Ellen is my concert going friend. My husband's music taste and mine just don't match (Kenny G vs. Eric Clapton). In the summer, in an email from one of the concert producers, I saw that Robert Cray was going to be at House of Blues in Dallas on Spetember 20th. Without consulting Ellen, who was in New Hampshire for the summer, I went to Ticketmaster's site to buy tickets. The only ones available were for general admission, so that is what we got. After purchasing the tickets, I found out that general admission was not open seating, but standing in front of the stage -- ARGH! I emailed Ellen and told her that YEAH! we are going to see Robert Cray in September and BOO! we will have to stand up during the performance. We both agreed that although we are too old to be doing that, it would be better to be on our old legs/feet for a few hours than not see Cray.
HOB just opened in Dallas in April 2008 and I hadn't been there yet, nor had anyone I know. I tried to get some info online yesterday and could only find bits and pieces -- great acoustics, small venue, lousy food, etc. One good piece of info was that if you ate there first, you could get in a "fast track" line for general admission. So we planned to eat and then enjoy the music.
After driving around some miserable traffic, we got there about 6:45. Went to put our names in for a table, after observing many empty tables, and were told the wait would be 30-45 minutes. We found two seats at the full service bar, ordered drinks, dinner and had good conversation with bar neighbors.
The fast pass thing was great! We got downstairs to the Music Hall behind only about 20 people. Found that it is more like a nightclub than a concert hall. Upstairs in the balcony (like an old movie theatre) are the reserved seats. We found a bar table with two stools about mid-way back in the relatively small area. Our neighbors advised us to scoot the table forward so people wouldn't stand in front of us -- the guy of the couple was a HOB veteran.
Other than the outstanding performance of The Robert Cray Band and their opening act, Guy Forsyth (http://www.guyforsyth.com/), the most interesting part of our evening were our conversations with our neighbors, Jimmy and Karen, during the hour or so we waited for the music to begin.
First, Jimmy told us he'd been rehearsing all day. When I asked if he was a musician, he said no, but he was a rock star. It's all a state of mind, I guess.
Karen was rather quiet. After she opened up a bit, she told us that it was her second date with Jimmy and that they'd met through match.com. She and I went to the ladies' room together and she told me that she designs traction elevators for the world's largest elevator manufacturer and that she is a CPA. She also told me that she IS a musician -- keyboards and drums.
Back at the tables, Karen told us that she had been the common law wife of Johnny Barbata, drummer for The Turtles, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, CSN, etc. As the evening progressed and she had more to drink, she gave us more details. How she and Johnny had met in Europe when she was 14 (or 15), how they lived on a commune on thousands of acres somewhere (I can't remember the name) an hour or so away from Mendocino, CA. How she had to leave and walked away leaving her share of the land with only $10,000.
Closer to the end of the evening, with the music and other neighboring drunks louder, she told me that her sister had been married to Jimmie Vaughn.
Somehow this all sounded plausible to me. At least it made the night even more interesting than just Ellen and me going to hear outstanding blues music alone, sitting in chairs in an arena.
P.S.: As we were all preparing to leave, a very drunk Karen pulled Ellen and me close to her and confided that she has only one "girlfriend" and that she really wants to be our friend. She basically begged us to call her. Since she lives in East Texas, I'm counting on not running into her any time soon.