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Mpls, MN, United States

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Incidents & Accidents

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Prairie Home Companion

I was up early this morning to take a friend to the airport so that she could catch her flight to Peru. Actually, she drove there, but I drove her car back to my place. This time of year, you never know when they're going to close a side of the street to sweep up leaves or plow snow, so she asked if she could leave her car with me. It was the first time I'd driven since September, and it was admittedly a little scary... but also pretty awesome. She had suggested that I use the car for things like groceries and laundry, so I swung by Whole Foods on the way home, and it felt distinctly luxurious not to have to haul everything home on my own back.

I didn't, however, drive into St. Paul, which is where I spent most of the afternoon. On MPR this morning they had announced that A Prairie Home Companion was at home this week, and that the featured guest was Emmylou Harris. They also said that $15 rush tickets would be available at the box office at 4:00 p.m., 45 minutes before the show. The show's website said that these tickets always sell out, and that people generally start lining up between noon and two. I called pretty much everyone I knew in town, and everyone was busy, so I decided to go by myself. I also decided to bus.

Getting there did take a while (a little less than an hour), but it was also pretty ridiculously easy. I walked about three blocks total, most of them between my house and the first bus stop, and had one transfer in downtown Mpls. It was definitely chilly, but the sun was shining and everything looked sparkly and beautiful.

When I got to the Fitzgerald box office, there was no line and a sign on the door said that place-holder numbers for the rush line were available inside. I'd read that they did this in cases of "bad weather, rain, snow, [or] extreme cold," but I didn't realize that a mere 28° counted! In any case, I got my number (29), and spent the next several hours by the fire at Dunn Bros, outlining and writing an abstract for a paper and reading.* I went back, as directed, at around 4:00, and a crowd had gathered. Apparently they had given out upwards of 100 numbers, although their most optimistic guess was that only up to about 65 had any chance of getting tickets (two tickets could be purchased per place-holder number). Eventually, they ended up calling out numbers and allowing us into the box office to purchase our tickets, but before that we learned about the available seats (the first ones released were in the front row and on the stage, or other seats with partially obstructed views, and the latter ones were just standing-room space) and had to arrange ourselves roughly in order of our numbers. That reminded me of numerous "ice-breaker"/group bonding exercises, but everyone was excited and a little giddy from the cold (I've written about this) and, of course, united by a love of nerdy public radio, so it was actually kind of fun chatting.

So. I'd been nervous, but I did get in, although it was for standing room only. We'd been offered the option of "stepping aside" instead of buying standing tickets, as other seats (guests' reserves and others) were to potentially become available later. However, buying a standing ticket was the only way to guarantee seeing the show, so I did that.

And it was great. I'd called Ellen before leaving to confirm that it was in fact worth it to bus clear into St. Paul, potentially stand in line for hours with the possibility of not getting in, and bus clear back, in order to hear Emmylou Harris, even if I had to do it myself. She confirmed that it absolutely was, and she was right.

Emmylou and her band only played about four songs, but they were fabulous, and I enjoyed the rest of the show, too--though I did get a bit stiff from standing. (I was in the first floor balcony, in the right wing, by a column and behind a railing, so I did have something to lean on. There were two of the railing spots, and as a single, I ended up sharing the space with a guy who was an uncomfortably close talker but who I could mostly ignore after the show started.) For half the price of the cheapest tickets, it was also a great deal.

Unfortunately, I didn't figure out how to submit a message for that greeting segment they do. Mine was going to run along the lines of, "
Cërï thanks Ellen, cyborg extraordinaire, who convinced her it was worth it to stand in line." Or hopefully something more clever and amusing... though it's clearly a moot point now. You can ask Ellen about the cyborg bit.

So. Emmylou Harris is a glowing goddess, and I totally have a girl crush on her. But get this. Two-thirds of her band were at a table next to me in Dunn Bros, and I didn't even know! I'd noticed the very skinny guy in the designer jeans, with the shaved head, silver hoop earrings, and black cowboy hat, who walked by outside several times, and then came in and out a time or two. I noticed when another guy, wearing a pin-striped blazer over a printed shirt and a fedora with a feather in the band, came in and sat at his table and that they talked. I realized that the first one was older than he looked, and couldn't figure out whether they were a couple or what. (I was also trying to engage in the aforementioned productive activities, so this was just general distraction, not a concentrated effort.) When the took the stage, though, and I recognized first the feathered hat, and then the two guys--the first one the bassist, and the second the accordionist--I couldn't believe how close I'd been to Emmylou without even knowing. Wow.

*I'm only about 20 pages in, but so far I am loving this book!

4 comments:

Curly Sue said...

Oh wow. I'm so jealous that you got to see the fabulous Emmylou. I'm a huge fan. In fact her Wrecking Ball album is on my Top Ten Albums Of All Time list. And it's in the top five.

Thanks for the pictures!

Ellen said...

The sisters agree about Emmylou, Wrecking Ball is probably in my top five as well, if not my top two or three.

I read Love in the Time of Cholera this summer. I think I liked it and then I watched the trailer for the recent movie and was disgusted at how a movie could ruin a good book.

I Hope So said...

it sounds like a perfect day! i would love to see her as well. on my list. and prairie home companion has been on my list as well. you rock.

Misty said...

I too like Emmylou, courtesy of Ellen. I was listening last night while giving Clara her bath and thought of you and Ellen. I didn't think about you being there, though...very cool. In addition to the good music, the private eye skit was clever with the lie detector dog for Obama.