Despite being sick and lame, I made it off the couch last night to go see Arrested Development, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn at Barack the Vote at the Orange Peel. It's only a spring cold but it still knocked me on my bum and I was this close to canceling. Lucky for me, I was carpooling two friends who didn't know each other and I felt responsible for getting them to the gig.
We parked just North of the Peel and as we walked past the City Bakery, some folks were advertising that Arrested Development was inside. We ducked in and they were there indeed, not eating a snack but all lined up sitting against a wall and behind tables, ready to sign autographs. My two friends had barely heard of Arrested Development and I had not heard of their music since the nineties and "Tennessee" so I didn't know the lead singer from the drummer. But they were terribly gracious folks, bantering with us as we moved along receiving each autograph on our newly purchased CDs. We thanked them for their obvious pro bono work; our tickets were $5 each. They told us they had done two other gigs like this for Obama; one in Columbia and one in Atlanta where they are from.
We moseyed on down to the Peel and lingered outside for a while, signing up for Obama yard signs. Then we filed inside for a beer which temporarily quelled my cold symptoms. Being a politically charged event, the atmosphere was lively and energetic. A few people took the stage to speak, including an older distinguished looking woman who gives "hugs for Obama" near Pack Square every Friday night. She captured the crowd with her genuine enthusiasm, warmth and sincerity - once she learned that the microphone had to stay in front of her mouth, and not swing side to side like a pendulum. She spoke to the lot of us as if we were all 18, voting in our first election but we didn't care. We got where she was coming from. Our Mayor, Terry Bellamy, also gave an impassioned speech. I've never seen her so animated, but I've only seen her at the City Council meetings.
I had never heard Abigail Washburn or Bela Fleck. Together with Ben Sollee on cello and a fiddle player (who was absent) they make up the Sparrow Quartet. They were amazing but being an acustic gig they were partially drowned out by many in the crowd who were talking.
Arrested Development was fantastic and engaging. I was bummed when they wrapped up their set around 11pm but in reality I needed to get home before I turned into a pumpkin. So we weaved our way up Biltmore Ave, my friend, Susan, stopping to intervene in an argument between two drunk young men. "Hugs for Obama," she said. That sentiment wasn't as appealing to these two but I think the shock from her intervention style stopped their arguing, temporarily at least.
I bussed my friends back to their abodes and came on home to nurse the cold. I'm glad I made it off the couch, even if I have to pay for it today.