Friday, June 16, 2006

Thank God for JumboTrons

College towns are great for catching new bands. Sometimes they're good, but most times they're, well ... pretty awful.

There were several groups in college that my friends and I would always make an effort to see. But there was one band in particular that no matter how many tests we had the next day, how sick we were or how exhausted the week had made us, we always made it out to hear.

The duo, Soul Miner's Daughter, was simply spectacular. Jennifer Nettles and Corey Jones had something the other bands didn't. They were engaging, their sound was unique, their lyrics were real and Jennifer's voice was strong and packed with emotion. Some of my best college memories are of my group of friends dancing and singing along to "That Man They Call DIablo" and "Shoulders of Giants."

Anyhow, times change and bands break up. Soul Miner's Daughter split the year before I graduated. Jennifer went solo and Corey - well, I think he pretty much fell off the face of the earth. Soon, Jennifer was back playing my college town - same songs, different vibe - but it was a good one.

Eventually, I graduated and left town. For a while I dated a guy who was a manager of a major music store's drum department. He happened to know Jennifer and her band members. I had the opportunity to attend a private CD release party in 2002, where I got to sit down and talk with Jennifer for a while. She had big plans of touring the country and playing for new audiences - she didn't say it, but anyone could see it in her eyes that she was in this for the long haul. Her goal was to make it big - and now she has.

Sugarland, a country group, played Chattanooga last night as part of Chattanooga's annual Riverbend Festival. I made it down to the river in time to catch the last half of their performance - and there Jennifer was on stage having the time of her life. I wouldn't know it just by looking at the stage because I was so far away, but thank God for JumboTrons!!

Those of us who've had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer and getting to know her through the transition of her music career and interaction with her fans know that she deserves every last fan she has - and judging by how many people were singing along to her songs last night, there are many, many of us now. And for those of us who have been one of about 20 folks in the audience back in the day when she wasn't quite as famous, it's especially exciting.

It sucks that each time I go to her concerts I seem to get further and futher from the stage. But that's cool. I had my time up close, and I'm just happy others are getting that same chance.