My friend Becky and I went to see Joan Baez in concert last night. She was at the Moore Theater in Seattle.
We wanted to park close to the Moore because of my bad knee. I can’t do too much walking these days. So we caught a 4:30 boat and headed in to Seattle.
After trolling around the one-way streets of downtown for a while, we found the parking lot directly across the street from the Moore – location, location, location – and then the next thing on the agenda was to find a place to eat dinner, preferably a restaurant with bathroom facilities.
The closest restaurant, across the street from the Moore on Virginia Street, was the Buenos Aires Grill. They had the bill of fare posted outside the front door, and we stood there perusing it for a good five minutes. It looked good, but there were no prices listed. To my mind, when the prices are not listed on a menu, it means, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”
Suddenly Becky stopped reading and said, “If it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for us,” and then said to me sotto voce, “Look to your right.”
To my right, through the window, was a table with three people seated. Two were men and one was Joan Baez.
We walked in and a cheerful young man seated us at the table right next to Joan Baez and, as it turned out, her two band members.
Now Joan Baez is a cultural icon, so Becky and I tried to be good. We did not wish to disturb the folk goddess’s dinner. Inside, though, I was jiggling with excitement and thinking, this is so cool.
A lady who came in soon afterwards was not constrained in her behavior. She rushed to Baez’ table and gushed, “I’ve been following you for 40 years! In college I was you! I let my hair grow and carried a guitar around!” And so on. Joan Baez was quite gracious to her, but after the fan went off to her own table we noticed that Baez and her band mates switched seats so that she was sitting with her back to the room, which put her about three feet away from me.
This is so cool.
When Baez got up to leave, she graciously took the hand of the gushing fan and said a few words, and as she passed us I could no longer restrain myself and said, “Have a wonderful concert. We’ll be in the audience.” She kind of smiled and kept walking.
Now I am not famous, but I have been a singer/songwriter and have experienced people coming up to talk to me after concerts. Most of them, bless their hearts, wanted to say how much they enjoyed the music, and double bless them, buy a CD. Sometimes, though, people came up with a peculiar intensity that could be a little scary. There is a thin line between “rabid fan” and “stalker.” So I can understand the wish of a famous person to protect herself from being loved to death.
Becky and I had our dinners. The food was GREAT. The Buenos Aires Grill, as you might imagine from its name, specializes in good beef, well prepared, so not for vegetarians, but for those of us who are still omnivores, it was a treat.
I also called my husband on my cell phone, and said, “Guess who I had dinner with!” Yes, I was so excited I ended a sentence with a preposition. He was suitably impressed, and after I hung up I said out loud, “This is so cool!” Becky laughed. We both laughed.
One young man was still sitting at the Baez table, and I finally turned to him and said, “I’m trying to be good, but…are you a band member?” He smiled sweetly and said yes. He had a British accent. We talked a little. He said that it was great touring with her, and, “…especially chatting with her. We’ve had some good chats.” Becky and I agreed that Joan Baez must have a lot to say that is of interest. Later, at the concert, I would learn that this young man’s name was John Doyle, and he was the music director of the group, and he played guitar left handed.
The concert was great. She performed with three musicians, one of whom was John Doyle, and she also did some solo songs. She opened with, “Flora, the lily of the west,” and did most if not all of the songs from her latest album, my favorite of which was a tune by that album’s producer, Steve Earle, titled, “God Is God.” Good song.
There was a young woman who came out on stage to switch guitars so Baez could play in different tunings. She switched guitars, she unplugged and plugged in sound cords, she moved music stands. The young woman was eventually introduced as, “Stephanie, my assistant.” Man, I thought, I want a Stephanie.
Joan Baez sang from 8 p.m. until almost 10, without intermission, and did an encore of two songs, and in the last song of the last concert of a month-long tour, you could tell that everyone on stage was relaxing and letting down, having a ball.
Then the band walked off stage and Joan Baez sang “Amazing Grace” a cappella, and the audience joined in, and we sang the verses with her, and broke into harmonies, until the whole audience that filled the Moore Theater to the rafters was one vast gospel choir. As the last note faded, she thanked us all and said good night.
I floated down the ramp to the main floor, where I waited while Becky bought the latest CD, then we went outside and noticed a group of people standing around the tour bus. Becky decided to wait, but my knee was done for the night, so I headed off to the car to await her. When she came, she had her CD autographed by Joan Baez, and a photo on her digital camera of herself and Joan Baez standing side by side. “She was very gracious,” Becky said.
Yes, she was. It was so cool.