Sometimes you lose your head, think of all the stupid things you’ve said…

That probably should have been enough, but I saw Jim Cuddy solo in New York three weeks later. I even brought my sister. Somewhere, I wrote down the set list, but all I remember is after the show, when I was waiting to talk to him and he was holding some guitar strings. I asked if any of them were G-strings, and he asked me if I needed a G-string. My mind didn’t go “My celebrity crush is hitting on me and/or has a sick sense of humor,” it went “50-year-old married man is hitting on me eww eww eww.”

I topped that in New York in June, in an early Canada Day concert, when I admitted I was letting him look down my shirt and offered him a string from my violin. I don’t remember if my face turned bright red, but my shoulder did from the sun that day.

By then I should have realized that every time I talked to him, I was going to say something stupid, and I had no chance of stopping that.

When Blue Rodeo came back to Boston in November 2005, I saw them and ended up talking to him before the show, after the show in the Paradise, and after the show outside the tour bus. My father and I saw them in Northampton the next night, and I introduced my father to Jim, who didn’t tell that I’d skipped orchestra to see Blue Rodeo the night before.

After that, I decided I needed a break from those really strange conversations, though I didn’t realize how long that break would last.

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Is it you, I wonder?

The next thing I knew, Blue Rodeo scheduled a concert for February 13, 2004, and I decreed that I was going, come hell or high water. Even if it involved travelling to Canada in February. I did not get a ticket in the presale, and wasted an entire afternoon trying to get in. My ticketmaster seat was in about row 13, which I didn’t appreciate, but I made it up to the show with a sign that said “I came from Boston for my birthday,” a curly silver gift bow, and the beginnings of a horrible cold.

The show was incredibly amazing, over three hours of pure musical pleasure, and a whole bunch of Blue Rodeo fans sang happy birthday to me at the end. Me and my sign hung around for a while after the concert to talk to James Gray, the then-keyboard player, and some fans. I asked him for a picture with the bow, he said no, I got a picture without the bow, and I begged my way into the concert afterparty. I got to celebrate my birthday with the “uncool” half of Canadian music.

Countless people wished me happy birthday, Ron Sexsmith gave me his seat at the bar, someone bought me a shot, but mostly I just stood in one place trying to work up the courage to talk to one particular person. His mother, wife and children were in the room, so I didn’t want to be that intrusive or that obsessive. I ate some really gross appetizers and just…waited.

At who-knows-o’clock in the morning, I decided I had to leave, so I was going to go apologize to Jim Cuddy for acting like an idiot. And ask for a picture. Because dear god did I have a crush on him.

I walked up to him and held out my sign. He said, “Oh, you’re from Boston, I remember you, we talked in the bar!” That was mortifying.

Next I asked him for a picture, and to hold the bow. He threw an arm around me with the bow, held his beer in his other hand, and screamed “Red Sox suck!” while the picture was taken. I flipped him off. He laughed at me. He asked me how I liked the show, I swooned, I tried to answer him, god knows what I said, and eventually I told him “you have a lovely evening” and I gathered my stuff to leave.

At that point, I actually lost my ability to speak. I had to have someone else call a cab for me to get back to my hotel. I pretty much couldn’t even think. The next morning, I spent an hour writing down a concert review in a chair in a corner at Chapters, and the hotel concierge laughed at me because I was drooling.

By then, I was sure that he knew I liked him. But hey, doesn’t everyone want their celebrity crush with a bow for their birthday, even in photographic form? Also, by the time the picture was taken, it was Valentine’s Day. Awesome.

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A process man am I…

Basically, I realized last week that I’m a functioning adult, so I really have to process what happened in February.

As the story started, a college student (and Barenaked Ladies fan) in Nebraska recommended Great Big Sea to me, so I went to see them in 2002 and loved them. She then recommended Blue Rodeo, yet another of her favorite bands. She also told me that Jim Cuddy was hot.

I saw Blue Rodeo for the first time in June 2003. I was front row, knew none of the songs, dressed in Canadian colors, got a guitar pick, some autographs, had a blast, and went home without finding Jim Cuddy hot. When they somehow managed to come back to Boston in October, I decided to see them again.

I got to the venue early, as is my wont, and who was sitting at the bar watching the Red Sox-Yankees game with a beer? Yep, of course it was Mr. Cuddy. I decided that since my friend in Nebraska was so obsessed with him, I’d go introduce myself and then rub it in her face that I’d met him. I walked up to him and just started talking. It may have been about sports. It may have been about music. It may have been about my underwear. I shook his hand and got his autograph. Halfway through the show, I was so embarrassed about whatever I’d said prior to the show that I just left. In my defense, the show was loud, Greg Keelor wasn’t there, and I had a headache.

My embarrassment over my inability to close my mouth became so all-consuming that I had to focus on other things related to him – somehow I became fixated on the man’s nose. Within a week, I ended up with a gargantuan crush, but wanted to apologize to him for my lack of mental filter and had no idea when I’d be able to meet him again. But OMG he was so hot and he wrote with his left hand and he was the nicest person I’d ever met in my entire life…

Talk to him ever again? Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

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I’ve seen a little but it ain’t enough.

I found out last August that Great Big Sea, officially my second-favorite band, were going to take at least a year of mostly hiatus, so that its members could rest, recuperate and engage in other musical ventures. I saw Sean McCann last October, and concluded that his solo act was amazing. I told him that he was the only side projects of any of my favorite bands who I’d see again, no questions asked, though who knows when he’ll be back solo south of the border. Then I saw Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle, and the Jim Cuddy Band, and I still haven’t processed the latter three months later. Besides the fact that OMG EPIC CRUSH AND HE KNOWS.

Anywho, sometime at the end of March I received an e-mail saying Alan Doyle finally put out a solo album and would actually be coming to Boston on tour. Well, Johnny D’s, which is Somerville. I bought two tickets without thinking and knew I’d somehow find someone to go with. And use prepositions to end sentences with. I did a bit of research and found information about the music, including some of his collaborators…like Jim Cuddy. Should’ve known – they’ve sung together before and work with the same charities and things like that.

The two of them singing a duet together? MY FAVORITE SONG EVER. OMG OMG OMG OMG. It’s called “Northern Plains,” and the harmonies are so incredible that I want them to be permanently stuck inside my ears. The song’s written by Alan and Hawksley Workman, and I would be thrilled to hear it in concert, especially with the original singers 😉 I’m not sure, but I’m hoping that I like it because I find the harmonies pretty and not because I find the singers attractive. I wish I learned how to write harmonies that sound like that when I took music theory. When I sing along, I sing the harmony, because Jim’s in my vocal range (Alan’s far too low for me). I keep wanting to say age range, but the guy’s old enough to be my dad!

Anyway, I should probably write a full-on review, but I absolutely love the entire album. I’m surprised that Alan managed to have a part in writing every song, and that he got so many amazing people to work with him. My second-favorite song on the album is “Lover’s Hands,” with Maureen Ennis as his duet partner. Somewhere, I have an Ennis Sisters album, though I’m not sure if they sing together anymore. I didn’t like “I’ve Seen A Little,” the first single, until I heard it on the album, and now I like it. I think the best thing about the record is that I don’t have an epic crush on him so I don’t feel pressured to love every single song, and I do at least like every single song. (For comparison, I still hate “Everyone Watched the Wedding,” and I don’t want to lie about it, “Bulletproof” makes me want to throw things at someone’s head. I’m better with “Pull Me Through” after hearing it played solo at a piano.)

So, I’m pretty sure that no one reads this, and I’m perfectly fine with that, especially since watching other people drool over Jim Cuddy makes me laugh, and watching other people drool over Alan Doyle makes me cringe, but in case anyone else is reading this, please, go buy “Boy On Bridge.” It’s a mixture of musical styles, and it’s amazeballs.

Holy crap, I can’t believe I just typed “amazeballs.” And again.

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Your mission, should you choose to accept it.

Book a trip that includes your parents that ends up in Ottawa on Friday, July 13, to see Blue Rodeo at Bluesfest.

July 8 – drive from central Connecticut to Burlington, Vermont.
July 9 – drive from Burlington, Vermont to MontrĂ©al, QuĂ©bec.
July 12 – drive from MontrĂ©al, QuĂ©bec to Ottawa, Ontario.
July 14 – drive from Ottawa, Ontario to central Connecticut.

There is a full-service Marriott within walking distance of Lebreton Flats, we’re getting VIP seats at the concert so that we don’t die, we have a car that can get to MontrĂ©al and back on one tank of gas, there’s a Star Wars exhibit at the Science Centre in MontrĂ©al, the trip back from Ottawa can be done in 7:30ish which is good because the “highlights” on the way would be Kingston, Syracuse and Albany, and I have no expectations of meeting any of the band.

We all have valid passports, the MontrĂ©al Jazz Festival will be over by that week, it’s not Canada Day or Independence Day, and it’s no longer a concert trip, it’s a trip that includes a concert. We’ll see some museums, go cycling, visit my friend in MontrĂ©al, and attend a concert.

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I will never forget the things you said…

Another probable reason I haven’t seen Blue Rodeo in six years? I remember every single word I say to Jim Cuddy, and dwell on it for ages. I say some pretty dumb stuff – sometimes I wonder if he acts as my therapist. Then I want to talk to him again to make up for whatever I said, and the next time I meet him, I say something else dumb. And then I dwell on that. It’s a vicious cycle, and I’m about as obsessed with what I say to him as I am with the man himself.

And my god, he’s actually gotten better-looking in person since 2005. Since he’s older, the lines around his eyes now match the lines around his mouth (which “she,” whomever “she” is, loves). Then again, his hair is so obviously dyed, and probably has been since the first time I saw him, that he’s not completely allowing himself to look his age. Not to mention that a cartilage piercing on a 56-year-old is visually jarring.


The picture above is the first time I got him with a bow for my birthday. During this meeting, after the Blue Rodeo and Friends concert in February 2004, I flipped him off because he screamed “Red Sox suck!” during the picture. Then again, I’ve now gotten him drunk, with a bow, for my birthday, and sober, with a bow, for my birthday. If I’m going to get a man with a bow for my birthday, I think I prefer him sober.

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I don’t get it anymore…

Actually, there’s a new BNL rarities album coming out, and this song is on it! Woo!

Tickets for solo Alan Doyle: ridiculously easy, taking about as much time as I need to type in my credit card info.
Tickets for the Jim Cuddy Band: ridiculously easy, taking about as much time as I need to remember that I need two Montreal tickets.
Tickets for Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle: ridiculously easy, taking about as much time as I need to figure out where to order them.

Tickets to Barenaked Ladies: really stinking hard, plus one idiot complains about “only getting third row.”

Side project tickets? Easy. Full-band tickets? Hard.

So yes, I’m going to see Alan Doyle on Thursday, June 7!!!

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