Sunday, May 18, 2008

The White Oaks, with Friends

So, Friday I met up with Mikey, The Rev'rn Ty and Big Tom for lunch, at our favorite waterin' hole, Johnny Ray's BBQ. I don't really know why we still meet there, to be honest, because its really only convenient for Mikey.

When I worked at 106.9 The Point and then NBC13, I was right down the street, so Mikey and I both abused our location power to The Rev'rn and Big Tom, forcing them to come to us. Now, with The Rev'rn living outside of Birmingham, and who knows where Big Tom is coming from, and I'm all the way down Highway 280, we should make Michael travel farther. But for whatever reason, we don't. That's neither here, nor there really.

Found out The White Oaks were playing Friday night at WorkPlay... Now, I'm not really connected to this band other than I know one guy in it, and sorta, kinda know of another guy, though I know his mom more. Matt Jackson is a worship leader, and I have been on many, many retreats and conferences where he was leading worship, both on a stage with hundreds of people, or in a Bible study with nine people (along with Michael Warren). He's married to Mollie, who is the daughter of Sybil Johnson.

Sybil Johnson is the leader of Undivided Ministries, and in my top ten all time Most Influential People, Like, Ever. When she was at Valleydale Baptist Church, she lead The Ministry Formerly Known as Common Ground, and when she left Valleydale, she formed (or continued, not sure which) Undivided, including mission trips to Washington, more Bible studies, discipleship groups and more. She's a neat, neat lady, and one of those that when she goes Home, Jesus will meet her and say, "Hey, good job. Really well done."

All that is to say that Sybil is the mother of Noel Johnson, who is the lead singer of The White Oaks. And its a band that I'd never seen, and honestly, I don't go to that many clubs anymore. Not that I ever did, but I had really forgotten what a cool place WorkPlay is. Oh, she's also friends with THE Al Denson. I celebrate his entire catalogue. I'll be honest with you. I love his music. I do, I'm an Al Denson fan. For my money, I don't know if it gets any better than when he sings "When a Man Loves a Woman".

I was going to call up Little Sister Ashley to see if she wanted to grab some dinner, as The Lovely Steph Leann is in The Ay Tee Ell with her mom, sister and niece on a girls weekend. Turns out, Lil Sister Ashley was actually having dinner with The Rev'rn, at his new house... so I talked to Lil Sister Ashley, and the two of us made plans to go to the show later that night.

As the night wore on, part of me didn't really want to go. Maybe its the new house, maybe its because I'm slowly leaving "early 30s" and heading into "mid-30s", or whatever, but I really like being at home lately. Plus, The Last of the Mohicans was on (currently residing in the #11 spot on the Dave100), so if she called to tell me she was on her way, I might have said, "Uh... go without me." As it turns out, I was able to see Chingachgook take care of Magua, avenging Uncas' death, and the credits were rolling before she called.

We headed to WorkPlay, a little club & bar, but also a small theater that is becoming quite the popular stop for rising stars or well-established stars looking for an "intimate setting". Amy Grant played there about a year ago, and I heard that it was an amazing show, and Kathy Mattea played a few weeks ago, both shows I would have love to have seen.

The theater is kind of "in the round" with the stage set back a little bit, and a small area in front that can be used for a dance area, or in the case of The White Oaks show, just an area where people can be close to the band. The seats are in a U-shaped area, surrounding the stage on three sides, and there's even two stories. I would be surprised if they could get 150 people in there, though there's probably some re-configuring that goes one with bigger shows like Amy Grant. You can see a scan of the lobby by clicking here.

WorkPlay was co-founded by Alan Hunter, one of the original DJs, and also contains a recording studio, a film studio and a full service bar.

We get there, and each pay our $10 to get into the show... apparently we missed the first act, which I heard from several people was not very good. I don't even know the name of the band, but somebody pointed out a saw on the stage and said, "you see that saw? They played that saw. Seriously. It was bad."

Being a The White Oaks show, and the attachment of Sybil, there were lots of people there I knew, including:

  • The Good Doctor Earl. He was sitting at a table with a girl named... Latika? Lateeka? Either way, apparently her parents thought she was black upon birth, but for whatever reason, white girl don't have a white name. She was really nice, though.
  • Tommy McL. He was sitting with The Good Doctor Earl, but ended up at another table. Amy McL and Baby Sophie were absent, understandably. Little Sister Ashley ended up sitting with Dr. Earl and Laquisha.
  • Mikey and his wifey Ashley. They were at one of the booths, sitting with...
  • The Rev'rn Ty, and his friend Brooke. I think it was Brooke. I only know her as Amanda's roommate, not that I've ever met Amanda. I really don't know what I'm talking about here.
  • Drew, who sat down at the end of the booths, though I didn't get much of chance to speak to him. He looked in good spirits, though.
  • Heather Rowland, whom I haven't seen in a couple of years. I think she might have been with Drew, but don't quote me on that.
  • Sybil, of course. She was with her boo Dan, who I think I could count on two hands the number of times I've heard him speak.

And of course, Amy V, whom I just love and adore. You know how you have friends who you don't see for a while, and after a while, you think "Ya know, I guess we're just acquaintances, because I never see this person," only you see them just before, maybe days or even minutes before they make that transition from friend to acquaintance? That's Amy. I randomly see her at random places, but it always makes me happy when I do. She's awesome.

Also saw Abbey Gore, the wife of Matt, who also spent some time leading Monday/Tuesday/Thursday night Bible Study at Sybil's (it bounced around days from year to year). Once again, I hadn't seen her in a long, long time. Later I looked at Mikey and said, "Ya know, I don't think I ever noticed it... but Abbey's kinda hot..." and he said, "Yeah, I think your right." Don't tell anyone I said that, though.

Up walks this chick I'd never seen before, and she spends a few minutes talking to Mikey, The Rev'rn, Sybil, and the others at those two booths that were side by side. I had sat down at a table in front of Mikey's booth, and though I was alone at my small table, I was right next to where Dr. Earl, Laquinta and Lil Sister Ashley was sitting, so I wasn't lonely.

The waitress came by, and I ordered myself a Ginger Ale. She said, "Two dollars" and I said, "Pay up front, I guess?" She nodded, so I handed her a 10. A few minutes later, she came back with a 16 oz plastic cup of Ginger Ale. And no change. I figured that they were just keeping a running tab at my table, so I shrugged it off.

Sybil taps me on the shoulder, and when I turn, she asks, "Is it okay for Nancy to sit here with you?" and I replied, "I would love for Nancy to sit here with me!' She asked, "Have you met Nancy?" and I replied, "Not a clue who she is." The girl who had spent time talking to The Rev'rn and his posse turned to me and Sybil, who said, "Nancy, this is David Dollar... there is a seat here, if you'd like." So Nancy stuck her hand out, we exchanged pleasantries and she sat down.

Turns out, she has a boyfriend who is taking the CPA exam and is buried in books studying. I told her The Lovely Steph Leann was in Atlanta with the women of her family, and from there, we had great conversation the whole concert.

The White Oaks started and really... they sounded good. Really good. They have a hard sound to peg, as the first few songs made me think of The Wallflowers and The Goo Goo Dolls, but later they had a song that reminded me of The Soggy Bottom Boys, and still another song made me think of either Vedder or The Crash Test Dummies. I think Noel's voice sounded like Vedder, but the song sound was of the Dummies. Overall, though, it was a great show.

It was hard to concentrate on the music when Noel Johnson looks so much like Judd Nelson. I kept looking around for Ally Sheedy, eating a potato chip sandwich in the corner. Yes, most of you won't get that, but some of you will, I just know it.

Nancy and I both compared musical tastes, and she agreed with The Wallflowers/Jakob Dylan assessment, and we both laughed repeatedly at the sound guy. The sound booth was in the clear area, directly in front of us, so we could look down into it. The sound guy had a tv there, and at the beginning, the concert was on the screen. Turns out, though, the had DirecTV, and he flipped from the Lakers/Jazz game to Sex in the City to something on WE to finally setting on Bravo, showing "Training Day".

The amusing sound guy, and his multitude of channel options. Including one that actually had the concert on.

I wanted another Ginger Ale, and Nancy had piped up that that was a good idea, so I ordered two. The waitress came back with our drinks and said, "Three dollars," and I gave her a bewildered look. "You never brought my change back." She got wide-eyed and said, "Ohmigosh, I'm so sorry! I totally forgot! Like, I was wondering where in the hell this money came from! I'm so sorry! I'll be back with your change!" Nancy and I both laughed. I looked at her and said, "It's been a long time since I bought a girl a drink. You don't tell your man, I won't tell my chick," and she laughed and said, "Deal!"

Actually, I think the last time I really bought a girl a drink was in 1993, when I bought Deann Westin a Rum & Coke in the bar on the cruise ship. Another story, another day.

Down in the Standing Room Only clear area, I spotted Joel & Angela Blount, who would probably be a little creeped out at how excited I was to see them. See, Joel wrote this song called "Sunday Afternoon", its one of my favorite tunes on my iPod (at least 6 or 7 plays) and she looks like Paige Davis, who is 2nd to only Samantha Brown as Reality Show Host I'm Overly Obsessed With.

We all have this happen to us: There are some people you run into, and let's be honest, you don't really care how they are doing. That sounds mean, but they don't really care how you are either. I mean, they'll share sympathy over a recent tragedy, or be genuinely happy if something big has just happened to you, but for the most part, its like "I'm good, you're good, let's part ways and not see each other for another few years, and tomorrow you won't remember (or care) how I'm doing, just like I won't remember (or care) how you are."

Once, I saw a guy I knew in college while in Barnes & Noble. To avoid the conversation above, I literally hid on the opposite side of the store. He found me anyway, and we spent five minutes catching up, and all I could think of was, "This might the most we've ever talked, and there's a reason..."

Seeing Amy V and Joel & Angela Blount in one night? The polar opposite of that very thing I just talked about. Its more like "Wow, I just want to stand here in your presence and talk about whatever, because I don't see you nearly enough and you probably think I'm a dork but I really am excited you are here!" Which, yeah, is sorta creepy and uncomfortable, so I'll move on.

You know, I hope I wasn't the guy that Joel, Angela and Amy would avoid in Barnes & Noble just to keep from talking too... I might have a complex about this now.

Me and Amy V! Moments after this, Amy V filed a restraining order, and I spent the rest of the evening stalking Joel & Angela outside their kitchen window.

Overall, it was a great night of music and fun. Heck, if this were 1995, I would have asked for the phone number of the chick sitting with me at the table--and gotten it. As it is, 13 years later, I enjoyed telling Nancy about The Lovely Steph Leann, and how great she is. Maybe I'm just getting older in my happily married ways. Next time, I'm bringing her with me. I might even get her hammered just so I can take her home.

Click here for The White Oaks myspace site, also to be added to the links on the right. The song "Hey Julie" has been heard on Reg's Coffeehouse on 94.5

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