Around a decade ago, my colleague Emily Bermes challenged me to write a “ten-year vision” for One Lucky Guitar. At the time, I wasn’t sure where I’d be in two weeks, much less ten years. It was a topic too daunting to even mull, much less describe.
Still, she pushed.
I asked if this was a challenge, a bet? And if it was, I noted, she shouldn’t worry; I love the game, but I never collect.
We laughed. She tapped her watch.
I took a deep breath and answered: “OLG should always be like the American rock band Marah’s new album, If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry—cathartically rocking, passionate, sad, loose, raucous, funny and bittersweet, with its heart on its sleeve and the sound of pages turning, or burning, and taking an absolute joy and thrill in being the underdog. Always be the underdog.” And maybe drink coffee on the Walt Whitman Bridge.
On our best days, and our worst days, we get there.
In the years since, we’ve been blessed to welcome Marah to Fort Wayne five times, each performance better and different than the last, with an evolving and revolving lineup that pins complacency to the wall every single time. The band sounds like Bruce Springsteen fronting The Replacements after eating a plate of ghost peppers and washing it down with a fifth of whiskey.
This Thursday, June 9 2016, though, something even more special is going to happen.
This year, the seven-piece lineup of Marah that made If You Didn’t Laugh… is doing a handful of US dates, and in between Philly and DC and Baltimore and Asbury Park and Chicago, the band has asked to play The Brass Rail. (Marah’s Dave Bielanko correctly calls The Rail “the CBGB’s of the Midwest.”)
My band, The Legendary Trainhoppers, is the opening act.
Listen: I’ve looked. I’ve scoured. I’ve done the research. I went from city to city and country to country to see what was happening all around the world on Thursday, June 9, 2016.
Radiohead is in Spain. Coldplay is in Switzerland. Beyonce’s in New York. LCD Soundsystem is at Bonnaroo. Dylan’s in Berkeley and The Boss is in England. Diarrhea Planet is in Brooklyn.
But the best night of live music on the planet on June 9, 2016 is at The Brass Rail in downtown Fort Wayne, IN.
If you’ve ever believed in a single thing I’ve ever said in my life, believe that.
Sparks fly on Broadway.
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The other thing is this. On Saturday night, June 11, OLG is welcoming David Wax’s trio (part of the larger band, David Wax Museum) to The B-Side. This concert is open to all ages.
David Wax Museum has toured with The Avett Brothers, Old 97’s, Carolina Chocolate Drops and more, and has been lauded by NPR, TIME and The New Yorker.
I’ve been reading these various articles and blogs by under-21 millennials lamenting the fact that Fort Wayne offers them the mall and the roller rink and not much more and, I just want to say, this is your chance! Stick your neck out, and this concert will blow up your imagination and light fire to your creativity. No mall food. No rink burn. Just David Wax leaping around the room, crooning poems and plucking guitar strings and dancing on his tiptoes about the notion that life is worth living, right here, right now, today.
And for you 21+’ers, allow me to note that the concert will be finished at least two hours before GermanFest shouts “last call” and shuts down their kegs of Miller Lite; you’ll have plenty of time to get there and catch up with your friends! Heck, I’ll even join you.
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Here’s the promise: it’s worth it, it really is.
Come to these shows.
If you feel they’re anything less than brilliant, shocking, and life-affirming, I’ll personally pay you your money back.
And if it still feels like a gamble, email me with the subject “PROVE IT TO ME MATT” and I’ll pay for your ticket and put you on the will-call list for either or both shows.
Sure, you may end up owing me for the rest of your life, but don’t think twice about it. You see, I love the game, but I never collect.