December is off to a great start. The first week was filled with finishing up classes and projects. Busy is an understatement. After the second week I was really struck by how awesome the people around me are. Let me 'splain.
These are my coworkers. They are amazing. They're funny and irreverent and goofy and at the very same time they are experts and geniuses and masters of their fields. And they're all fine people. The best. I'm so lucky I get to work with them. This photo was from our tacky Christmas attire party last Thursday. We always take a "serious" photo where we are all supposed to NOT smile. In each of these photos Sandy is grinning from ear to ear. Jon and Esnipes are trying to get Sandy to be serious. Also, there's a Photoshopped framed image of Jon's head on another man's body on the mantle.
These are some of my Avett friends. Concerts are better in groups. And to be honest, it takes G and Ginger both to talk me into going to one. For a person who doesn't especially like hanging out with people, a room filled elbow to elbow with thousands of humans doesn't always sound like a good idea. But there's always a reason why this one wont be that bad and why we should go. We first saw the Avett Brothers with Ginger about 10 years ago at a small club in Greenville called The Handlebar. The room was small and half full. Langhorne Slim opened. Since that night the Avetts (and Langhorne) have blown up and if you want to go see them these days you'll be doing so in a large amphitheater. Somehow G and Ginger got word of a secret fundraising show in a small venue about 20 minutes from our house. Ashley (The Whisk) was lucky enough to find a ticket as well and we all met to tailgate before the show last Friday.
The fundraiser was for The Carpenter's Table and the event was at Byrnes High School in Spartanburg. Ashley's seat was in the back corner. Our seats were about 30 feet from the front right in the middle. They were perfect.
The Avett's collect fan posters from various occasions and tape them to the back of the piano.
That's my hero Joe Kwon on rock and roll cello.
That's Seth Avett levitating.
That's my new friend Mike Marsh on drums in the back. More on him later.
Fellow Winthrop Eagle, Bob Crawford with his "This Machine Kills Cancer" bass guitar. Oh and there's Paul Defiglia on the keyboards.
Scott Avett singing "Murder in the City". The venue was small and because there were all sorts of people from every age group and physical ability present, they asked that we remain seated for the entire concert. To my knowledge this has never happened before. Even when you have seats, when the brothers come out, you stand. But everyone was respectful and we all just kinda danced on our seats.
Seth and Scott's sister Bonnie was responsible for organizing this event and they talked her into coming out for a couple of songs.
So when we walked in the building I saw a woman who looked familiar. This happens all the time. I'm visual and while I do not have a photographic memory, my memory is just good enough to remember most faces but not good enough to remember where I saw those faces. I think the setting helped me this time though. See, 8 years ago we saw the Avetts at a little cafe/record store in Greenville for a album release event. While standing in line to get our CD signed I was holding Blue in his "Little Avett" onesie. The lady in front of us in line thought it was funny and she asked to take a photo of him. The familiar face last Friday was her. A few minutes later she and her family came in and sat down right in front of us. I leaned up and asked her about the photo and she remembered and said she always wanted to send us that photo. I gave her my email address and there's the photo. Avett people are good people.
The concert was great. The song selection was superb. And for me, a person who doesn't like crowds, people getting in my personal space, standing still for hours at a time or drunk people spilling beer on me, this was an ideal situation. No smoking, no drinking, no standing. The concert started around 7:20 pm and ended around 9:30 pm. I saw a great concert in comfort and was still going to find my bed before midnight.
And just when I didn't think it could get any better, at the end of the show each musician pulled their copy of the set list off the floor in front of them and wadded it up and threw it into the crowd. When drummer Mike Marsh wadded his up, we locked eyes and I knew this was my moment. The last set list. The pressure. With his drum-muscled arms he drew back his arm and thundered the set list high into the air. My eyes never left that spinning ball of precious paper. As it descended every muscle in my body synchronized and prepared for action. I jumped up and back and I could see every wrinkle in the paper as it landed safely in my hands. I may have fell back over the seats a little, but I didn't fall. After celebrating with my slightly embarrassed wife I waited around for Erin Andrews to come interview me about the catch. When she didn't show up, we just left.
After dropping Ginger off at home, G and I slowed down for a second to fully appreciate the tallest Christmas Tree in the upstate located in downtown Inman. 40 feet of LED Christmas cheer.
And you can make fun of me for being old and wanting to go to bed, but I did outlast both my kids who we found like this at my mom's.
I also got up earlier than them on Saturday for a run before heading off to graduation. That's Travis Monroe Taylor rocking his sculpture tshirt under his cap and gown. Travis is good people. We are so going to miss him.