10000 maniacs

An Evening With Cindy Lee Berryhill and 10,000 Maniacs at Crest Theatre

10,000 maniacs at crest

10,000 Maniacs at the Crest Theatre, Sacramento, featuring Mary Ramsey.

When I mentioned to my sister that we were going to see 10,000 Maniacs at Crest Theatre Tuesday night, she asked if we had good seats. I booked that show so long ago I could not remember. Further, to keep from shoving the tickets by accident into a real estate file on the pile on my desk, I had given them to my husband for safekeeping. My sister’s question made me chuckle, though, because as I pointed out, if we didn’t have good seats, we would not be going. I’ve gotten really spoiled over the years with front-row tickets, and if I can’t sit there, I’m not too interested in attending. I don’t like staring at the backs of other people’s heads.

Right downstairs from where 10,000 Maniacs at Crest Theatre were performing is a restaurant I’ve been to several times, Empress Tavern, but I cannot recall a time when the noise level was so outrageously high that it hurt my ears to be present. We almost always opt for dinner out at Ella Dining Room or Brasserie Capitale, but I was so swamped with work I didn’t have time to take a break to make a dinner reservation far enough in advance, so same-day reservations got us Empress Tavern.

My team members took me there for lunch on my 65th birthday in June, and it wasn’t that noisy. But Tuesday night, unbearable. We reserved a booth, and I crawled into the corner, but the sound bounced off the slanted brick ceiling, right down to the table. Maybe they could install noise-reduction drapes? My voice was raw from screaming when we left.

10,000 Maniacs at Crest

Mary Ramsey joined 10,000 Maniacs in the 1990s and eventually replaced Natalie Merchant.

But it was convenient to just dash up the stairs and into the Crest. To my pleasant surprise, we had managed to buy front row seats, almost center. I haven’t been to the Crest for a few months, so I don’t know if this is a new thing or if they just did it for 10,000 Maniacs, but the stage was roped off. There were our seats, then the velvet ropes, then the stage. I guess they did not want people getting too danged close to the stage, or maybe something happened at some other performance that now wrecks it for the rest of us. I decided to get a glass of wine and wandered back up the aisle to the bar. More lines of people. I saw a woman in black approach the bar from the side and asked for a glass of something. I made a joke about the rest of us standing in line and she didn’t laugh. She grimaced, “I’m the manager.” All righty, then.

I was looking forward to the 10,000 Maniacs, even though Natalie Merchant is no longer with the band. It was 10,000 Maniacs that helped me in the 1990s get through the Sheetrocking and skylight projects at my house near Nokomis Lake in Minneapolis. I was sweating that summer up in the attic working on my house, doing all the work myself. I hauled out my circular saw, tied myself to the close-line pole in the back yard, and cut holes in my roof. All the while blaring 10,000 Maniacs on my CD player. It was motivational music. I thought about those days as I danced at the end of the show.

Even without Natalie Merchant, the woman who replaced her as songwriter and lead singer, Mary Ramsey, well, she’s excellent because she makes her own statement and plays a wicked fiddle. They opened with Candy Everybody Wants, followed by What’s the Matter Here, which always makes me want to cry, and Like the Weather. I studied the band on stage. Women always study the band, don’t they? Some of might even fantasize about which band member we would cavort with if we were single and not too old to cavort. I wonder if that ever goes away?


10,000 maniacs at crest

Cindy Lee Berryhill presently lives in Encinitas and opened for 10,000 Maniacs

Cindy Lee Berryhill opened for 10,000 Maniacs at the Crest. I watched a few of her videos online, appreciated her new song: I Like Cats, You Like Dogs. Read about her, as I was remotely aware of her late husband, rock writer Paul Williams, who was ill for a long time before he died, but was unfamiliar with her. I really enjoyed her set. She is reinventing herself or maybe just picking up where she left off almost 10 years ago. I know a thing or two about starting over in life. I mentioned that to Cindy in person when we got to meet. She asked if I had lost a spouse, too. Yes, at least 4 of them, and one is definitely dead. Why don’t people like my jokes? It’s still funny even when it’s true, to me. She didn’t know how to take that. But I bought her CD and handed her what I thought was a $20, which I produced from the back of my wallet without looking.

CanI just give you this and go? I asked, wondering if she had to write a receipt or charge sales tax or something. “Well, this is a ten-dollar bill,” she pointed out, waving the money. “Oh my goodness, it worked the last time I did that,” I laughed. I apologized and handed her a $20. You know, when we were at the movies last Sunday buying popcorn and snacks, the clerk had said, “That will be $15.75.” I handed the clerk a $20 and smiled, “Just give me back $5.” He was about to, and then he looked puzzled. You know that almost worked. I didn’t even realized I had done it. You should try it sometime. Hand a guy a $100 bill for a $90 purchase and say, “Just give me back a $20.”

I don’t think people pay attention. People do what you tell them to do. Especially when you say it with conviction.

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