Thursday, March 24, 2011

build me a rice house, on Cranberry Lake.


I think maybe you should be sitting down when you read this.

Of course you know that last night, I went to the Ari Hest concert at the Railway Club, here in Vancouver. And I know that even though you’re touring Europe with one of your most favourite people on earth, you are heartbroken that you couldn’t come to the show; that in fact your plane tickets were booked two days before he’d play here, and that made you sad. Without you giving me his CD two years ago, I may not have even known who Ari was. You LOVE Ari, which due to our twinness means that you knew I’d love him too (I do). So, knowing you’d be gone, that I’d be going to the show without you, there was a small part of me that was hoping it wouldn’t be a good evening, so I could say “Nah, you didn’t miss much.”

…but I can’t say it. Anita, it was the best concert scenario you could imagine. You were right, having seen him before you’d told me that I would fall in love with his music all over again and it’s true. But there was some crazy you're-not-gonna-believe-it stuff that happened. Ready? Here goes.

So Sharelle (one of my favorite concert buddies, specifically chosen for this event in your absence) and I went downtown a bit early, to grab some dinner before the show. We (well, I, keener that I am) wanted to arrive at the Club early enough to get a seat right near the front. So a couple hours before he was scheduled to play, we walked in to the Railway Club and started deliberating on where we should sit. There was this tall bar table near the front, with what looked like two empty seats, but there was a man sitting at the table. He had slick hair and was wearing a gorgeous leather jacket, beer in hand; he looked settled, but friendly. I don’t normally talk to strangers, or ask to sit with them no less, but this was Ari, and I would sit beside almost anyone if it meant being closer to the front, so I took my chances. “Is anyone…can we sit here?” I asked, my Canadian timidity right on par. “Sure!” said the man, so we sat down. A few moments later, Sharelle and I started chatting with the guy, Doug, and we mentioned who we were here to see, and he said with noted surprise, “You’re here to see Ari!” …”Yes” I said, completely unaware of who else we would be coming to see, hello. Doug continues, “I’m his drummer. That’s who is sitting beside me.”

Did you catch that, Anita? WE WERE SITTING AT HIS TABLE. (Sharelle says there are certain moments in life that warrant the all-caps recap. This is definitely one of them).

“No we’re not...are you joking!?” I asked, my jaw loose with shock.
Doug laughed, “No, this is his table, I’m his drummer.”
“No you’re not!!” I said, completely unable to hide my abject excitement. This continued for a long minute (longer for patient Doug, I’m sure), until finally the news sunk in: I was sitting at the same table as Ari Hest (and Doug, who turned out to be as awesome as you would expect Ari’s drummer & best friend & roadmate to be). I thought of you immediately, and how you’d die if you were here.

It didn’t take me long to decide that I should get a drink, because what I clearly needed was to calm the heck down, so I grabbed my cash from my purse and hurried off to the bar.

“One Strongbow, please”.

When I got back to the table, Anita, he was sitting there. And you know what I did? I acted so cool, and totally nonchalant and sexy, the way you’d imagine yourself acting if you met the tall drink of water in person yourself.

OR what happened was that I nearly tripped walking up to the table (because I had momentarily lost the location of my feet), stared at him with my eyebrows on top of my forehead, and said “ohmygoshiamlikesostarstruckrightnow!” as we shook hands. Throw in a bit of drool and a giggle, and the scene is just as pitiful as you imagine. Ari, on the other hand, actually was as cool and nonchalant as you have assumed he would be; the contrast in our behaviour immediately embarrassed me, and I calmed my wretching nervous system with a big ol’ sip of cider.

Ari & Doug had to leave our table soon after that, to set up the merch table…well, the videographer for the band before Ari sat on one of the stools (it was a prime videographing location), and then Sharelle let a band member take one of the stools for the band, which meant there were no longer two seats left, just one, so there technically wasn’t room for them anymore. Originally Sharelle and I joked that I’d be calling this post “Damn the Videographer”…but we decided later that it probably wasn’t her fault, or Sharelle’s for giving the seat away, or mine for being so shockingly ditsy, but rather, they simply had to set up their table. Right? We’re sticking with this explanation, to save my self esteem (and the videographer’s reputation).

I did talk to him a little bit later, before he went on stage, to see which albums he had with him and which payment methods he was accepting – and his gracious demeanour convinced me that I hadn’t embarrassed myself at all, and if I had, he was a true gentleman for not letting me know it. He really is as cool as you think he is, Anita.

Finally, Ari was on stage. His first note in the mic inspired me to punch Sharelle in the arm with excitement (Dear Sharelle, thank you for putting up with such a blatant dork). Once they finished sound check, they went on to the show, and I sat mesmerized. We ended up sharing our table (once the videographer left) with two of the other super fans in the room, whose names I can’t remember at the moment, but they were a chill, appreciative couple from Langley, and you would have liked them as I did. You would not have liked the quasi-drunk chicks dancing without propriety at the front for the first half of the concert, or the mass amounts of loud conversation going on behind us (afterward, quite a few of Ari's fans apologized to him actually). But I did my best to block all of the distraction out – an easier task than you’d think, because Ari’s voice takes the room over, and it’s easy to forget there’s anything else happening beyond the scope of his microphone. The four of us at our table, and the other Ari fans in the room, sat rapt with our attention on the stage. He sang a good mix of old and new – some so old I didn’t know them, one so new it’s not even on the new album. I thought of you when he sang “Dead End Driving” (because I think you really like that one?), and how they mixed it up at the end, he and Doug, and did a really cool a cappella bit to finish off the song. You can tell they've been doing music together for awhile.

At one point (between songs, don’t worry) I told Sharelle that I had been practicing Cranberry Lake in my car a lot, daydreaming frequently (since you gave me the album 2 years ago) about how unbelievably cool it would be to sing that song with him. That in fact every time I played it in my car, I considered it a practice for the main event. She laughed, understandably. I figured, though, that I had missed my chance earlier – I had been talking with Doug and Ari, after all, and failed to casually mention how great it would be if they sang that song wink wink. I settled my little heart by telling myself that at least I was at his concert, and at least I got to hear him sing live, and did I tell you yet that I won an autographed set list? I did. Those things combined appeased me.

But then something funny happened. A few songs later, Ari started a sentence between songs…a sentence I had pictured him saying so much that I actually answered him (loudly and obnoxiously, from my seat) before he had even got half way through the sentence. Here’s the re-inactment:

Ari: “Are there any women in the audience, who kno-”
Me: “I DO!” with my hand reaching toward the ceiling.
Ari: “Do we have any volunteers?”
Me: “ME!!!” I said again, nearly squealing (or, okay, maybe I actually was)
Ari: “Okay, come on up!”


I walked carefully up to the stage, sure not to trip over the now-quiet-and-cool fans sitting down in front; watching my steps because I wasn’t sure I could still feel anything below or above my massive grin and pounding heart. I stopped in front of the stage, Ari refreshed his memory with my name, and then I joined Ari on stage. He let me hold his wine glass, because some people like to hold things while they sing (and I do, it’s true, it calms my nerves in a weird way), and then he told me I could have a sip, so obviously, I did.  Then…then we situated ourselves around the mic and he started to play Cranberry Lake. Just like on the CD. Only this time, IT WAS REALLY ARI AND HE WAS PLAYING THE SONG RIGHT BESIDE ME AND I WAS GOING TO SHARE HIS MIC AND SING WITH HIM. Intro, first verse, musical break…it was my turn. I actually remembered most of the words (Ari had to feed me the last few lines, though, and I did mix up some stuff t’ward the end), and then we both leaned in to the mic and “ooo-oo-ooo”d together and I heard a dude in the audience say “eh, they practiced”, and I smiled as I watched my spirit ascend straight into heaven. And I thought of you, twin, and wished you were there to see me.
Thanks Sharelle for snapping this!!!

The song finished and I looked at Ari and he smiled at me and I died and then I somehow landed back in my seat where I once again punched Sharelle in the arm (I think I need to take an Excitement Management course?). The concert moved on but Sharelle and I sat in a shared state of awe as we giggled and she repeated how crazy it was that THAT had just happened and I responded by saying I can’t believe THAT just happened (our conversation may have been peppered with the odd punctuatory expletive). All the way home I repeated, “Sharelle, I just sang on stage with Ari Hest.”

How often does a silly little daydream become reality? How often does a “Wouldn’t that be hilarious if --” turn into a “Hey, remember when?”

Your autographed CD awaits you.
Come home safe,


bonbon said...

ha ha I dont know who he is or what he sounds like, but I coudlnt help but get excited as I read your blogg!!! ha ha Oh Ash this sounds amazing now I"m gonna need to youtube the guy so I can better picture your experience!!! Somebody up there loves yah!!!!

alisha said...

AHHH! I love this! Thoroughly enjoyed reading this, Ash - and I love the fact that your 'lil dream came true. SO freaking cool!

Mama said...

I would give my eye teeth to have been there. Surely, someone, somewhere taped this? But, the experience and memories are most important. And to think it sounded like you practiced together. So not surprised.

Colleen Taylor said...

The only thing better would have been if this happened on your birthday ... or Anita's. :)

anita said...

Dearest Ashley,
Got home late last night and have just sat down to catch up on my internetting after 2 weeks of no access. Your website is my first stop, and thanks to this post the rest of my online productivity might have just withered. My little fav person is standing next to me giggling at my tears as I read with my mouth soundlessly frozen open (punctuated by excited gasps at regular intervals), but how can I help shedding a few water droplets? 2% jealous, 98% pure joy that it happened to YOU (which, thanks to twinnyness, tastes as sweet as if it had have happened to me). You do realize we're bonded for life now, right? :) xoxo