On Friday night, Eileen and I drove out to the High Noon Saloon to get tickets for the Erin McKeown/Mike Doughty concert that would take place there later in the evening. The show was slated to start at 9:30, so we got there around 7:15 or so to assure ourselves of getting tickets. We figured we’d get the tickets, then go somewhere for dinner, and return in time for the start of the show. Both of us were looking forward to the concert, which we just learned about last Sunday when I decided to check out Erin McKeown’s website and see if she was on tour. It just so happened that she would be coming five days later, and holy cow!
As we arrived at the “saloon,” there was a young guy, about Eileen’s height, standing outside, smoking a cigarette and holding a glass of beer. He wore glasses and looked harmless. I wondered if maybe he worked for the place. He said something like, “hey, how you doin’?” and I nodded back and kinda mouthed the word “hey.” We turned toward the entrance, and saw a sign posted on the door that said, “Tonight’s show is sold out.” We were both struck with disbelief. I think I may have said, “you’re kidding me.” We entered anyway, hoping for some vague possibility, like maybe that “sold out” actually meant “there are only two tickets left.” But the bar was practically empty on the inside, so we came back out. Outside was clearly not the place to be solving the problem — at least logically. Eileen said later that she had a premonition that the guy who said hi to us would help us out somehow. I don’t know. Maybe I did, too.
As soon as we got outside, the smoker could tell we were a little upset. He asked if we were trying to get into the show, and we said yes as we approached him. “Yeah, I was at work this afternoon and I opened up an Onion and saw that Mike Doughty was playing, so I hopped on my bike and came straight here.” He was one of those guys who turned the conversation toward himself. He also chuckled at himself constantly. “Rode here all the way from Spring Green, ha!” I wasn’t really sure if he was serious, but he wasn’t the kind of guy you asked follow-up questions. He had enough to say. “So how do you guys know about Mike Doughty?”
“Well, I just kinda got into him about a month ago, but we’re really here more so for Erin McKeown. She’s great.”
“Oh, really? Yeah, this is like the fourth Mike Doughty show I’ve been to and he’s really good. I mean he’s a good performer, you know? And the thing is, he gets better every time I see him, ha!”
The conversation went on like this, Eileen and I smiling and nodding a lot; at one point, he referred to himself in the third person as “Jack,” and soon after, he asked our names. “I’m Tim,” I said, and then pointed to Eileen, ready to introduce her, but giving her the chance to say, “and I’m Eileen.” “You’re Jack, I take it?”
“Well, yeah, ha. Jack, John, or Jack Jack. Or Shut the F Up! Or Get Out of My Face! Ha.” He wished us luck and went inside; we stood, waiting, still kinda dumbstruck and not knowing what to do. Another couple came up and discovered the show was sold out. We followed them into the bar, hoping to maybe piggyback off of their problem-solving skills. Inside, it was slightly less deserted. We glanced at the merchandise tables. I considered a few options: lie and say we drove all the way from LaCrosse; hide in the bathroom for the next two hours.
Just then, Jack Jack came over and said excitedly, “Hey, I may have found you guys two tickets, ha.” He left and came back with a couple of guys in their mid twenties.
I spoke with Markus about how we would have to enter with him and his group of friends since the tickets were “will call.” Eileen spoke with Paul, the other guy, about how they came to have two extra tickets since his girlfriend had just broken up with him. And Jack Jack just kinda kept talking to anyone and no one. At one point, I heard him say, “Yeah, so then they told me I had to go into counseling.”
We arranged to meet Markus and Paul outside the saloon an hour later or so. In the meantime, Jack Jack told us how he read a lot of Stephen King. “Yeah, it’s kinda weird. I mean all I read is Stephen King and Dan Brown, which is kinda a strange combination. I mean Stephen King is like really f!@#ed up and Dan Brown is like crazy-ass sh@#. Well, so, I guess maybe it’s not strange. It’s all f!@#ed up sh!@.”
Yeah. Anyway, Jack Jack, thanks for getting us in. Erin McKeown was sick, so her singing was a little off, but she had a good attitude about it all. And Mike Doughty was pretty good too. I’m sure he was better than his last show, ha.