I stalk rock stars. It used be a large part of my life. My plan was to befriend them, party with them and maybe become a groupie, but damn my Catholic upbringing, it always gets in the way of the real bad stuff. When I was young and hot, I’d jump onstage during rock shows, lurk post-show at hotels to catch a glimpse and deliver cookies to the creepy men that guarded the backstage door. I was a detective; I’d locate the lead singer’s number and call him at ridiculous times. I was cunning. I attribute all this rock star lust and silliness to my poor grades in high school, but I was a great success.
Just last week I met one of my idols, Tanya Donelly of Belly, Throwing Muses and Breeders fame, and an incredible solo artist. In the mid-90s I spent valuable time pestering my professor, Donelly’s step-father, for information on Tanya. I would bombard him with an assortment of intrusive questions about his rock-n-roll family and show up at Belly shows pleading with him to get me backstage. He was a kind man, but he put an end to it with one statement: “Shouldn’t you spend more time completing your papers than you do learning about my daughter’s life?” I got the picture and a C+ in his class.
Last thirsty Thursday, I saw Tanya play at The Salvation Cafe in Newport for an intimate acoustic show that also included the consistently great Brothers Kendall. The set list included little bits of brilliance like “Not Too Soon” and “Dusted”. Special guests Gail Greenwood and Dave Narcizo added to the nostalgia. I saw Belly in 1993, 1994 and 1995 and I felt just as young watching Tanya Donelly last week.
Courtney, I’ll start smoking cigarettes again for you.
Meeting Courtney Love was the highlight of my life. Yes, I’ve had a bunch of kids and been married once or twice, but meeting Courtney Love was the most euphoric experience of my life. Giving birth was a highlight, but it was bloody and scary and filled with IVs and defecation. Too much? Always.
I am not an overly ambitious person, but when given the slight chance of meeting Courtney, I seized the day, I was unstoppable. I weaseled my way past hundreds of people and managed to be the first photo- op of the evening. Courtney was at an art exhibit showcasing her own artwork and I was ready to take her with me for the rest of our lives. Love was gracious and warm, I told her that she’s “my world” and then she and I discussed how similarly we were dressed. Messed up minds do think alike.
At the end of the evening, I yelled over to Courtney and her large entourage, “Courtney, we’re on our way to a rock show, come with us, drinks on me!” She shook her head with a smirking, disapproving look. Pure bliss.
Families that Love Loudon Stay Together
My brother started this one. He’s been to see Loudon Wainwright III more times than I’ve shampooed my hair. It’s been going on for decades, but my fanatic involvement has been for a little over a decade. Within that time, I’ve seen Loudon in New York City, Memphis, Boston, Fall River, the Berkshires and maybe even a few I don’t remember. At times, there’s copious amounts of alcohol swirled into these evenings.
Loudon’s performance pecks at my heart little by little each time, his voice resonates and I’m suddenly surrounded by memories, good and bad. It’s a beautiful, emotional and at times uncomfortable few hours. Loudon is a writer, a poet, an actor, a name dropper, a folk-music patriarch and a dynamic showman.
I’ve met him a few times now. My brother, sister and I have been to dinner with Loudon and those nights have been some of the happiest moments of my life. Most Irish Americans have a picture of JFK in their homes, but we all have a picture of Loudon Wainwright III.
To be continued.