I had two tickets tonight to the Los Lobos acoustic concert as the Performing Arts Center in Olympia. Each year I get a pair of season tickets and then get various of my friends to come along to the shows. This time, I just couldn’t find anyone that was free. While I was really looking forward to this concert, it was seeming a lot less fun on my own, but I figured I would have a good time anyway, so I headed downtown.
I had an hour to kill before the show and had not had dinner, so I stopped in at a local coffee bar to get a bite. That extra ticket was really burning a hole in my pocket – 3rd row seats to a really hot, sold out show. And sitting in this cafe, a bunch of college students who probably couldn’t afford the relatively steep $40 price. Finishing up my dinner, I gave the ticket to the barrista and told her to choose someone to give it to – I didn’t want to choose and I wanted it to be a surprise, I figured it would be just too awkward to try to do it myself. She thought that would be fun and agreed, and I took off and headed for the theater.
For a while I watched the door, wondering who they’d given it to and hoping they had followed through. It was an interesting crowd, the arts patrons in Olympia are all white-haired and such, but you just know they were Deadheads and rocked out once upon a time :D I bumped into a few people I know professionally, which always seems to happen. I saw lots of young men with their fathers too, and more earringed guys in leather and jeans than usual. But no-one who seemed like the right person.
I headed to my seat, and there I found a young man with a guitar and backpack – one of the many young musicians in Olympia. His guitar was beautiful and obviously his prized possession. He turned out to be from a family of musicians, knew a lot about the band, and had always wanted to see them. He was homeless and had just spent the last of his money, which was not at all obvious given the well-cared-for guitar case, his clean clothes, sketchbooks (he was an artist too) and overall niceness. He had left his wallet in the cafe, and when he went back to get it, they gave him the ticket – it’s hard for me to imagine a better choice.
He was totally excited about the concert and so was I. On the stage were rows and rows of guitars of all imaginable types. The band was truly hot and talented, one of those bands that can morph from sweet Latin ballads with romantic voice, classical guitar, and tenor sax/accordian duets, to hard-driving southwestern rock, to fairly spacy Grateful Dead-inspired transitions. They spent a good part of the concert playing acoustic, but as the night went on, trended toward Latin rock, finally getting the sold-out concert hall to stand up and dance (one of my few quibbles with this venue is that they have tons of great dance bands but no way to really dance). They got all the ladies up on the stage, and the white-haired one in front was putting the teenage kids to shame :)
A great night. I really had a good time, and am thanking the inspiration that brought me good company for the concert and no doubt a totally unexpected surprise for him. Something about Olympia – where things like that seem normal. I’ve had more good times with strangers since I moved here than in the last 5 years put together :)