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Labor Day Weekend started off with this, my fifteenth TMBG show. My first was just after 9/11 at Town Hall in NYC. That show was special and amazing of course, but was weighed down by the events of the time. I recount that show here (it’s at the bottom). I had wanted to see Them for a while since it had been over two years since my last show. I’m now averaging about a show a year - nice!

My fifteenth was also my second free show, again thanks to the 92.9 FM station on the North Shore here in Eastern Mass. (I’m not above plugging them if they’ve gotten my favorite band so much exposure and let me see them free, twice!). So, kudos to “The River” and may they continue to choose music of quality over music of quantity.

Set on the waterfront, the stage-in-the-round seemed to catch the band a bit off guard early in the set, but they grew into it and rocked everyone equally for sure. John F.’s showmanship was on display as he dealt with a rowdy front-row heckler and sagely avoided politics on the microphone – intent instead on installing and servicing melody, indivisible, with liberty and Curt Ramm’s trumpeting for all (what a bonus!). I also dragged along a friend who liked the band casually, but had never seen Them live. I’d been talking up the show for a few weeks, and playing some of the crucial tunes to know, ad nauseam. When the day finally came to head to Newburyport, we were both as excited as can be.

After the show, my friend and I stood around awhile taking in the scene and letting the excitement filter out of our systems a little. Flans took the stage again to get the show on the road once more, Linnell met with some friends, and Danny Weinkauf talked with some fans. I went over to him too, and I was nearly speechless (but certainly reduced to syllables) when he said he had recognized me from a few shows. To be part of your favorite band’s memory is a very, very special feeling. Back in 2001, I also got a chance to meet the band backstage. I recall being similarly stunned, but at least I got out a few more words this time – key among which were “thank” and “you.” It might be the simplest gesture, but I really honestly want to thank the band every time for giving us all so much. Having your favorite act be so accessible, so fan-friendly, and so positive is more than most people get. On a personal note, when you’re trans, life’s just difficult in so many ways. Throughout my life I’ve always had TMBG to count on for music to lift me up, make me laugh, make me think – or just to give me something familiar to listen to in an hour of need. I’ll be forever grateful for that.

As for my friend? Those first-show feelings are totally contagious; it was so awesome to live vicariously through a friend for a moment like that – and of course she’s hooked!

The show kicked off an amazing end-of-summer weekend for me, and I couldn’t have planned anything more perfect. John F. said at the beginning of the show that we’d get our money’s worth – and we did: it was priceless!