Alison Krauss headlined the final Red Butte Garden concert of the 2011 season on Sunday, Sept. 4. In case you missed her, don’t do so again, as of all the musicians who frequent these parts, Krauss is one of the very special ones. She’s been with her band, Union Station, for more than 20 years, and every lick of superb musicianship could only be interpreted one of two ways by any musical aspirant: either stick with the nightclub and campfire circuit and call it a day, or dedicate to your voice or musical instrument and stick to it until you can play half as well as Union Station. Just half of Union Station is a ticket to a solid career.
Not that you’ll ever sing as prettily, or half so, as Alison Krauss—few people do. The point remains that Sunday evening was a great experience for the thousands who were lucky enough to enjoy her concert. That includes the folks up on the hill behind Red Butte’s fences—I know they didn’t pay, and I don’t care. I hope they can stay there forever, and I hope the folks who want to build a wall preventing those persons from getting a glimpse (it is neither a great view nor great sound, so let it be) of a free concert (safety be damned), rethink that idea and use the funds for additional shows. Let those folks on the hill hear the music. Music is freedom, after all. But, that’s digression.
Alison Krauss is a real musical treat—that is, unless you were sitting where I was. City Weekly is a sponsor of the Red Butte Garden musical series, and it also purchased a sponsor table this year. In years past, I’d trudged to a place on the grass to eat my sandwiches and drink my wine or beer. I was no different than the—I’m going to guess—over 80 percent of the people who attend Red Butte, who do so with some hard salami, some good bread and a little vino. But, my knees are for crap, so I quit going to concerts, as the grass sitting wasn’t worth it.
This year, we upped our sponsorship deal a bit and a table came with it. Voila! My knees are fine, but my ass is sore from the metal chairs. So it was that less than midway through Krauss’ performance my butt began hurting, and I began to squirm a bit. The squirming caused me to pay increasing attention to the table next to me, which, thanks to two very obnoxious and oblivious women, was getting louder and louder. If you know anything at all about Alison Krauss, you know her voice is one that must be listened to very carefully, her songs carrying all kinds of innuendos and subtleties. Missing even a little phrase can mean you don’t understand the entire song. I began hearing less and less about love, honor, happiness and woe, and more and more about whatever card game or tractor pull the two human vuvuzelas were making noise about.
Same as on the grass—most, if not all, of the seats in the sponsor section were filled by persons without aversions to public consumption of alcohol, particularly wine. Every table that I could see was pouring some kind of wine from every glorious corner of the winemaking world. It made me wonder what that nitwit Sen. John Valentine would do if he were to attend a Red Butte concert. He’d likely try to pass one more of his asinine and useless laws to prevent alcohol drinkers from seeing his kids. It also made me think now would be a prudent time for all Red Butte lovers to petition the concert booker to schedule Red Butte concerts on Sunday only. Anything that lessens the chance that Valentine and his band of brothers and sisters being in my breathing space (I find his righteous odor to be very offensive) is a good thing.
Though annoyed, I didn’t tell the women to shut up. I’ve done that before, and it usually results in me getting popped in the eye, ostensibly because I’m a big guy and people like to hit big guys, plus I don’t have tremendous tact in these situations. For instance, back when the Rolling Stones played in the old U of U football stadium, I spent the better part of “Satisfaction” in a wrestling match with some guy and his girlfriend because I told them both to throw up somewhere else, and not on my shoes. So this time, I left it to a guy closer to the offending women to pipe them down. I thanked him later.
It was kind of amazing. When he turned to tell them to shut up, they offered him some wine, thinking he was asking for a drink, not silence. He repeated himself. Then they understood. Like many dumb drunks, they acted hurt. They later got a second wind, and one of them became utterly annoying, this time intentionally, loudly clapping her hands right behind the nice guy’s head. The two gentlemen the women were with never said so much as a peep, so I took it to mean they were used to such shitty behavior. And shitty—plus rude, inconsiderate and many more unflattering adjectives—is just how it was. It pretty much ruined a perfect evening for a number of people and fellow sponsors.
There’s not much more to say, except that I’d expect that as the major sponsor for Red Butte—the one all of us are grateful to, and with whom I do a reasonable amount of business—Wells Fargo (whose placard sat upon the offensive women’s table) would take a little more care when handing out its allotment of concert tickets or would insist that idiots don’t sit at their tables.