When "want dt. coke" comes across my text message on Friday mornings, I know Melanie's waiting at McDonald's drive-thru and is in urgent need of the answer. This morning I text back, "decaf--two splendas."
When my coffee arrives, we head to the lounge to steal Coach Rodgers' News-Leader from his mailbox and read the Weekend Events section. This weekly Friday ritual is an enjoyable time to check out local musicians, see what's on at the Moxie, and find a new place to eat in town. And today was no exception.
While Mel scanned the paper, I was busy at the computer answering e-mails and working on lesson plans, half-heartedly listening to her weekend event chatter. But then a gasp.
"Ohmygosh--Sara Evans is in town!"
I looked up.
"Want to go?" Melanie adds with enthusiasm. "She's at the shrine?"
Now the Shrine Mosque has always been good to me. My mother used to take me there for the Shriner's circus when I was a child, and I'm almost sure that's where I rode my first (and last) elephant. My sister took me there to see my first(but most definitely not my last) Dave Matthews concert with, of all bands, Toad the Wet Sprocket (sheesh...). Brian and I spent a WHOPPING five bucks to see the Wallflowers AND Lisa Loeb (now that was a musical bargain!) More recently, Bob Dylan graced his presence on the shrine stage for one of the most eclectic crowds I've ever seen at a concert. But Sara Evans? Who is she?
"Sure." (I'm always up for a concert--see Rock Star Tour '06)
"Do you listen to her?"
Yikes. Shouldn't I know her? What do I say? Looking back at my work, I reply, "Sure, I've heard of her."
Within seconds she was out the door to find her credit card and cell phone. Later this afternoon a note was left on my computer screen: "Sara Evans...tomorrow night...woohooo!"
Well, yes. Now I know. Sara Evans sings country songs. And if you know me...well...I don't do country very well. I'd rather listen to a piano man who sounds like Kermit the Frog singing Rockin' Robin over showing up decked out in a cowgirl hat and ropers at a Country Western concert.
On a miserably hot July afternoon at an Arkansas softball tournament in 1989, my high school girlfriends begged me to see Alan Jackson with them that night. At that time, the only country singers I knew were Waylon Jennings and Conway Twitty--and I'd only heard their names. I agreed, and fake sang my way through "Way down yonder on the Chattahoochie," and "Don't Rock the Jukebox," (which I highly disagreed with being a Rolling Stones fan) and it was here I learned it didn't take long to pick up on the melody and the lyrics of a country song. Once I collected the verses in my short term memory, I belted them out just like the rest of the 10,000 people wearing ropers and pancake-sized belt buckles, which are mighty uncomfortable for those of us with an extra roll around the waist.
Last summer at Sheryl Crow's concert, her opening act was a country singer...and gee, I can't remember his name. According to the people next to me, he had a top country hit the week before...and most everyone was singing to his songs. I knew none of them, but I do remember one he sang, a ballad, about his daughter Ava. It was a beautiful song that didn't place him on the charts, but did make an impression on me--although not enough for me to buy his album.
I finally confessed to Melanie. She giggled with delight and cannot wait to introduce me to Sara's beloved songs..."And," she assures me, "you'll be an instant fan!" She's bringing the CD's "so you can get a feel for her music" on the drive to Springfield. So not only will I get two hours of country music, I'll get another dose on the drive there.
But afterwards, I'm in charge...and we just might end up at Ernie Biggs, where the piano man will sound like Kermit the Frog and pull us onstage for a nice round of Bobby Day's Rockin' Robin (Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!).