30 May 2010

Last of the Full Grown Men

It's a quarter past the 90's and the true start of summer is about to happen.  The measure of the change from spring to summer came not with Memorial Day or an equinox, but with seeking out the idol of idle youth.  One could set their seasonal watches by the first Webb Wilder show of the season at 328 Performance Hall.  There was never a set date for the beginning of summer.  It always happened in that magical time when the weather broke enough to wear shorts and before the humidity became so oppressive one had to swim from one's car to the club's entrance.

In those days, going to a Webb show was a youthful ritual pilgrimage.  Summer might not happen at all if the trials of 328 were not met.  Securing a free and non-towable parking space... Slinking through the side streets leading to 328 without getting mugged or running into someone headed to the Jungle down the street... Cutting a hole through the thick coating of clove cigarette smoke and second hand patchouli that lingered around the club's entrance... Hoping the bartender had the foresight to stock an extra case of Guinness... Trying to start a conversation with the out-of-your-league Vandy girl who would never give the time of day to a guy who drove a Rabbit convertible...   Waiting out the Gun Bunnies or some equally horrible band for Webb to take stage... The ritual had to be maintained for the sake of summer after all...

It wasn't that Webb Wilder held some Phish-like sway over the audience, but the shows were always fun.  You were never sure where the shtick ended and the truth began for the rock-n-roll private eye.  That coupled with the honky tonk inspired tunes made for one hell of an evening. And sometime around quarter till 2000, the summer ritual ended.  It must have been around the time Nashville Scene sold out to Village Voice and In Review went under.  I moved on and my idle college and mid 20's years drew to a close too.

I hadn't thought of that ritual until my wife sent me an email about Webb playing at Dragon Park today.  Perhaps Webb had a mystical revelation that Nashville hadn't been the same since a quarter past the 90's and decided to appease the ghosts of the old Nashville Scene.  No matter the reason for the reemergence of the Webb-summertime link, I had to find out for myself.  Packing up the family, I set out to see for myself.

We got to the park a little late, but in time to hear Human Cannonball as we found a spot to get our groove on.  As we walked around, I looked at the crowd and most everyone mirrored myself.  We had taken the family out to seek out the beginning of summer and introduce our idle youth to the wonders of a Webb Wilder show.  I noticed that all the kids, like my own, weren't into the show at all.  The acrid smell of clove cigarettes and patchouli was conspicuously missing.  The strongest thing to drink was my own Mapco Diet Coke.  All the while, parents were chased their idle youth around Dragon Park. As quickly as the show had started, Webb's performance was cut short due to a thunderstorm.  Somehow I thought it was for the best because I realized that Webb Wilder wasn't the last of the full grown men.  He was just the first...

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