April 3, 2009

Missy Higgins and Harlan Coban

I don't go to concerts often for the same reason I don't ski much: It's usually too expensive, and I'm usually too busy. Tonight, though, we took time to go to a unique show at the Lark Theater offered by Corte Madera's Book Passage.

Recently, my wife heard a song while she was waiting overlong at the Verizon store in Walnut Creek. She wrote down some of the lyrics and later googled them to find out the song was by Missy Higgins, an Australian singer we'd not heard of before. It wasn't long before we had bought most of her recent album on iTunes. The next week, we saw the advert for tonight's show in the Book Passage newsletter. Neither of us had ever heard of Harlan Coban, the author appearing with Missy at the theater. He's a crime fiction author, and we don't really hit that genre. We weren't sure what a crime fiction author would be doing at a concert, but my wife liked the music enough to tolerate his presence, and I like my wife enough to go to a concert with her.

We got into downtown Larkspur, a quaint little downtown just a mile off highway 101 but you'd never know it. One parking spot and one taco-to-go later, we arrived at the front of the theater, collected our tickets and not-yet-signed books, and headed inside. They served wine! Perfect. The theater is small, seating 246 but feeling more like a large parlor. It's wide, and even the seats near the back seemed close to the stage. We sat about eight rows back. (Later, as we exited, we realized there were several empty seats. General admission at the door was just $15, an amazing price for such a cool event.)

What we got was one of the coolest concerts/author speakings that I've ever been to. Harlan kicked it off with an introduction and a description of how the two connected to put this together. Apparently, Harlan had been inspired by a line from one of Missy's songs, so as a sort of tribute he named her and the song in one of his books. Later, Missy's mum was reading the book on a beach and discovered her daughter referenced. Thus a friendship and collaboration was born.

The night was a combination of about a dozen songs and a dialog about writing and the writing process. They even stopped to answer audience questions at one point. And it was clear that the whole thing was ad-lib because at two different points, Missy played a song shouted out by the audience. The first time, she seemed at odds about what song to play, and someone up front asked for Sugar Cane. She said, "Yeah? OK," and played it.

So, anyway, it was awesome. Harlan is very cool, seriously funny, and clearly a talented speaker. At some point I'll read his book and decide if he's a talented writer. Missy is a genuine treat to see live. Cute, sincere, terribly talented. Go buy her albums.

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fairyhedgehog said...

I am seriously envious. I've read some Harlan Coban books and I don't think he is a great author by any means, but I always look out for any of his that I haven't read and that has to say something.

Missy Higgins isn't my usual taste in music but I would happily go and see her live.

You can't persuade them to pop over to Epsom for a concert, can you? We have a nice little theatre here too.

McKoala said...

That sounds like a very cool combination. Missy Higgins is biiig over here. I like the mixture of genres. And the wine could only make things even better.

Aniket Thakkar said...

@ "but my wife liked the music enough to tolerate his presence, and I like my wife enough to go to a concert with her."
:-) :-)

Only you can come up with such a narration! :P

Am off to listen to Missy Higgins now. Have to pass on Coban for the time as I already have a huge BOOKS-TO-READ list. :)

Robin B. said...

Love the idea of actually following through with hearing a song and then doing something about it! I don't know how many times I've heard something I enjoyed and let finding out about it slip through my fingers.

Sounds like a wonderful night!

Jane D. said...

Nice! I became a fan last summer of hers when friend played it for me. We played it on a road trip all the way back from California. Love the song "Scar".

Merry Monteleone said...

I've never heard her before, so I'll be back to give your little playlist a good listen.

It sounds like an awesome event, though - glad you guys had such a good time.

Sarah Laurenson said...

It's great to discover new (to you) talent, isn't it? I love doing something a little different, trying something new and finding a gold mine. Glad you enjoyed it!

May Vanderbilt said...

I almost NEVER make time for concerts but when I do I feel so restored, creatively speaking, and I always swear I'm going to start going to more shows.

But then I don't, and I get worn down again, and it's this vicious cycle.

Thanks for the keen reminder.

PJD said...

I think I forgot to mention that not only did the author sign books afterwards, but Missy Higgins hung around the lobby signing CDs and graciously posing for photos with fans. The fans were not shy about taking up her time chatting. I have no idea what they chatted about. Mostly I think she listened while they chatted about themselves. Coben (which I think I've been spelling wrong the whole time) talked a lot while he signed books. But at least he was funny and engaging. I have to say I felt a bit sorry for Missy because she looked tired and at times a bit worn down by the onslaught of chatters.

FH, if I had known about Epsom before the concert, I'd have suggested it to them there. I have a feeling they won't pay much attention to me now if I tried to contact them.

McK, is there something about being down under? She seemed rather petite here, so I'm surprised she's big there. I should also have said that the theater is a restored relic from the 1930s, operated by a nonprofit. So: meeting a novelist, hearing a fabulous concert, drinking wine, and supporting a charity all at once.

Aniket, thanks again for the kind words, and I certainly hope I'm the only one who would go to a concert with my wife.

Robin, we had a reverse experience once too--I was in a store and heard a group I thought I recognized. Turns out the clerk was playing his own bootlegged version of unreleased songs from this band my wife adores. He actually let us borrow and copy the CD. (Yes, we actually have purchased all of that group's released songs, so I have minimal guilt.)

Jane D--nice to see you! I didn't know you knew about Missy Higgins. Right on. How goes the search for gainful employment? Or are you holding out in the hopes that I'll turn into a bigamist?

Merry, thanks for stopping by. It was an awesome event. I'd guess much better than the big-venue real concert she did a few nights before.

Sarah, we also discovered the little downtown of Larkspur, which is really cute and tucked away. New discoveries are very cool.

May, good to see you around! I know what you mean about vowing to see more concerts and then failing at it. I have some friends who are really into music, and I'm always jealous at the number of concerts they go to. I'd blame it on having kids, but really it's just that we're totally lame about going out to hip places.