071504 Lyle Lovett, Ottawa, ON

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On July 15th, 2004 I snuck down to the Ottawa Bluesfest quietly and with much stealth.  I was hoping none of my friends would see me, for two reasons.  1) With apologies to all of my acquaintances and associates, I didn’t want to waste any of my ear-energy listening to mouth-sounds from anyone aside from the evening’s featured performer, and 2) I didn’t want anyone to see me with a lawnchair.

If you’ve ever seen me in person – even across a room – you’ve probably gotten close enough to me to learn of my endless and unavoidable hatred of lawnchairs at a music festival.  Though I’ve always found the very concept abstract and bizarre – who wants to sit down when they are experiencing live music in an outdoor setting? – the growing war of the sitters vs the standers at the Ottawa Bluesfest solidified, nay: cemented my extremely low opinion of the much-exalted lawnchair and those that use them.

Why?  Don’t even get me started*.  But suffice to say if I appear in public with a lawnchair it better contain a secret compartment for sneaking in cans of beer** or I’d better show up in a disguise.  

And so, with my fake moustache firmly in place I snuck quietly through the gate and infiltrated myself into enemy territory where I found an adequately comfortable stretch of acreage where I unfolded my metal and fabric octopus into chair shape and parked me arse, daring anyone to stand up between my eyes and the stage.

I had gone to all of this unethical trouble in service of one of my favourite performers of that era, the wonderful and wonderfully quirky Lyle Lovett.  I felt no desire to lurk near the back of the crowd swaying to Lyle’s clever and funny country-pop, sucking on beers and chatting with friends while he and his band drove nails of biting truth into pure and innocent twangy I-IV-V progressions.  No, when it came to this sort of focussed comic intensity I was happy to be isolated, alone, up close, and seated.

And so I sat as Lyle sang about love, death, and Texas.  I chuckled along with the rest of the lawchairers as Lyle castigated a contingent of reefer-suckers who were polluting his breathing-space, telling the crowd that he didn’t smoke the stuff by choice and didn’t want to have to breath it in while he was trying to perform and could the smokers up front please stop?  Safe and comfortable, we sitters looked back and forth at each other with raised eyebrows.  It was probably a bunch of renegade standers…always causing trouble…

Anyway, the show was great (though Lyle became less and less soul-bursting with every show of his I saw) and I managed to get out of there without seeing any of my friends.  Though I think I may have smelled a few of them.

*Because they are vibe-killing space-eating anti-celebratory laziness-promoters that are antithetical to the shared collective live music consciousness and they somehow attach their owners with a sense of entitlement that is unrivalled in the outdoor leisure department.  And that’s me not getting started.

**Patent pending.

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