So… Sugarland’s “Already Gone” is number 1 on the country charts this week! And I’m singing the background vocals! It’s my first number one credit! This is a big deal!
In other news, I had dinner with one of the stars from TV’s One Tree Hill the other night and had no idea until much later. Oops. Here’s what happened.
So my friend Jeff Cohen -co-writer of Sugarland’s “April Showers” and “Take Me As I Am” – is one of those guys who knows everybody. And I mean EVERYBODY. Just mention a famous person and he knows them, works with them, and sleeps on their couch when he’s in L.A. That’s just the way it is with Jeff. So when he invited me to join him and some “friends” at a local sports bar to watch a playoff game I should’ve known that Jeff’s “friends” can be anyone from his next door neighbor to the star of a teen TV drama. Tonight, both were present and accounted for.
I’ll keep this brief. The long and short of it is that this girl was so cool, sweet and down to earth that I didn’t realize who she was. I started to get an inkling after I said things like:
“I don’t really enjoy most of what’s on TV.”
“I mostly just like Lost and HGTV.”
“I love Keanu Reeves, but that’s it.”
Comment after ignorant, aloof, incriminating, comment. Throughout the whole night, this lovely lady chimed right in with me, never once annoyed by the fact that the girl sitting across from her, hogging all the mozzarella cheese sticks, clearly had no idea who she was talking to. As I listened to her replies, I started to become suspicious that I might not know the full background on the folks Jeff had invited to dinner.
One Tree Hill star: “I LOVE Lost! Did you know that William Mapother is Tom Cruise’s cousin?”
*I just now had to google that the guy who plays Ethan on Lost (a fairly small role) is actually named William Mapother.
The point is, this girl knew the real names of just about every actor on TV. It was almost like she knew them personally…
One Tree Hill star: “Well, I really love Keanu Reeves.”
Something about the way she made this statement just seemed to carry so much more weight than the way that I said it. When SHE made the statement, you could almost read into it like “I love Keanu Reeves. I love our lengthy conversations about Transcendental Meditation and our cross-country motorcycle rides.” You know what I mean?
At one point, it was discovered that Jeff’s neighbor works for a company which provides stage lighting for touring acts.
Jeff to One Tree Hill star: “I’m pretty sure these guys were out with you when you were on the road with The Wreckers and Gavin Degraw.”
It just got worse and worse. At one point she was talking about her restaurant with her husband and I was like, “Oh! Are you a chef? That’s awesome!” Ouch.
I mean, I get it. I get being in this business and feeling reluctant to tell people what it is that you do. Here’s what happens most of the time when I tell people what I do:
Innocent Bystander: “Hello. What do you do?”
Me: “I’m a musician.”
This is usually the point where the Innocent Bystander flashes a look of shocked confusion quickly melting into pity and then tries to recover with something like, “How nice!” with an underlying message of “Hope that whole thing works out for you.” If they press on for details I’ll usually eventually come clean by saying;
Me: “I play with Sugarland, it’s a country band.”
I get one of two responses.
Innocent Bystander #1: “Oh. Right. Just a little band called Sugarland.”
There’s a sarcastic connotation from this person because if you’re a pop-country fan it’s the same thing as saying “I play for a pop artist named Madonna.”
But what about the other response?
Me: “I play with Sugarland, it’s a country band.”
Innocent Bystander #2: “That’s nice. Do you guys have a CD available?”
This is the standard response that I get from just about everyone who lives in New Orleans, including my Grandfather. So you can see why I, and others in this business, are generally reluctant to go around blabbing about our particular line of work. I imagine that this whole process is infinitely more unbearable for actors and actresses. But still. It would have been nice to not have spent an entire evening with my foot in my mouth.
Later, I was able to ask Jeff what exactly it was that this charming young lady did for a living.
Jeff: “Ummm, she’s Hayley on One Tree Hill.”
Me: “That’s nice. Do they have a DVD available?”
For further clarification I called my go-to resource for any current pop-culture phenomenon; Becky Fluke.
Me: “Hey Becky, do watch some show called One Tree Hill?”
Becky: “I might as well admit it. Yes I do.”
Me: “Umm, is there someone on the show named Hayley or something?”
Becky: “Well yeah, that’s one of the main characters. Why?”
Me: “I think I accidentally had dinner with her the other night and didn’t realize it.”
Becky quickly sent me photos, links and show times for the show. Identity confirmed. She gave me a reminder phone call at ten minutes until 8 the other night to turn it on so I wouldn’t miss it. When I turned it on, there was my dinner partner, dropping her pretend TV kids off at some guys house so she could go to the club where it was known by all that she was an amazing singer, hence the spin-off tour with The Wreckers and Gavin Degraw.
Jeff also pulled a fast one on me in regards to his latest CD, just released under the pseudonym “Pancho’s Lament.” He called me up one night and casually asked if I would track bass and backgrounds for a tune on a disc he was putting together with some of his “friends”. I gladly accepted and spent an hour or so laying down the goods. He gave me the CD 2 days ago. Also on the CD are: the guys from the Spin Doctors, the guys from Blues Traveler, Lisa Loeb, a host of Nashville’s finest indie artists, and the woman who’s the newest judge on American Idol. Jeff, you gotta tell me what I’m getting into here. But seriously, the disc is great and I’ll hopefully be posting the track I’m on up on the ol’ Myspace music page very soon!
So that’s my latest blundering foray into the world outside of my condo…