Sneaking into a Jimmy Cliff / Michael Franti ACL taping, eating pizza with Tim Waldrop
I went to high school with Tim in Dallas, and never talked to him since the day we graduated (although I think we’re Facebook friends) until I saw him at a recent Austin City Limits taping featuring Jimmy Cliff and Michael Franti. He works in the solar business, which I’m pretty interested in, and we hadn’t seen each other in ten years, so we went out for pizza.
He’s a busy guy, and he only had time for a grab and go lunch. So we sat down and ordered a pizza quickly. He couldn’t decide between the eggplant pie and the margherita, so we got half and half (although they put made both halves sauce-less, because they can’t have sauce on one side and not the other). I didn’t recall ricotta polluting the eggplant pie, but this one definitely did. I ate from the other half.
The solar business is really fascinating, and not to bore you with wonky details, but the players could be doing a little better. Tim travels all over the state putting up solar installations; immediately after lunch he was driving to Edinburg, and he had just gotten back from Houston the previous night. He gave me some helpful insights on the business, and where we thinks it’s going. He seems pretty happy with his life for the most part, but the company he works for has had to grow up a lot recently, and the transition has not always been fun.
The night we met up was pretty epic. I’d never been to an ACL taping; I’ve always found the process for acquiring tickets too arcane and confusing. It’s only a 300 person venue, and a significant chunk of tickets seem to go to sponsors and people with ACL connections, leaving normal folks like me at a real disadvantage.
So one night Erin and I finish dinner and I went back to my computer (we’re lame like that). I checked twitter (you don’t after dinner?) and see that Jimmy Cliff’s band’s flight was delayed, and Michael Franti was playing an acoustic set to keep the audience stalled. Now, I like Jimmy Cliff. After discovering Bob Marley, I saw “The Harder They Come” as a teenager. Great stuff. But I LOVE Michael Franti. So on a whim, I just decided to try my luck. I figured that some folks would bail since it was a weeknight, and I could take their spot.
I walked in, and there was no one at the desk. A stoner was standing over the table, and I asked him how one could get in. He asked how many of me there were, and I told him I was alone. He looked to and fro, and upon seeing no one official-looking, licked the handstamp on the back of his hand, grabbed my hand and pressed his against mine, trying to impart some of the ink.
I need to interrupt this story and say that I truly love Austin. Where else do strangers lick the back of their hands to get you into a show?
Anyhoo, the hand-licking, ink-sharing thing didn’t work. He said I should just follow him and try to walk in non-nonchalantly. We walked to the elevator which was full of people, squeezed in as the doors were closing, and walked out with the group. Franti was done with his set, and people were leaving the production area to go to the bathroom or to grab a (free!!!!!!) beer. Again, Austin = amazing.
As the group left the elevator and walked into the venue, I just walked along with them. No one checked our hands, and I put mine in my pockets in a futile attempt to act smooth.
I snuck in! I was soooooo excited. That’s when Tim recognized me and came over. What a crazy night.
I’m usually sorta shy about doing whatever the musician on stage asks the audience to do (e.g. clap with me, sing it now, etc), but I was so happy and grateful to be at an ACL show that I did whatever Jimmy Cliff asked of me. I was that annoying guy at concerts who sings as loud as he can (even though he sucks) when encouraged by the band. I had SOOOOOO MUCH FUN.
Total this year: $1,006