This is for Martha, who picked out the photo, and for Chris.
Two years ago tomorrow, I went out to the 506 with t. We were there to see the Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (Perry, cough up that new album now!), who we’d seen open for the Mountain Goats a year earlier and really love. P&T were the second band on a bill of three local groups; the now-defunct Nathan Asher & the Infantry were the headliner. I don’t remember much of their set, because I was standing at the back of the bar, talking to the first opener’s lead singer about Counting Crows and Queen, and flirting with their lead guitarist in a manner than would, ultimately, turn out to be fruitless, which was also ultimately for the best.
That first opener was American Aquarium. I’ve written extensively here about how much they mean to me, but it’s worth saying again: the first time I heard BJ sing you ain’t Miss Right, but you’re Miss Right Now, I fell ridiculously hard. Two days later — Saturday night, the first week of December — t., shep., and I drove to Raleigh to see them for the first time at the Pour House, a place that these days I know so well I could shoot there blind, and we discovered the wonders and terrors of Saturday nights: $4.50 double tall Long Islands.
American Aquarium took me straight into the local scene, and indirectly to Holy Ghost Tent Revival, who subsequently took me to so many other people and opportunities themselves; American Aquarium changed my life, in a totally cheesy Lifetime movie sort of way.
This is a photo of Kevin, who’s been behind the kit for AmAq since the spring; I’m fond of his dumb face and he won’t hug me unless I high-five him first and he’s a good drummer. But this is for Chris, who was behind the kit the first night I saw those boys and who I will always miss at their shows, and it’s for BJ and Bill and Zach and Ryan and Whit and Jay and especially Sarah. This is for a band who I’ve seen more times than any other artist ever, and who I love, and who spend most of their year on the road now but who also always come home to play the Pour House on Long Island night the first weekend in December.
And if they ever stop, I’ll cheerfully separate BJ from pieces of his anatomy he’d rather keep until they start again.