I missed out on that whole chapter about 'not talking to strangers'. Don't worry, I've watched enough episodes of Law & Order not to be foolish, but I really enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories.
This is especially true if (insert stranger's name here) lives somewhere far away or leads a life that isn't like mine at all, giving me a little window to peek out of my oft too comfortable world. Sometimes these conversations take unexpected turns, like when I met Massachusetts-based filmmaker, Linda, in a Las Vegas Starbucks and over the next 6 months we orchestrated (with lots of help) a fundraiser that raised $85,000 for cancer research. Or when I picked up the phone and called a Vancouver photographer whose work I admired, and over the next five years she became one of my closest friends despite the 3,000 miles between us.
My buddies Jill and Kelly are like this as well, and when we were in L.A. last January (a trip that was also the result of the fundraiser) we were a walking talking interview machine. I think it's partly a southern thing that can make people really uncomfortable, or totally open them up which is way more fun. Either way it made the trip what it was, though we could have lived without the conspiracy theorist at the pool. He was so freaky.
So in our very happenin' hotel lobby one night, we started chatting with a kind stranger about the difficulty of texting on an iPhone, which eventually brought us into the world of Chad Wolf and his soon-to-be-famous band Carolina Liar. About three hours and many twists and turns later we were at a party and asked Chad to sing us something from his work-in-progress. He kindly obliged (though Damien Rice would not... I think we scared the lad) with his writing partner Tobias on the guitar. We were in awe. We kept looking at eachother going, "Wow, he is really, reeeeeallly good!". Loved the songs, loved his voice, and to top it off he was just a really nice guy. When we told him about the fundraiser and how we ended up in L.A., he responded "Man, that is awesome. You guys are helping save people's lives, I am just making music." Do you love him or do you love him? We said we'd keep an eye (ear?) out for Carolina Liar down the road and wished them well.
Fast forward several months and their songs have been playing on "The Hills" for three weeks in a row, their video for "I'm Not Over" even playing at the end. While I personally exceed the legal age limit for watching the show, I can totally grasp the greatness of that coup. It has been fun to watch, from afar, success come to someone insanely talented, but also seemingly humble and grateful. From playing coffee houses to signing with Atlantic Records, then landing on a cult hit like "The Hills?". Odds aren't high. They are on a radio tour now and even blew through Richmond last week. Hopefully they'll be back to play soon.
Their album drops on June 3, but two of their songs are available on iTunes. Seriously, beat the rush, download now. I'll be saying "I knew them when" (even though I don't really) before too long.
Note: I did not take that photo, but couldn't find who to credit. I guess Atlantic Records? Please don't sue me...