Annette and I had a lovely evening out last weekend to go and see a Dan Bern concert at Ann Arbor’s “The Ark” on Friday night. Who is Dan Bern, you ask? Well, he’s kind of “alternative rock meets folk rock singer” of a sort of guy. There’s a picture here– I took one at the concert with my cell phone, but it was pretty lame so I thought I’d link to a “real” picture from Bern’s web site.
Somewhere a number of years ago, I came across Dan Bern’s CD (a self-titled release), and I have to say that it remains one of my favorite CDs in my collection. So, I found out that Bern was going to be in town and a) I immediately went out and tried to buy more of Bern’s CDs (I bought Breathe and My America II) and b) I listened to these Bern recordings before the show– to get ready, doncha know.
Anyway, Annette and I had a lovely meal and then went to the show. In brief, Bern’s show was an example of how and why it almost certainly always worthwhile for anyone reading this to go and see a concert put on by someone who puts on– oh, I don’t know– 300 gigs a year. Because here’s the thing: I don’t care how you feel about Bern’s music or even that type of music. For pure “perfomance value,” you’re better off with the likes of someone like Bern than about 90% of the people on the radio nowadays.
It wasn’t a very crowded show, and that’s even in the Ark, which isn’t exactly a huge theater venue. Most of the folks there were probably about our age and temperament, though there were a few somewhat younger types. There was one table of groovy young young people right up front, and they were a bit of a show in and of themselves. One of them, a white girl with dreadlocks (and btw, white people– dreadlocks is really not a good look on you), was passed out in her chair by the end of the show. Another got a little too into Bern’s last song, Jerusalem (and to the extent that Bern has a “big hit,” this is probably it, though I actually prefer the song “Marilyn” on this album, which he didn’t sing). There’s a lot of cool lyrics in this song, but the passage I will reproduce now for the purposes of the story later on is toward the end of the song:
I spent ten whole days in Jerusalem
And all I ate was olives
Nothing but olives
Mountains of olives
It was a good ten days
I like olives
I like you too
Anyway, this particular extra-special fan didn’t so much sing along as shout along, and since she was right up front and we were all in a small space and she was really loud, she kind of succeeded in drowning out Bern and the two guys who served as his band. I think everyone was a little disconnected on that one.
And then there was hat girl. After the show was over, I was waiting around for Annette to get out of the line in the women’s room, and there was this young woman– like sophomore or junior in college tops– clutching a cowboy hat. She was telling anyone who would listen (including me) “It’s his hat! It’s his hat!” Indeed, it did look like the hat he was wearing at the beginning of the show.
“Well, you should probably give it back,” I said.
“Oh, I will, I will. I want to meet him and give him back his hat. It’s his hat!” She was an attractive girl and didn’t look disturbed overall, but her eyes had a little bit of that crazy look to them.
“I love Dan Bern! I want to meet him. Look at this, look at this!” and she showed me the cloth or hemp choker necklace she was wearing; it had these green things in it. “Olives! Nothing but olives! See? I made that!”
“Okay…” and that’s when Annette came back and it was certainly time to go.
All in all, a great evening out, one not quite as weird as these toward the end of the show events might suggest.