Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jen hangs out with the Farm Aid Board

Oh no! I’m getting used to dealing with celebrities! Have I been here too long?

On the night before the concert, some of the artists come by the venue for sound checks. Neil always makes an appearance and so does Dave and sometimes John; Willie usually pulls his bus in around 2 am and when you’re on the road as much as he is, I think the sound check is pretty unnecessary! Carolyn, our Executive Director, tries to welcome each of the artists personally at sound check. But this year, just before Dave was due to arrive for his sound check, Carolyn had to leave for a party we were throwing to welcome our sponsors, VIPS, and farmers (well, the VIPS are farmers!) in Philly so she asked me to welcome Dave personally. Sure, I said, no problem.

Now my job at concert time is to handle the logistics so that it all flows smoothly. I’m the contact for all the tour managers, making sure the artists have the equipment they need, hotel rooms, transportation, dressing rooms or spots in the backstage lot for their bus… all that good stuff. I’m a behind-the-scenes kind of girl, and I like it that way. So being asked to greet Dave Matthews personally should have thrown me into a tizzy. Alas, no tizzy… not even sweaty palms and that got me to worrying… have I been at Farm Aid long enough to no longer be dazzled by the stars that make up this organization? Oh no – it couldn’t be. But there I was, politely saying, “Hi Neil… good to see you again,” to Neil Young as we stood in line together for dinner that night as if he and I were old friends. Later it was a big hug for Paul English, the drummer of Willie Nelson and Family. But face to face with Dave Matthews after an amazing solo sound check and not a stammer, stutter, or complete tongue-tie? Even thinking back on it I should have been nervous. I’ve been listening to Dave since my freshman year of college back in 1994 when he started to hit it big.

But I did it. And it wasn’t until later that I realized I wasn’t completely cool… As Dave and I stood backstage, he gestured to me to have a seat on the boxes his gear comes in. Before I even thought about the words forming on my tongue I asked “It’s ok for me to sit on your equipment?” Man, am I lucky that Dave didn’t notice that slip-up! He would have had a field day with that one – he loves to catch people off guard (as anyone who watched our webcast knows!). But on we went to talk about the plan for the press conference that would take place the next day and Dave’s fantastic interview in the Philadelphia Inquirer (If you haven’t read it yet you’ve got to – click here. And in the end, my inclination was right… there’s no need to be star struck by these guys… yeah, they’re amazing and talented and famous… but they’re just like you and me: They just want to do some good in the world. And after four concerts, they’re starting to be just a bit like family to me.

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