One Degree of Kevin Bacon at the Birchmere
When Rebecca Loebe told me that she had scored us a gig at the Birchmere, I was thrilled. She and I were headed out on tour together in the fall of 2009. We had 35 shows in 33 days. Thankfully, we enjoy each other’s company very much and have the same desires: sushi, an occasional jog, an occasional whiskey, and lots of shows with which to maximize our time on tour.
I was thrilled to get to play at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. I had heard from folksingers higher up the food chain that it’s a great room run by outstanding people. Opened in 1966 and set up like a dinner theater, The Birchmere boasts a 500-seat house. Luminaries from a wide range of genres have played there – people like Dave Matthews, Joan Armatrading, War, Punch Brothers, and the list just goes on. When Rebecca told me that we would be opening for the Bacon Brothers for two nights in a row, I was ecstatic. Really, it seems like a service to all of our friends that we would both become only “one degree of Kevin Bacon.”
The night of the first show, we drove down the back driveway to the Birchmere and were greeted by Michael Jaworek, the exceptionally friendly vice president. This is a guy who was kind enough to book two fairly green folksingers to open for the guy from Footloose. Taking a chance on an unknown performer is a lost art in our business. To get a gig this size without the endorsement of a larger institution, such as a record label, is somewhat unlikely. It’s a testament to Michael that he was willing to support us.
They fed us well, provided us with impeccable sound and ran an incredibly professional outfit. The stage is three-quarters of the way surrounded by seating, which means you are constantly re-directing your attention as a performer. They have a generously sized lobby where glass cases house your merchandise, making it seem like you are running a legit business, selling plastic discs encased in cardboard.
Of course, it was also a pleasure taking in two nights of the Bacon Brothers, where Kevin’s brother Michael is the real star. At the end of the second night, Rebecca and I both hugged Kevin Bacon and we haven’t bathed since.