There once was this band called The Lemonheads and they had a lead singer named Evan Dando and when I was in college I had a huge crush on Evan Dando.
(Please forgive me for taking this pause right now, I’m trying to catch my breath having just chased a Beagle a quarter-mile on black asphalt in my bare feet, and after I finally caught him I brought him back home and put him in a pot of boiling water with some garlic and salt. What’s for dinner tonight? Korean!)
My favorite Lemonheads song is “Knoxville Girl” which really isn’t a Lemonheads song but a cover of an old bluegrass tune about a guy who beats a woman to death with a stick. It’s real pretty.
If you were to ask me right now to recite the entire song I could do that for you, right now, every single word because I know every single word, but last night when I was on stage standing mere inches to the right of Evan Dando the only thing that came out of my mouth was, “UHHHHHHHHHH.”
Evan Dando (you must MUST include his last name when you talk about him otherwise someone might think you’re talking about another Evan, an Evan who is neither Dan nor Do) was in town last night performing solo, just Evan Dando and his Evan Dando guitar. Jon’s friend was supposed to attend this concert with his wife, but Jon’s friend is currently sitting in a hotel room with Jon in downtown Cleveland where the heart of rock and roll is still beating. That’s where I came in. And did I ever come in. I came in and then kept going, all the way up on stage and into the dark, dark heart of total humiliation.
The concert was at a place called The Velvet Room, a venue about the size of a basketball court, and there were maybe 25 people there. Maybe 26. Definitely not 27. I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to stand in the front row of an Evan Dando concert so I walked to the front of the stage alone as everyone else sat against the walls with their arms folded. You know, I like living here, I really do. The mountains are nice and it’s easy to get around and for the most part the Mormons leave us alone, but sometimes I’m a little embarrassed when people come to visit because this place feels like a 15-year-old with braces going on his first date, and right before his date shows up his older brother gives him an atomic wedgie and sticks a wet finger in his ear.
After about four or five songs Evan Dando actually asked for requests, could he be any cuter? And since he gave me permission to do so, since I wouldn’t be one of those obnoxious people in the middle of the crowd at a Radiohead concert yelling, “Play Creep! Creep!” I yelled, “Knoxville Girl, and by the way, thank you for coming to our little city.” He smiled and asked if I’d like to come on stage and sing the harmony, I’m not making this up, although I wish I was because then I wouldn’t ever have to remember what happened next. I could go on living life knowing that I never walked up on that stage and stood next to Evan Dando and could not remember one single word to that song and instead just stood there, crouched over like a little 80-year-old woman with osteoporosis and no teeth, and Uhhhh’ed.
Right about then Jon’s friend got a phone call from his wife where she said, “You might want to tell Jon that Heather is on stage with Evan Dando right now.” And I know that when Jon got the news that all he could think was, “NOTHING GOOD CAN COME OF THIS.” He leaves me alone for one night, and that night happens to be the night I botch my one chance to be a rock star.
By the end of the song Evan Dando had inched several noticeable inches away from me as I had switched from Uhhhing to making a BAAWWWR BAAWWWR noise in rhythm to the guitar. It made sense at that moment, you know, to roar incoherent nonsense while standing on stage with one of my musical icons. As I walked off stage I felt like I was off to pick up my 15-year-old date who would have his underwear wrapped around his ears when I arrived.