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Think Locally, Act Yokel-y 

Of pleasures both Complex and simple

A lot of people -- including a few folks in some "veteran" local bands -- probably just thought Andrew Webster was an idiot. What kind of person decides to devote his own time and money to create a box set of local music? Even then, who prints 2,000 of the damn things? Even at $15 a pop, is anyone going to care? Better yet, do we even have eight CDs worth of local bands?

The answer, I'm happy to say, is yes. Friday evening, Webster held a release party for his "Complex Radio" local music compilation at The Neighborhood Theatre and The Evening Muse. As I pulled into NoDa, I could feel my pride rise along with my blood pressure -- there was nowhere to park! Deciding I couldn't get too mad at people coming out to see a whole night of local music, I ended up parking in front of a crumbling would-be crack house -- er, quaint little fixer-upper bungalow -- and began the long trek.

When I arrived at the Neighborhood Theatre, The Houston Brothers began a short, unannounced set that proceeded to shatter anyone's preconceptions of the band as some sort of moody lounge act. If you've never seen a band head-bang while sitting down, check these guys out next time they're playing around town. After the Houstons came a set by their cohorts in Les Dirt Clods, followed by an acoustic Christmas song by Benji Hughes, who (just barely) strummed an acoustic guitar while singing lines like "Doesn't anybody know/Jesus never played in snow/or kissed ladies/underneath/Mistletoe" and "What would Jesus say/to your pagan holiday/I rebuke you/I rebuke you/turn away." It wasn't necessarily the highlight of the evening -- the attendance was the big story here -- but it personified the low-fi, high talent thrills one can get at a local show if they're willing to spend the time (and a little money).

With that, a thank you, Mr. Andrew Webster -- if you'll pardon the seasonal phrase, you're one wise man.

Last week, I was lucky enough to score a couple of tickets to go see the Carolina Panthers play at Ericsson Stadium. Now, I know what you're thinking. Yes, they were playing the Detroit Lions, who had lost a record 23 straight road games. Yes, it was colder than a County Commissioner's heart. However, it was -- and this is important -- almost a hundred percent free of charge. It's something I like to call Slacker Sports.It's quite easy, really, and anyone can do it if they follow a few easy steps. First, pick a game against a team that either sucks ass or has no star players to speak of. Luckily, the Detroit Lions fit both criteria, and so lots of folks are looking to get rid of their tickets. Secondly, skip all the asphalt barons charging $15 and $20 to park in their glass-strewn lots and park for free in some place like the Bank of America parking lots in Post Gateway Place. Bring along a fiver, and get a couple of hotdogs, a Coke, and an order of fries from Green's Lunch, which is located within spitting distance of the stadium (one soft drink at the stadium will set you back about the same amount of money). You, my friend, are now set. Specifically, you are set up in the cheap seats.

The top of the stadium is not without its charm, however. Folks tend to know a hell of a lot more about the game way up yonder, and they're not afraid to tell you (or the rest of the stadium) about it. They think the wave is for the idiots in the expensive seats, and they're right. They spill beer and sneak cigarettes and hassle guys wearing colors of the other team. In addition, if the game gets boring, they're a hell of a lot more fun to listen to than hearing some jackass in section 114 talk about stock acquisitions. Hell, if Mr. Merger had your expertise, he'd realize he could have parked, seen a pro football game, and had a tasty lunch for just slightly more than his ATM surcharge.

They say that pro sports have priced the average fan out of a ticket. Note, however, that they said nothing about above-average fans. Go Panthers!

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