I went to see two of my artists, Gurf Morlix and Sam Baker, perform together at the legendary Cactus Cafe (legendary, among other things, for being the consummate “listening room” – meaning you aren’t allowed to talk…at all.) As a special bonus, Clay (husband extraordinaire) was able to join me, so we turned it into a work show/date night.
We made the familiar, ritualistic circle around The Drag to find that ever-elusive perfect parking spot, got a good table and a couple of glasses of wine, and settled in for the intimate acoustic show.
Midway through Sam’s first song, I had brilliant idea.
First, let me give you some background: Sam Baker is from the Central Texas town of Itasca (home also to Lincoln Durham and Tommy Alverson). It has a Texaco and a Dairy Queen and a population of maybe 1,500 people. The Wampus Cat is the high school mascot. Small town, big-time. However, IH-35 W goes straight through it…meaning anyone and everyone who’s taking the highway to Fort Worth MUST drive through li’l ol’ Itasca.
Ok. Back to my brilliant idea: I lean over to Clay and whisper, “How much do you think it would cost to rent a billboard in Itasca?”
Clay jerks back and throws me a startled look.
I glance around, trying not to get kicked out for conversation, and attempt to explain, “YOU know,” I confide, “…for Sam Baker.”
“I HAVE NO IDEA.” Clay hisses, kinda judgey.
‘Ok, fine,’ I think. I’ll look it up later. I move on to other things in my head.
A few songs later, Clay leans in and mutters, “I don’t even think THAT’S part of your job description.”
My head starts to spin. I’m INCENSED (and also quite confused, since this is completely out of character for ever-supportive Clay). But since I can’t come back with the force I fully intend to give, I decide to give him the “silent treatment” (which, I now admit, was really silly, since “silent treatments” are most always mistaken for “proper etiquette” in listening rooms).
Still, I mentally outline, draft, and revise my come back, going into detail about how sometimes you have to go above and beyond the “job description” for the good of the artist. And just think of how many people would be introduced and exposed to the amazing songwriter, with a mecca of a billboard that says “Welcome to Itasca, TX…Hometown of SAM BAKER…”
For the rest of the show, I work…simplify that, scratch that one thing, move that point up….until my argument is solidified.
The show is over, and we get back in the car.
“WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT??!!” I ask. Here we go. I’m revving up…adrenaline flowing….dukes up.
“Wait…,” Clay starts, “what EXACTLY did you ask me in there?”
I go from zero to sixty in three point five, “I asked how much it would be to rent a billboard for Sam in Itasca…Cause sometimes you havetogoaboveandbeyon…”
“Ohhhhhhhh,” He says, noticeably relieved.
There’s an uncomfortable beat of silence. I don’t understand.
“WHAT??” I ask.
Clay looks straight ahead as he explains, “I THOUGHT you asked…. ‘How much do you think it would be to rent a whore in Itasca?…YOU know, for Sam Baker.'”
“Ha!!” I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Yeah,….no. That’s not what I said.”