The recent trip to the radio station to see the then holder of the number one spot on the country music chart, Granger Smith, was very enjoyable. Although I was vaguely familiar with a couple of his songs, I decided to do a little bit of homework before our trip out across the river to the studio. I feel it is only polite to know a little bit about the person to whom you are going to be face to face with in a photo shoot!
Dressed in anything but western attire, we left the office and headed towards the event, where were were told, very politely, to take a seat. My daughter, who usually enjoys accompanying me to these events, was suffering from a very severe cold, and had been sent home on the previous Monday, and again on Wednesday. However, by Friday, thankfully, she was well enough to make the trip.
There did not seem to be a lot of liaising between those who were organising the event, and those who were behind the desk, and we did not have to show any identification, nor 'sign in'. This was rather unusual. Of course, being the experts that we have become in the 'meet and greet' duties that have so kindly been bestowed upon us, we started to analyse the situation. Lunch had been promised but there was no sign of any catering truck, nor was there an aroma to indicate that we were going to be fed. I realised that I was starting to sound a little mercenary, as although the grub was part of the deal, the main event should be the interview with the rising star!
More people started to enter the reception area of the building, and no one asked anyone for any form of identification. It occurred to us that anyone could have walked in and taken part in the experience. After we had been sitting for about twenty minutes, a spokesman came out from behind the glass partition, which separated us from them, and announced that all was well, and we would be starting the event soon! In the meantime, perhaps we would all like to help ourselves to lunch. Imagination really is one of my strong points, but even I had difficulty with this concept. It would appear that everyone around me had the same dilemma, attempting to envision the tempting meal that was supposedly set before us. Back behind the glass partition ran the spokesman. He returned a minute or two later with a large tin bath filled with bottled water and an assortment of organic sodas, for us to enjoy while we were waiting for the food, which he apologetically announced would be with us "any time now"!
I was quite happy with a bottle of my favourite water! Although I do not like to use this as an advertising page, Topo Chico is my beverage of preference when attending any meeting or show. Perhaps it is because it contains nothing that makes me more thirsty after drinking it, as do the essential added minerals that are contained in many other varieties. Am I the only person who thinks this is a ploy to get us to buy more water, rather than to drink more water? I find that after a bottle of most brands containing the essential added minerals, I am gasping for something that will quench my thirst. However, I digress, and a stand on the soapbox was not my intention today! The fact was that I was being treated like a queen, in my opinion, and permitted to have a whole bottle to myself! As we all took our preferred beverage, with the exception of my daughter, who was sipping her 'honey and lemon' concoction from her own water bottle (although she did take a ginger soda for her mother to sample later, as the curiosity as to what an organic ginger soda actually tasted like was too much to bear!) the spokesman answered a call, and started to count the people in the room. He made a second round, just to be sure, and then removed the cellular devise from his ear, and once again stated, although not in the exact phrase, that 'dinner would be served', within a very short period of time.
Another ten minutes evaporated, like the bubbles in my Topo Chico, and the natives were becoming increasingly restless! Were we actually going to see 'Mr. Smith', or was it all an elaborate ploy to see how many people they (the establishment) could get to wait, and for how long, in a small area, to see an event, without causing a riot! Finally, a car pulled up outside the building, and two young ladies (there are always young ladies!) took from the back seat a bag each, upon which was printed, 'Freebirds'. For those not familiar with this brand name, it is the home of the burrito! (For those whom are not familiar with the burrito, please google, and then imagine adding a large helping of 'mmmmm'.) Samantha and I were very happy, as I had failed to check the caterer when entering for the contests, as anything unpalatable (in our opinion) would have meant lunch, before or after the event, would need to be obtained. We like 'Freebirds'.
In our experience, (and we found it rather amusing that we actually can now discuss these events quoting honestly, 'in our experience',) the events have had a more organised provision. In our experience, the food has been set out, either in labelled boxes, individual picnic type boxes, or served by wait staff. This was a new experience. One of the young ladies took the silver-foil covered stuffed tortillas, and threw each one on a plate, which was then handed to the other young lady, who asked, "Who wants one?" As is so often the case in this part of the world, all defer to everyone else, and no one wanted to be first. However, fortunately there was a child among the crowd who had yet to be aware of the protocol, and he went forward, with the permission of his mother, who followed along closely, and the person with whom appeared to be accompanying them, went third. After that it was a 'free for all', and everyone was handed (or had thrust upon them) a plate with a barbecue chicken burrito.
As disorganised (from our vast experience of these events) as it was, the lunch was delicious. However, a regular burrito is rather enormous, and both Samantha and I cut ours in two, and placed the other half in my handbag, so that she could enjoy it later for dinner. When the spokesman returned, after the crowd had been fed, he asked that no food or drinks be taken into the actual studio, where the interview was to take place. The said event would be in about ten minutes, or less. I was rather concerned about the food in my bag, and asked Samantha if she thought we should remove it. She offered to take it to the car, after all we did have ten minutes to spare, but bearing in mind the inaccuracy of their time keeping so far, it was possible that we would be asked to take our seats much sooner. She then pointed out that they were not actually going to check my purse before entering the studio, and she was quite sure that the whole 'no food and no drink' rule was probably consuming rather than carrying, and I agreed. The trip to the car to make sure that we obeyed the rules was ruled out, and it was a good choice, as we were ushered into the studio very quickly after the announcement.
Unlike the other events, the studio was not set up to have a 'live' performance. The room was set up like a parlour and as all the armchairs had been sat upon, we seated ourselves on the ottomans that were placed around. A fake fireplace was in front of us, with two chairs on the hearth, presumably for the interviewer and interviewee. We waited for the experience to begin.
The host appeared and took his place in front of the metal flames, and announced that he was waiting for a very special guest. Everyone was silent. He repeated that he was waiting for a very special guest, and again the cue was not taken. On the third attempt, those of us who were slightly more astute (I don't think experience played a part in this) started to cheer, and clap. This, apparently, was what he had been waiting for, and the cue for the very special guest to come out from behind the screen. It would appear that those in the crowd were not the only people to misunderstand the cryptic announcements of the host, as nothing happened. No one came out from behind the screen, and the host repeated again that he was waiting for a very special guest. Eventually, he announced that this was a 'cue' and perhaps the very special guest would now appear from behind the screen. He did! With family in tow, Granger Smith claimed the second seat in front of the fake fire of metal flames.
The interview began and songs were played from his new album. He did not sing, but strummed along with his fingers. It was a very good sound. Then came the part that I had studied for. I felt as if I had crammed for an examination, and my reward was getting asked the questions for which I had revised. "Does anyone have any questions?" asked the host, and the silence was deafening. "Anyone?" he asked with what I interpreted was pleading in his voice. As is so often the case in this part of the world, all defer to everyone else, and no one wanted to be first. However, fortunately there was a child-like woman among the crowd, who tentatively put up her hand and waited to be spotted. The host encouraged me to speak. "You travel around a lot, and to many different states. What do you miss most about Texas when you are away?" was the query posed to the musician. Yes, I had done my homework! He answered as if he had been waiting for this, or at least been asked many times before, and enjoyed giving an answer. He told me, and the rest of the crowd, that there was a list. His family, of course! "The food", was next, to which all in the crowd agreed, including me! Then he said, "The weather". He commented that once when in Connecticut, he looked at the snow outside, and saw that it was 80 degrees in Austin, and in true Texan fashion, thought, "Man! Why am I here?" He listed a few more things, and the crowd then came out of their shell and questions abounded!
After a few more songs from the new album were played, and a video of his 'alto ego', Earl Dibbles, Jr., was shown, we all left the studio and lined up, very neatly, and very quietly, for a photo with the famous star. For some reason, I forgot where I was, and when it came to 'my turn', I stood as if posing for a formal gathering! Very straight, chest out, shoulders back, and stomach in. Not only was I the only one who was not dressed casually, but I was posing like my mother in family portraits! My only redeeming factor was my Stetson!
We left the radio station and started our drive back to the office, via another radio station where I had to collect a gift card, for Groovy Automotive! Someone was going to benefit from having their oil changed in their car, in exchange for this little plastic card! I have no idea why I entered the contest for this prize, other than it was a contest, and it was there! Like Granger Smith, I wondered, as we drove around the winding roads, that took us on a very long detour, "Man! Why?"
Someone did benefit from out detour. One of our guys at the office had mentioned that he had needed to take his car into the shop, for some routine maintenance, and I was happy to oblige in giving the gift for which he was very grateful.
My 'turn' on the ferris wheel of opportunity, e.g. my 'turn' to be picked for the prize, has slowed down, and I shall have to stand back in the queue and wait to come to the front again! (I am sure the radio stations have everyone on a random wheel and when you are picked, you are removed from the next spin or two.) I would, at this point, like to thank the radio station, and all those whom have treated me with courtesy, and invited me to take part in these special occasions. I do not wish to sound ungrateful in my relaying of the experience, (vast as it has become,) as it is always so much fun, and still feels novel!
Next weekend is the beginning of SXSW and I have been invited to attend a couple of events, which of course include lunch and entertainment. My son-in-law is still bemused as to how I am on the list for the invites, as he has been in and out of 'networking' in the gaming and technology industry for years, and is yet to receive such an invite, but I always include him in my 'plus' group, so he does not complain.
Spring break is around the corner, and the blue bonnets are starting to bloom. Texas in spring time brings forth so many things that cannot be fathomed in other parts of the world. Perhaps I shall make this, and some of the people whom we encountered this week, and their remarks............. another story!