Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Late notice, because I keep bloody forgetting: Desperate Man Blues is on SBS tonight at 10pm. A brilliant doco which all the Flop Eared Faithful should watch.

Two more Gillian Welch/David Rawlings items before I move on. Sigh.
Herald review of Roxy Show
Transcript of 7.30 Report.

Is anyone having trouble seeing the photo in the last post?

LAN Downunder takes on the Red Headed Stranger.

This is cool too. Round here we spend alot of time bagging pseudocountry poseurs like Rascal Flatts but I am still in a good mood so here is a heartwarming story. I've long admired Jeff Wall's often hilarious and insightful writing on music. I don't think he is updating Twangzine anymore but it is still worth rifling through the archives.

Why Rascal Flatts Deserve to Live

Last night, I took little Emily and her mom to go see Rascal Flatts in Winston Salem, NC. Emily is 13 and has Spina Bifida, and a bunch of brain problems. Her condition is terminal. She can walk, but in crowds and over long distances, she needs a chair. We just found out last week that she has a buildup of fluid on one side of her brain again and that they just can’t operate on her anymore.

Emily has met them once before at the LAX airport. She recognized them from CMT and went up to them and said hello. They were busy at the time talking to some for real bikini models, but dumped the supermodels to spend a few minutes with this little girl in a wheelchair. It was the highlight of her visit to LA.

Emily hears that Rascal Flatts is coming to town and she wants to go see them. Her mom ain’t got the money. She ain’t got no Daddy, and the medical bills are a whole lot more than the insurance covers. I would have just bought her a ticket, but we ain't got no money either.

I remembered talking to a friend in Nashville who told me he was playing with a Hot New Country Gomer and that there were doing part of the Rascal Flatts tour. I decided that I was going to get Emily into the show, and that not only was I going to get her into the show, but I was going to get her backstage. This would be my new mission in life.

I called the record label. No luck. I called every magazine I had ever written for about a possible story concerning Rascal Flatts and a poor crippled girl. I was basically told that there were no shortages of stories concerning Country Music stars and little crippled kids, That every publication had several such stories sitting around for when they needed to fill some space. I called Rascal Flatts publicist and never got a call back. I found out my friend wouldn't be on
this leg of thetour, so that angle wouldn't work either. I then went to work on their management. After wading through several layers of voice mail hell, I finally got hold of Doug Nichols. All he wanted to know was how many tickets and backstage passes I needed. He didn’t care anything at all about press or publicity. Just tell him what I needed and he would make it happen.

When I told Emily that she is going to go see Rascal Flatts and meet the band, she screams and hugs my neck. The day of the show I am extremely nervous. I’ve had smoke blown up my ass before by band managers. Emily has her hair done and gets all primped up. Please God, let their be tickets waiting. Please don't let me disappoint this little girl. We go up to the Will Call window and they can’t find our tickets. The lady working the window doesn’t give up and starts digging through envelope and boxes and magically they appear. Three tickets up front, not way back in the nosebleed section, and three backstage passes for the Meet and Greet.

The staff at the Joel Lawrence Coliseum in Winston Salem went out of their way to be helpful to Emily. When it came time for the meet and greet, Emily, and another little girl in a wheelchair were put first in line. The band came in and made a big deal over her. They signed her cowboy hat, they all gave her hugs, and were extremely gracious with their time, even though there were a roomful of people waiting for pictures and autographs.

As we rolled out into the hall, Emily had tears in her eyes. They were tears of joy. This had been a big deal for her, a really, really, really big deal. I got my neck hugged a couple of more times and told her that I love her, and was glad to have been able to help. I didn’t stay for the show, as I had to rush to the airport to pick up my mother-in-law. But I left feeling good.

I don’t think I did anything special except make a bunch of phone calls and grovel to people. But Emily and her mom acted like I had just bought them a house. The true heroes of this story are Rascal Flatts and their management team. You can say whatever you want about their music, but I have to honestly say they were all wonderful people.

They may not have made a fan out of me last night, but they damn sure made a friend. I owe them one, big time.

The reason you are getting this, is just because I wanted to tell somebody about what the band had done for a little dying girl. You don't need to forward it to anyone, there ain't no good or bad luck involved, or any of that type shit. Just a plea to do all you can to try to make life a little bit more enjoyable for one person. Any person at all. Just try to be nice to somebody. You'll be surprised at how much it pays off.

Jeff Wall

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