Drumming up free tickets

At long last, the story can finally be shared. One of the greatest, most magical and serendipitous moments of my concert-going career happened more than six years ago… and the statute of limitations on stalking in the state of Tennessee is six years.

Here’s the deal – early in 2013, my wife had the fever for Rock & Roll half-marathons. She wanted to run an out-of-town event. She looked at the schedule and Nashville seemed like the best choice: a mere four-hour drive away, and we’d always heard good things about the city but we’d never visited before. Win-win.

I was at work, and on the phone with my wife as we were debating whether or not to go. I remembered the words of my music buddy Joe Sampson: “If you go to Nashville, you have to see a show at the Ryman.” (For the unintiated, the Ryman Auditorium is an old house of worship – it still has pews for concert seating – which hosted the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974.)

“The Mother Church of the Grand Ole Opry”

So I hopped online and checked the Ryman schedule… which showed that one of my favorite bands, Band of Horses, was playing there Saturday night! And the marathon was Saturday morning – perfect timing! So I immediately tried to get tickets – but the website kept showing me tickets for Sunday, not Saturday. Turns out that the Saturday show was already sold out, and we couldn’t stick around for the Sunday night show that had been added. So close, and yet so far. From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a matter of seconds. I remember telling my wife, “It’s OK, we’ll go back to Nashville some other time for a Ryman show.” But deep down, I was crushed.

Fast forward to the day of the race. It rained buckets in Nashvegas throughout the entire morning. Monsoon conditions for the whole race. I met my wife at three different parts of the race to cheer her on. She was soaked to the bone, and I was getting sopping wet too, even with a golf umbrella to shield me from the storm. After the race, the sun finally poked through a bit, so we decided to head down to the restaurants and bars along the Nashville “strip”, Lower Broadway. The Ryman is just around the corner from Lower Broadway, so we walked past it during our afternoon travels. I spotted a tour bus in the alley next to the Ryman, and joked with my wife that we should go past it, because I’d seen Band of Horses five times in four different cities by then, and they’d recognize me as a superfan and hook me up with free tickets to their sold-out show. As if!

But as we were joking about that, the Band of Horses bass player got off the bus and headed to a doorway in the alley. Hmm, must be a backstage entrance of some sort… let me think…

There was a Lower Broadway bar that had a back patio on the alley, near the Ryman side door. What the heck, let’s grab a beer and hang out here for a bit. Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, the drummer for Band of Horses, Creighton Barrett, came outside that door for a smoke.

“I wasn’t stalking him, Officer, I swear!”

I really wasn’t, but since he was outside and we were 15 feet away, I couldn’t resist the urge to approach him and ask if I could take a photo with him. And that’s all I wanted – a photo op.

I was positively giddy, and blabbering on incoherently. “Sorrytobotheryou…ImabigfanI’veseenyoufivetimesinfourcities…. wecametotownfromCincinnatiforamarathon…canIgetaphoto?”

Instant Besties!

Creighton was super-sweet about me pestering him during his smoke break. I even screwed up his name and still he let my wife take the picture, and hid his cig behind his back so it wouldn’t show up in the photo.

During our less-than-two-minute encounter, this exchange happened:

Me: Who is opening up for you tonight?

Creighton: Nobody. We’re doing an acoustic set first, then an electric set.

Me (dejectedly): Oh, man!

Creighton: Aren’t you going to the show?

Me: No, it sold out before we could get tickets.

Creighton: You want me to see if I can put you on the guest list?

Me: No, that’s alright, we can try to scalp tickets…

Creighton: Why don’t you let me at least check? If there are any tickets left on the guest list, I can add your names. It’s no trouble at all, and I’d hate to see you miss out on the show if there are extras.

Me (dumbfoundedly): Um, OK, sure.

He then asked me how to spell my first and last name, and typed it into his iPhone. He even held up the screen to me to make sure he spelled it correctly. Then he said “Hang out here, I’ll be back in 10 minutes.”

As soon as the door closed, I thought for sure that we’d seen the last of Creighton Barrett – we’d fallen for the old “wait right here, I’ll be back” trick that band members use on unwanted groupies. But he actually came back five minutes later, and said “You’re in! I put you on the band list for two tickets.”

Unfreakingbelievable! Part of me still couldn’t believe it was true. When we went to box office that evening, I felt super-weird saying “Dotterweich – we’re with the band.” I couldn’t even look as the box office worker went back to check for our alleged tickets. But sure enough, the tickets were there – first row of the balcony, sitting next to relatives of other band members.

Stalking has its privileges…

Before the show began, the ushers even brought us copies of the set lists because we were “special guests” of the band.

Acoustic set on the left, electric/full band on the right.

The show was absolutely fantastic too. My friend Joe was right, there’s nothing quite like a show at the “mother church” and Band of Horses was in peak form. If there’s a Cloud 10, I was most assuredly on it.

Image result for band of horses logo
They put out a record of the acoustic songs… listen closely and you can hear me clapping.

Right place, wrong time turned into right place, right time… completely on a whim.

After the show, I wanted to get in touch with Creighton to thank him for being so sweet and generous. I was thinking I could donate the cost of the tickets to a charity of his choice. But I didn’t have any way to contact him other than via public social media – and if I did that, every shmuck in the country would start stalking him at venues. If you’re tight with CB, let him know – my offer to donate to a charity of his choice still stands.

Meanwhile, channeling my inner Casey Kasem, I’d like to make a long-distance dedication to Mr. Creighton Barrett, the drummer who made his way outside the Ryman and found his way inside my heart forever.


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