dumbly not knowing what to say, or if I hould say anything. Hummina hummina hummina. Here's one of my big musical idols standing right here in front of me for a conversation. OK, it's not like he's Justin Bieber and I'm some 16-year-old-girl. But still -- Wreckless. Eric. Talking to me.
Actually, it's not the first time we'd talked at one of his shows. About 20 years ago, when Le Beat Group Electrique was still new, I saw him perform at The Knitting Factory. I remember being so proud in my Stiff Records T-shirt. I didn't know at the time that there had been acrimony when he left Stiff. So I asked him to autograph my copy of the new album. He looked at my T-shirt, and said "Oh, you're one of them." I felt really embarrassed. He signed the album, inscribing "Hope I live up to it all," which I thought was clever. That copy of the album is now in Somerville, where my wife's friend Patti lives. She borrowed it a long time ago. Maybe I'll get it back someday. In the meantime I bought another copy used on the British version of Amazon (for like $100).
The second time I talked to Eric was during the early or mid oughties. I'm not sure what year. But he was playing in New York. During that show I was chatting with Amy Rigby (though I didn't know who she was). She simply described herself as his girlfriend. The two of them talked for a while. I talked to him briefly and put my foot in my mouth.
So, what could I do? I had to follow tradition. Stuart and Eric greeted each other with a brief hug. I said something like "I take it you've met?" Then proceeded to gtell Eric that he and I had met but he wouldn't remember it. Damn, I have a way with words.
During and before the show, Stuart and I talked a bit about music. We agreed that Nick Lowe is still putting out good music, and that a Rockpile reunion would not be a good idea. We agreed that Kaye's opening opening act was a bit odd, and that Rebecca Pronsky was very good. And, of course, he loved Amy's and Eric's performance.
After the show, and after buying merchandise (a T-shirt, a copy of Eric and Amy's new album, their 7-inch vinyl single, and the two CDs that Rebecca Pronsky was selling), I set out getting autographs. Eric was busy moving equipment, but Amy was friendly. She signed the album and the single. I asked about the Kickstarter reward. She's emailed in July, and I emailed right back, but never got a response. Then, last week I got another email. This had a link to the digital version of the album, which was part of my Kickstarter reward. But her email seemed to read as if she had never gotten mine. She said that sometimes Eric gets emails that he wants to craft a response to, but he ends up putting it away for later and forgets about it. I can believe that. She said to try emailing again. I will.
Eventually, Eric came up to chat with people. I got his autograph, talked a little about music. I mentioned the Kickstarter campaign, and he also said to try emailing again.
Part of me wanted to stay, but I was exhausted and had a family to get home to. So I bid a hasty farewell...