It probably comes as no shock to most of you that I really like Glen Hansard. “Like” is definitely an understatement. As luck would have it, he was scheduled to play a concert in Raleigh, North Carolina roughly around the time we thought we might be passing through. Obviously, we decided to get tickets and finagle things around so that we’d be sure to make it!
If you have no idea who Glen Hansard is, I’m sure you’re pretty confused right now. Let me enlighten you! He started out as a busker (street musician) in Dublin before starting the Frames in the early 90s. He became better known in the United States after starring in the film Once with Marketa Irglova, with whom he formed the Swell Season. Within the last year, he has come out with a solo album, which is what he was touring with when we saw him in Raleigh.
Here is a video of Glen Hansard performing fellow Irishman Van Morrison’s song, “Astral Weeks” for the French online magazine, Le Cargo:
The show was amazing (as his shows always are… I’ve been to several). I’m always impressed by how much energy he has and how much power his voice has. The funny thing about this concert was how many middle-aged women were there. When I saw the Frames play in Dublin and Belfast on their 20th anniversary tour, the crowd was split about evenly between men and women, though Kevin and I were probably on the younger side of the crowd. This was most definitely not the case in Raleigh. It was a pretty funny sight seeing dozens of soccer moms rush the stage with their fancy cameras, giggling and fawning over him.
Just around the corner from the concert, there was a gun show… that we did not attend. I was very relieved that we didn’t see anyone packing (their newly acquired) heat. We didn’t stick around Raleigh for too long after the concert. After one night there, we headed up North to Charlottesville, Virginia, our northernmost, Southern destination. While in Charlottesville, we enjoyed some good old Southern porch sittin’ with our friend Sophie, and some epic thunderstorms.
Oh, and a woman tried for roughly 30 minutes to save us and accept Jesus Christ as our savior… even after choking on a bug that flew into her mouth. That woman was dedicated! While she was talking at us, all I could think about was the Chuck Klosterman essay, “How to disappear completely and never be found,” from his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. In this essay, he writes:
There is something undeniably attractive about becoming a born-again Christian… There are no other subjects, really; nothing else– besides being born again– is even marginally important. Every moment of your life is a search-and-rescue mission: Everyone you meet needs to be converted and anyone you don’t convert is going to hell, and you will be partially at fault for their scorched corpse. Life would become unspeakably important, and every conversation you’d have for the rest of your life (or until the Rapture–whichever comes first) would really, really, really, matter. If you ask me, that’s pretty glamorous.
This woman was definitely not discouraged by my blank stare or the extra protein from the bug she choked on…
After Charlottesville, we headed up to DC to see Kevin’s good friend Will, who he hadn’t seen in 5 years!??! I have really enjoyed meeting each of Kevin’s friends from high school. They are all such kind, good people. Will’s roommates and his girlfriend Liz were all awesome and great to hang out with. We arrived kind of late at night, so Will’s roommates weren’t exactly aware of our presence until they came downstairs early the next morning and found a girl sleeping soundly on their pullout couch, and a hairy man in their kitchen. It was very fortunate that they assumed that we must be friends of someone in the house and not raving loonies.
We had a great time walking around the city. I’m pretty sure we walked at least 10 miles every day we were there. I am very glad that I invested in good shoes. I have most likely clocked hundreds of miles in these babies already. DC was a much more accessible city than I expected it to be. Usually I am somewhat confused and overwhelmed when I enter a city that I am unfamiliar with, but I did not experience these feelings in DC (unless you include that one time we made a wrong turn and unexpectedly ended up back on the highway in Virginia. That was confusing). DC is definitely in my top 3 cities that we have visited so far in our travels… the other 2 are top secret!
Some cool things we saw at the museum: