Okay, all, I am still at work, but it has calmed down enough for me to make the time to give the report of the show at Largo. By way of background, Largo is a small, local pub located in the Jewish area of Los Angeles. It's gained a reputation in LA as being quite the eclectic club, so while small, they do get some big names in there. For example, Sara Silverman is playing there tonight. The show Tift played was the Watkins Family Hour, which consists of a brother and sister from Nickel Creek taking some time out from the band. They play every Thursday night in a loose, kind of jam session format with all kinds of guests. They are more or less the house band, if you will. Tift was appearing as a "special guest" last night.
So there's the background, now the report of one of the great days of my life. Got a call from the Mrs. early afternoon saying she wasn't feeling well, and she was bailing out. No problem there, I could get a friend to go. I had made a reservation for a table for two for the show. Ultimately, I couldn't get anyone to go, but I would not be stopped, and went alone anyway. Left the office at 6:30. Unfortunately, disaster struck almost immediately. One of the major freeways was shut down, there was a big Hollywood event, and traffic was an absolute nightmare. It took me AN HOUR AND A HALF TO TRAVEL THE TWELVE (YES, TWELVE, NOT ONE HUNDRED AND TWELVE) miles from my office to Largo. Then my first big break of the evening occurred - I found great parking right out front. This was followed by more bad news - got to Largo at 8, just as the doors were opening, and it was announced in no uncertain terms that photography was verboten! As I got to the host, I explained that although I had a dinner reservation, my date backed out and I was alone, so I would give up my table and sit at the bar. Unbenknownst to me, my second lucky break occurred at this time. The host explained that there was another guest who had come alone and asked if I would mind sharing, to which I responded that would be okay. It's a good thing I did, as the table we were assigned was right up against the stage, a mere ten feet from where Tift would seen be playing. Sitting at the bar would have pushed me back about 20 yards.
So we were seated by 8:15, and the show is scheduled to begin at 9:00, although I am told they never start on time. My dinner guest turned out to be a gentleman named Kevin who had seen Tift in Cambridge when he was visiting his son and was floored by Tift's voice (who isn't). Kevin flew down from San Francisco just for this show, and I gave him the web address for here and I expect he's reading this. If you are, Hello again, and welcome to the club. Had a fairly good meal of Italian sausage, but the service was horrible. Got one beer the entire night, although I was so into the show that I hardly noticed. I was a little concered at the format of the show, and feared we'd only get two or three songs from Tift, since she was a "special guest." After a while, I noticed Zeke come out, so my hope ignited that we'd get Tift and the band.
At a little after 9:00, the sister from Nickel Creek got on stage and announced their special guest, Tift Merritt. Tift bounds on to stage so close I could have reached out and touched her, but I restrained myself. I kid you not when I say this, but she looked as good as I have ever seen. She was wearing a lacey black blouse, with a kind of leather and lace black skirt, and her trademark boots. She began the show, alone, with Something to Me, a couple of new ones (the names escape me right now), then she sat at the piano for Good Hearted Man, and a song in French, if you can believe that. Then the brother and sister from Nickel Creek (I should have remembered their names, but I assume their last names are Watkins, but I will from here out refer to as NC) for Bramble Rose. And then Tift was done - for the moment. NC continued playing what I assume was their own music, with some guest musicians playing steel guitar and drums. Then they brought up from the audience Mr. Benmont Tench to play guitar. NC are quite talented, and the sister plays a great fiddle. After about 45 minutes of performing, they called Tift out for some more songs, Write My Ticket, and about three or four others - it's all a jumble to me now. And then Tift was done and I still had not presented the Makers Mark. I decided to strike.
In a kind of weird stroke of good luck for me (I think I'm up to three now), there is a couch just off the stage, but behind a wall from the audience, and Tift and Zeke were sitting there. I walked out there, went right up to Tift and said, "Tift, my name is Michael and I'm trying to get Mack Daddy status in your fan club." Gentlemen, I shit you not about what happened next, since it makes me a living legend, in my opinion. Tift jumps off the couch, gives me a hug and says, "I love you guys." I'm kind of standing there dumb struck, and her and Zeke are talking to me about the fan club, and how much they like it, and Tift asks if I'd like to take a picture with her. I said no thanks - NOT! So she suggests we go outside and take it in front of the club, so off we go, her, Zeke and I. Zeke actually took the pictures. Again, I'll post those, or at least e-mail them to whoever is going to post them, from home tonight. And then we stood around talking about the club, about NC and Benmont. I mentioned that I was also somewhat of a Tom Petty fan, having seen him 53 times in concert, and Zeke and I talked about that, and my having seen the Hearbreakers and Benmont in Australia when they toured with Dylan. Tift mentioned that she loved the fan club logo, and wondered who did it. Phillip, you may wish to e-mail here what you sent me. They explained how they had met NC, while in Cambridge (as Tift said, England, not Massachusetts) and had struck up a friendship. So Tift and Zeke are apparently out here for a short vacation to visit with NC. So after all of that, we returned inside, I to my table, and Tift and Zeke to wherever it is "backstage" that musicians go. I enjoyed the rest of the show. As I said, NC are quite good, and I definitely plan on seeing them at Largo again. Before long, their show was over, so they brought everyone back on stage for an encore, Benmont, Tift, all of them - for a rendition of the old Juice Newton hit Angel of the Morning. Spent a few more minutes talking with Tift and Zeke again on the way out - they are definitely parted with Lost Highway, btw. I begged them to come out West more often, and Zeke said the absolutely intend to. So I left, content, happy, on cloud nine, feeling completely drunk and realizing I had only had one pint of guiness.
To that's the report on what was perhaps the best concert of my life, and let me just reiterate what others have posted here in the past - Tift and Zeke are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. Absolutely no airs or pretentions about them. In closing, let me just say that after you make Mack Daddy status, as has also been posted here, you do get handsomer, your jokes are funnier, and gosh darn it, people like you.