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On behalf of all of the contributors to the tapes that make up this box set, and on behalf of all of the members of the rust@death on-line community, I present to you this token of our appreciation for your music and what it means to us. We're sure that you will enjoy it.
David Lybrand, a.k.a. RE*AC*TOR
You'd think that it would be easy to arrange to deliver a token of gratitude worked on by so many (about 50 contributors to the Tribute tapes), and representing a group so large (approximately 900 Rusties), to the person it celebrates. Unfortunately this was not to be the case.
I always try to give the official channels a chance first. So, about two weeks before those shows, I dutifully wrote a letter to Lookout Management introducing myself and then explaining how much it means to the members of Rust to present the tributes to Neil. I asserted that I'd be totally flexible about making the arrangements, as long as they were on one of the two dates of those two shows. Since there had been recent overtures toward The Rust List by Lookout, I thought this would be a routine matter.
But a week passed with no response. I contemplated calling them to discuss the matter, since time was running out. After consulting with Lookout Mama , I decided to continue following "protocol" and leave the phone contact to her. Over the next few days, during a couple of Sheila's routine calls to Lookout, the matter of the delivery of the box set was among the topics discussed. Immediately I started getting bad vibrations.
The first response I got back from these calls included feedback along the lines of "get an agent." Something was definitely getting distorted in the communications links! It appeared that Lookout was treating the request as if it were for somebody looking for recording contracts or something. Further back and forth between the parties at least improved the feedback to "we'll see". But I was now only a few days away from my departure for New York.
On the day I left for New York, I received word from Lookout Mama that Lookout had not returned her calls for two days.
I had some Rusties check the nearby radio stations to see if any of them had promotional access and would be willing to share it on this worthy cause. Time was too short to follow all the paths required, and the ones we DID follow led nowhere. Strike two.
The last advice I received before leaving for New York was to go to the venues and try to talk the security folks into getting the Tour Manager to talk to us. The more I rolled that thought around in my mind, the less I could see those folks taking me seriously. Maybe it would have worked, but I didn't have enough confidence in my bullshit-ability (especially in talking to security-types) to follow-though as required. Whoooosh...strike three.
At the RustFest I asked folks who'd been to a lot of the earlier shows for any advice they could give on ways to deliver the box set. The common denominator of the advice was Zeke Young. Over the previous shows, several Rusties had made contact with Zeke at various venues, and he seemed to enjoy talking with the Rusties who'd approached him. At Raleigh, Lookout Mama had given Zeke his own MORE BARN! shirt.
I was somewhat hesitant to follow this path. After all, this is a member of Neil's family we're talking about here. But Zeke is a grown man, and if he didn't want us bugging him, I had no doubt he'd let us know. And I had no intention of badgering him or harrasing him, just to let him know what the situation was with the box set and let him decide for himself if he wanted to be involved. This seemed to be the most likely path to success.
I waited around for a while without success, and then proceded down to my seats to watch Jewel. VERY impressive... After her set, there was Zeke up there helping get the stage ready for Neil. SPAC has a "VIP area" down front, so I couldn't even think about going down to the stage with my bag. And besides, Zeke was really busy. No way was I going to bug him when he was doing his job.
After the most awe-inspiring show I'd ever been to (first Neil show for me down close to the stage), there was Zeke up there again tearing down and packing up the equipment. I just couldn't bring myself to bother him. Eventually I quit hanging out inside and went back out to the Rustie meeting-place, bag in hand. Found out that Zeke HAD been at the soundboard while Jewel was playing, and maybe Pegi too! Oh well, I still had Jones Beach the next night...
After a while, pretty close to showtime for the opening act, a few of us walked past the "comfort station" building by the water (outside the venue). Who should I see loping along toward us but that familiar lanky blond haired member of the crew! And me without my bag! The car wasn't far away, so I hauled ass back to it, grabbed the bag out of the trunk and sprinted back -- just as Zeke was passing by the perpendicular path I was arriving on (about 20 yards ahead of me).
Despite my excitement, I tried to keep my head. Jeez, I thought, if I go running up to him he's going to freak. I did NOT want to give the impression of being a stalker or anything (though I suppose in the strictest sense, this project had turned me into something of a "tracker"). As Zeke passed, his head turned my way. So I abruptly put on the brakes and returned to "walking speed". He passed by while I was still over 10 yards away, and he disappeared from site as his path took him past the concessions building.
Still breathing hard from the run, I rounded the corner of that building and Zeke was up ahead cutting around the other side of it. Huh? Where's he going? I doubled back around the building the other way to try to cross paths with him on the other side, but he never came out over there. I have no idea where he went. My paranoia had me thinking that he saw me running and was trying to avoid me. Shit!, I thought, now I'll never get near him -- he'll turn and run if he sees me again...
I'd struck out once more. Several other Rusties who had also seen Zeke go by "shared my pain." :-)
After Jewel's set, more of the Rusties arrived and we stood in the aisle talking (despite more security nazi admonitions about us being fire hazards). When bh wandered by (on her way to her FIFTH ROW DEAD CENTER seats :-) she saw I was still holding the bag. She said "Why do you have that when Zeke's right there?" I turned and looked, and wooooh, she wasn't bullshitting me! Zeke had snuck past us into the booth, and he was all alone in there.
Well, this was the moment of truth. There probably wouldn't be a better chance. But my paranoia struck... Maybe he'd recognize me from outside. Maybe that security person over there would hustle me away if I tried to enter. Maybe I'd come off sounding like a fool, since at the moment I wasn't psyched-up for it. I remembered how John Meckley hadn't hit it off with Zeke as well as Linda Meckley had. I froze for a few moments. Then I did what must be done: I passed the buck!
Figuring that the "female touch" might work wonders, I asked bh to do the deed. She hesitated, but then took the bag and marched over to the entrance to the booth, and then walked right in and up to Zeke. Outside/above the booth, a half-dozen Rusties leaned on the rail watching to see what would happen. We all saw bh shake Zeke's hand and then hand him the plastic bag. As bh talked to Zeke, he held up the bag trying to figure out what was in it. He seemed curious, but also apprehensive about this stranger - until he saw the shirt.
"Hey, I've got one of those," Zeke said, pointing at bh's MORE BARN! shirt.
"I know," bh answered. And she told him more about the tribute tapes that were in box set, in the bag.
"He won't listen to them," he said.
"But you will, won't you?"
"Yeah." he said.
And two or three sentences later, the deed was done -- and bh left the booth and rejoined us, to tell us about the exchange above. Not much later, Zeke disappeared again, hopefully taking the box set with him. And then Neil came on and played the exact song I had requested (Cowgirl) and lots of other great stuff. I was bummed-no-more...
My final thought is that Lookout Management blew a great opportunity to engender good will among Neil's most stalwart fans. I know that my own disappointment at their handling of this is manifest. Sure, the RustRows are great. But it's easy to BUY "affection". Now they need to show us that they RESPECT us...
There are two different Electric versions of TNatDD on the Rust Tributes -- most spectacularly, Kato's version on Sleeps With rust@death.... Just a coincidence?