CrackerHouse of Blues
November 30, 1998
The rock band with a country influence. And, before you even go there with your mind, no, Cracker is not alt-country. Alt-country is an idea that is dead and annoying. It exceeded its hip potential. Cracker's just a rock band. Or call it folk music. But, then that brings us in a circle back to lead singer/guitarist David Lowery's ushering in of the new guard: "What the world needs now is another folk singer/Like I need a hole in my head."
Anyways, let's move onward--to the story!
Cracker was touring in support of their fourth album, "Gentlemen's Blues," in 1999. I was writing entertainment articles for The Reveille, LSU's student newspaper, and the closest Cracker was coming to Baton Rouge was New Orleans. Since enough people made the daily or weekend Baton Rouge-to-New Orleans commute and bands often bypassed Baton Rouge for New Orleans, it made sense for me to cover N.O. shows.
I set up a phone interview with lead guitarist Johnny Hickman. He said he would call, and he never did. Men. So, to make everything right with the universe, Hickman offered to do an in-person interview at the House of Blues when he was notified that he left me hangin'.
Who was I to deny him? This was gonna be my first high-profile in-person interview, and I was kinda nervous. Walking around the backstage area at the House of Blues, I was very out of my element. It must have showed, because more than once Hickman mentioned his son(who must have been around my age) and how astute my questions were. At the time, I was flattered by his compliement, but I look back on it and think that he probably just said that to loosen me up. And maybe because he knew how to be sympathetic to the neuroses of my age. Seriously, if you've already decided that music writing is what you want to do for the rest of your life and you're meeting two rock stars for your first big interview backstage in a posh little room at the House of Blues as soundhceck rings in the distance? Yeah, I was jumpy.
Lowery joined Hickman in the room, and we did the interview. Considering that they had already written enough good songs to fit on a greatest hits CD, they didn't need to be talking to me. But, they listened with intent and were very cordial. If they were playing the game, they were good at it.
Someone at the House of Blues had my back with a backstage pass. I thought I was so cool, mingling not so well with the crowd after the show. Lowery was talking with a very beautiful woman, and funny me, I rolled up and proceeded to look at him very intently and tell him good I thought the concert was. Understandably, he looked at me like, "Cool, dude, but can't you see I'm talking up this very beautiful woman?" So, I moved on. I saw the bassist and drummer sitting in the corner alone, and I wondered if this was how it was every concert for them. People surround Lowery and Hickman, and they're left alone. I can't believe I didn't walk over to them and talk. I bet they would have been more than happy to. But, and this is the true sin, I thought that just because I didn't have anything complimentary to say to them, or that they weren't all that important in the scheme of things, I left them alone. If I haven't already, I'm waiting for the day I get reprimanded karmaically for that one. So, next I sort of weaseled my way into Hickman's group of friends. I was immediately welcomed, and Hickman told everyone how well I had done in the interview earlier. I held my own, and we had a pretty decent conversation.
I left the House of Blues with a nice taste in my mouth for the upswings of music writing and rock stars missing their appointments.