Friday, September 15, 2006

Feel the Vibe

I'm feeling homesick for Austin today because it's the first day of the ACL Music Festival. I can’t believe this is already its fifth year, and I certainly can’t believe that I actually worked on that project in my own little KLRU way. It was a massive effort to launch that thing and I will forever applaud all of those involved.

A couple of years ago I was given the “Producer” badge for the Festival – the badge with the greatest access anyone could get with only about 15 given out. This might have been my greatest and most unexpected professional coup ever. I was shocked. Granted, I had worked my arse off on the Soundcheck Gala and Kiddie Limits tent and had spent months prior developing the ACL donor program, but I was still surprised and really honored that the Festival promoter thought enough of me to give me something coveted by so many.

The rub is, I didn’t use or abuse that badge ONCE! Not one, single time. Didn’t go back stage. Didn’t go to the special behind-the-scenes lounge area with the fancy port-o-potties. Didn’t go hang out in the artists compound. Didn’t request the producer’s golf cart to tool around Festival grounds. Nothing! Curses on me for being so tragically unhip!

But the more I thought about it, I just didn’t think I could muster up enough nerve and detached cool to hang with the hip kids. Instead, I did the exact things I’d done for the previous years when I had much lesser credentials – I hung out with the 3-and under crowd managing the Kiddie Limits tent cutting out Arthur sunglasses, making sure the actors in the Clifford costume didn’t faint, listening to the Biscuit Brothers and haggled with the ever-annoying face painting lady. I laughed with Clifton, goofed with Karin and teased Maury when she would grace us with an occasional appearance. I ate chicken and cole slaw in a cone, drank Loose Leaf Ice Tea, chatted with the parents and had an absolute blast.

Now don’t get me wrong. My intentions weren’t all pure. Had one of my musical crushes been playing – like Keb Mo or Bono – I would have trampled over little old ladies in walkers and shoved babies out of the way while yelling “FESTIVAL PRODUCER COMING THROUGH – GET OUTTA MY WAY LITTLE PEOPLE” to get to seats on the stage. But alas, that wasn’t to be. My badge is a great memento that represents a special time in my life.

Once the Kiddie Limits tent closed for the day, I would hit the Festival with a vengeance, hanging out primarily in the Gospel Tent until the big final shows of the evening. Every year the Dirty Dozen Brass Band tore it up and inspired an incredibly fun mosh pit of second line dancers. Good stuff.

So in the spirit of the Mighty Bells of Joy that you’ll hear singing loud and proud from the Gospel stage, let’s shout “Halleluiah” for the ACL Music Festival and “Praise God” that my dear friend Beth Doughty has moved to Pflugerville and won’t have to endure one more Festival road block or rude bicyclist blocking her apartment! (But oh how I will miss hearing about her annual letter to the editor…).

Rock on.


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