My probably-gay ex-boyfriend did little for me except to really break my heart back in 1996, but he did turn me on to Toad the Wet Sprocket and for that, he’s not on my list of people I’d wish impotent the rest of their natural lives. My love of Toad continues despite the deep dislike of the old boyfriend.
My daughter Carlene serendipitously found out that Toad’s lead singer Glen Phillips, an awesome songwriter and solo performer, was going to be in Pittsburgh on Monday and asked if I wanted to go. As an early birthday gift to her, I bought us tickets and we headed to Club Café on the South Side.
Club Café is an intimate little club with a small stage, perfect for acoustic performers. We stood at the end of the bar near the front door because all the seats were taken by the time we arrived. We scoped the crowd of mostly 30-year-olds and older; Carlene was probably the youngest one there at almost 24. The bartender, who looked like Cameron Diaz, poured us some chardonnay. We ordered a couple of salads and some artichoke dip and realized this was our first time in a club together. Mother-daughter bonding time in a bar was long overdue.
There was a tall bearded guy sitting behind the bouncers and paying attention to a laptop. In front of the computer were a stack of Glen Phillips CDs for sale along with CDs by a guy named Craig Cardiff. I turned back to the bar and took a sip of wine when I spied Glen out of the corner of my eye walking toward the tall bearded guy behind me. The two of them chatted for a minute and the tall bearded guy walked away.
I’d brought along my copy of one of Glen’s solo albums, “Abulum,” and with a glass of wine in me, I asked him if I could “bother him for an autograph.” I, of course, babbled on like a typical enamored fan about how I loved his music and brought up my children listening to it, blah, blah, blah, all the while telling myself in my head to shut up, but I didn’t, and still he was gracious and signed the liner notes and thanked me. I’m such a putz sometimes.
A few minutes later, the tall bearded man walked on to the stage with a guitar strapped to his back. ‘Ah, he’s not Glen’s lighting guy,’ I realized. He was, in fact, Craig Cardiff, and my love affair with the tall bearded man’s music began. Love him. Got his autograph, too, and actually talked to him as the real me and not the silly blithering idiot that came out when I was talking to Glen. Check out his website for snippets of his music. If you like early Counting Crows stuff, you’ll like Craig Cardiff. That’s my best comparison.
Glen and his guitar were excellent and he has an intimate rapport with the audience. When he asked if anyone had listened to last week’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!,” I, of course, clapped and yelled “Yes! Woohoo!”, the only person in the club to do so. Hey, I’m a huge “Wait, Wait…” junkie and my dream is to one day win Carl Kasell’s voice on my answering machine. It’s not every day I’m in a bar and someone brings up my favorite NPR show, you know? Even though this was a slightly embarrassing moment, this seemed to please Glen and probably made up for my blithering idiocy earlier, so I felt balanced once again.
But it was the music that made me happiest. He sang some solo stuff and a few Toad songs and for an hour or so I was immersed in the familiar voice of my past and not once did I associate it with the ex boyfriend. Major victory for Lynn.
Carlene linked her arm with mine for the last few songs and we sang with the crowd. This was her growing up music. This was the perfect concert for mother-daughter bar bonding. Classy, yet comfortably fun.