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Dave Matthews Does Davidson 

Dave Childers sticks to the 'hood

A group of Davidson students and administrators recently went all out to nab an acoustic tour featuring Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, and the school was one of only about a dozen nationwide to be selected, from a pool of hundreds. The University's Belk Arena, however, doesn't hold that many people, especially for concerts. If you've ever seen Dave Matthews sell out Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, you know Dave is something like the Jerry Garcia of the Eddie Bauer set. As such, admission to said show became one of the hottest tickets this town has seen in quite some time. As such, I decided to see if I could get a pair for free.Last Tuesday, I got a call. My tickets had been approved, and all I had to do was meet up with some other media types and be ushered in to a special press section where we could also take pictures. One small caveat, however: we were only allowed to take pictures during the first minute of the first three songs, and flash photography was inexplicably banned (mind you, every other non-press person there brought a flash camera, unless the maintenance crew was doing some spot-welding during the show). Not 30 seconds into the first song, some wiseass behind me asked if we were going to stand there all night. I told him that I hadn't planned on it, but that I appreciated the offer. Soon, however, the press section began to morph into what it was originally intended for: a spot for folks in wheelchairs. One man wheeled in, and we all huddled closer together -- a little cramped, but not bad. Soon, a second wheelchair-bound person arrived, and the yellow-shirted folks that show you to your seats began clearing the way. "We got a wheelchair person here" one young Seating Engineer screamed in a kewpie voice. "Move aside!" Which, of course, we did, placing us even further in the way of Mr. Obstructed View. At one point, a lady with one of the wheelchair persons asked a guy beside me who was playing. Later, she mentioned to a friend via cellphone that she was seeing Matthews. "She told me I'm so lucky," the woman said to us as she hung up. No you're not. You're rich.

Finally, I was able to nab a couple of seats, and sat down to enjoy the show. Matthews kept returning to a tall, opaque glass he had on stage (along with, strangely enough, a talking Jerry Garcia Doll), which made me wonder, as Davidson is a dry venue as far as concerts go. Matthews was evidently working through some kind of sickness, as he kept coughing -- often theatrically -- throughout the performance. He began a concert-long diatribe about falling off a horse, which he promised to finish when he became less paranoid. The normally quiet Matthews, at points, couldn't be shut up, which made me wonder. Paranoia? Run-on stories? Acoustic jam music? Mr. Wiseass behind me might have summed up my conclusion a few seconds later, when he pulled out his cellphone to call his buddies back in the dorm: "Dude, he's positively smokin!"

Saturday night, The Neighborhood Theatre hosted a songwriter's showcase, featuring Jeffrey Dean Foster, formerly of the Pinetops, Concord's Avett Brothers, Vaughan Penn, and the David Childers Band. Somewhat surprisingly, the building was well-filled, if sort of segmented by artist. Your Jeffrey Dean Foster fans, of course, got into Jeffrey Dean Foster, and then mostly dug the diesel-fueled stomp of the Avett Brothers. Avett Brothers fans, a younger-skewed crowd, exulted as their faves nearly brought down the house with their performance (once their set ended, most Avett fans left the house). Next up was Vaughan Penn, who must have felt like The Who going on after Skynyrd during the Southern leg of their 70s tour. Nothing against Penn, who signs her CDs "Peace and Love" and dutifully (wo)mans the merchandise booth before and after the show, but solo songwriters, as a rule, don't go over all that well between bands, especially down-n-dirty roots rockers. Last up was David Childers and his, er, band (earlier that night, Childers mentioned he was looking for a name for his band -- new bassist Mark Lynch voted for "David Childers and R.E.M.") The Childers band -- which, interestingly enough, features folks in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s -- proceeded to kick the evening into overdrive, perhaps scaring a few of the folks that had caught him on Charlotte Talks earlier in the week. Former bassist -- and now judge -- Penn Dameron returned to the stage to play some banjo, with Childers introducing him as "The Honorable Penn Dameron." After an epic jam featuring sitar, banjo, and punk-rock style drumming, the songwriter announced that it was time for the last song -- "so we can all get home in time to see Da Ali G Show." People clapped furiously, though many of them had probably not seen the hilarious HBO series starring the white, English hip-hop wannabe. No matter -- as Ali G himself might say, "Much respect given. Res-pect."

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