Many long-time readers know what a big Indigo Girls fan I am. Last week, Amy Ray (1/2 of the IG) came and did a solo show in Gainesville, and the icing on the cupcake of that wonderfulness was a small talk and meet-and-greet at Wild Iris the next day.
1. Maria Carter at Double Down, 2. Shadowboxers at Double Down, 3. Amy Ray at Double Down, 4. Amy Ray (and The Butchies) at Double Down, 5. Amy, 6. Amy Ray at Wild Iris Books, 7. Amy Ray at Wild Iris Books, 8. Amy Ray at Wild Iris Books, 9. Amy Ray at Wild Iris Books, 10. Amy Ray at Wild Iris Books, 11. Amy Ray at Wild Iris Books, 12. Amy Ray at Wild Iris Books
My friend Chana and I met at Harry’s for an early dinner (and drinks) before walking over to the show. Doors opened at 6, so you know… we wanted to get there early to get good seats and/or standing area. Which we did, thanks to Chana spotting a table and chairs!
There were two opening acts at the Double Down (which I hadn’t been to in so long that I kept trying to call it The Covered Dish, hai! I’ve been in this town forever!). The first one was Maria Carter, who I have since found out has played at Wild Iris as well, and I’m planning to catch her next show there. The things she could do on that guitar were amazing – I have not seen a player that talented and complex in quite some time. Next up was a quick set by new-to-me The Shadowboxers. And then it was time for Amy.
I have to interrupt myself here and admit that I’ve never actually listened to any of Amy Ray’s solo work before. It’s kind of the same thing with knowing an author all my life but being afraid to read their books (or having read them and then not wanting to meet them). What if I read them and they’re horrible, or meet them and they’re a douchebag? What do I do with then?! So. Amy’s solo work. What if I didn’t like it? What if I didn’t like it so much that it ruined the Indigo Girls for me? HAHAHAHA I need not have worried. It was louder, faster, rockier than I expected, but the voice is one I know so well – it was a little weird, hearing the same voice I know but singing songs I don’t know. Surreal. And other than some people around us talking so loudly it was almost hard to hear the music sometimes (which was quite a feat considering we were about 15 feet from the speakers) it was an amazing, energetic, and wonderful concert. Not too crowded, only about 60-75 people, and a lot of them people I recognized. Good times, good times!
The next day she came to Wild Iris Books to sing a couple of songs, give a talk, and have a little autograph session. This was amazing and intimate and I felt honored to be able to help out a little with things in the cafe. More people wanted water than beer (what’s up with that?!?!?) but fortunately I have Friends In Places and Sonya The Food Rep Queen swept in and delivered bottled water like a Fairy WaterMother. BUT I DIGRESS.
Amy sang about four songs, some solo and some Indigo Girls, and then talked a little bit about her process. That was kind of … well, I’m going to say “funny” but I don’t mean “funny ha-hah”… I mean, more… “funny-appropriate” because I’ve had a blog post brewing in my head lately about how, like my writer friend Lynn says, there’s no magic handshake. People ask how you make art work, and you tell them that unfortunately it’s really no more than showing up and doing the work, and they nod and ask again “but how do you make it work?!”. Sigh. And Amy Ray said pretty much the same thing. She talked about how many hours a week she spends writing music, and how she takes care of herself while on the road, and … it was all very practical. I loved it. And other people asked questions, and talked, and she mingled and autographed CDs and was just Generally Pretty Awesome.
After it was over, there was of course chatting and decompressing and putting chairs away (thanks, Jenn!) and winding down. I’m just still so amazed I got to be a little part of that.