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Day 472: An Evening With Thomas Dolby

Thomas Dolby & Me

“May you live in interesting times,” cursed the old man. “It’s much better than boredom,” I replied and appeared in this life. Do you know who that is standing next to me upstairs at the House of Blues? It’s Thomas Morgan “Dolby” Robertson, a.k.a. Thomas Dolby. Please hold on while I turn away from the monitor and squeal like a little schoolgirl. *squeeeeeee* There. Andrea, only you can dig my vibe right now.

rcs informed me (quite nonchalantly) that Thomas Dolby would perform in New Orleans on December 11th as part of his latest tour, most remarkably named “An Evening With BT & Thomas Dolby.” Once my primal scream emanated through the airwaves and could be heard all the way in Dominica, I called the House of Blues around 20 times to reserve tickets. No human available and none to return messages – boo! Adding more evidence to my Elasticity Of Time theory, 2006 has zoomed past and, suddenly, December 11th was here and no tickets to see one of my six most favorite musicians (Warren Zevon, Jeff Buckley and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are dead, Neil Finn I’ve already seen and Danny Elfman isn’t performing in NO any time soon, is he?)

Fortunately, G stepped in and procured us a couple of tickets at the last minute and away we went. The show started with a (very repetitive but brilliant) slideshow of local artists who post to deviantArt, the largest art community in the world and one that is currently touring with BT and Dolby. A number of the submissions reminded me of art I made for George Cramer’s class when working on my second MS. Note to self: Join this community to resharpen 3D computer graphics skills. After an hour’s wait during which I got to know the three other Dolby fans in the audience, the master of synthesizers himself appeared on stage in his signature “Sole Inhabitant” trenchcoat and launched into Leipzig. What an ethereal way to start an evening.

Enjoying a super-excited atomic state (*buzzz-hum-bzz-zaappp*), I didn’t do more than watch and listen, and take pictures. The best way to experience anything is without distraction, to let it all in and not to allow members of the audience, cellphones and notebooks get in the way. This is why I didn’t take notes and cannot recollect the exact order in which Dolby played a pretty long repertoire of his music. In fact, I don’t recall the time passing at all. The evening wasn’t slow, it wasn’t fast, it just was. Good music can do that to you. But, just so you know, he performed Leipzig, Windpower, I Live In A Suitcase, One Of Our Submarines, a new song (if you were at the show, please tell me its name), The Flat Earth, Europa & The Pirate Twins, Hyperactive! and ended the session with She Blinded Me With Science. Let me know if I missed a song or two.

My Best Thomas Dolby Shot Of The Evening Airhead

In the middle of the set, he took of his trenchcoat, lowered his keyboard, sat down and played, bless his heart, Budapest By Blimp. I’d only asked for it around twenty times. A different type of synthesizer (probably a Moog) was introduced for the first time in the show to substitute for the Hungarian aria as originally sung by Csilla Kecskesi. Through the whole song, I stood at the far-left foot of the stage, right next to the speakers, taking it all in. At the end came my favorite lyrics:

Here’s a map and a diagram,
a shrivelled page,
Ripped from the book of history.
See the priceless antiquity frozen in time,
Built on the ashes of the Jews.
And for your curiosity, beauty sublime,
Signed in the blood of Zulus.
Not really a goosestep, more a limp,
Budapest by blimp.

Dolby talked with the audience before almost each song, with anecdotes on the song’s inspiration or remarks on the last times he was in New Orleans. Before the show began, I ran into my friend, Tom, who gave me two passes for a Meet & Greet with BT & Thomas Dolby. (Thanks, Tom, you’re the best!) Mid-show, G and I went upstairs and that’s when I got to meet, talk with and kiss the cheek of Thomas Dolby. *sigh*

BT walked out first and quietly said, “Hey.” Comfortably lounging in a reverie, I looked at him and said, “Hi, BT.” Then, I snapped out of it, saying out loud, “Hey, wait a second, that’s BT!” While a dozen or so fans mobbed BT, I sat back and waited for Dolby. He walked out of the green room as quietly as BT did, in a Venus Hum tshirt (incidentally, I’d discovered Venus Hum only earlier that day on radio.blog.club) and right up to me. Standing up, I shook his hand as the first (stupid) words (ditsy) I (flakey) said (moronic) were, “I’m dead, aren’t I?”

“No, you’re not,” came the reply, after which I handed Dolby my tickets to sign. We chatted about WordPress, with which he powers his blog, and I very quickly introduced him to the concept of New Orleans bloggers. I thanked him profusely for playing Budapest By Blimp and he apologized for not performing I Love You, Goodbye (a great tune based on southern Louisiana featuring Michael Doucet of Beausoleil). He’d forgotten that he was to be in New Orleans, and hadn’t prepared. Next time, he promised. After this, G and I had our pictures taken with him and prepared to leave. As we were walking away, G asked, “Aren’t you going to give him a kiss?” So, I ran back and gave Dolby a big old smooch on his cheek and thanked him again, at which he mildly blushed and smiled before returning to his conversation with another member of the audience. God, the man is so shy!

The evening ended across the street at Attiki, where Hope played Jeff Buckley’s Mystery White Boy and turned up the volume just for me. While I paid the bill, Hope thanked us, looked at me and said, “We had a musical moment there, didn’t we?” Yes we did, my dear, we did. What is life without love and water? What is living without music? We live in interesting times.

11 comments… add one
  • oyster December 13, 2006, 12:48 PM

    Very nice! You are soooo lucky! And I love your reply to the old man’s “curse”.


  • rcs December 13, 2006, 7:41 PM

    Thanks for the detailed write-up (and many pictures) for those of us unable to attend :( Sounds like it was a great show. And yeah, I Love You, Goodbye would have been awesome! I have to say, I’m glad he’s playing so much “old” Dolby – I’ve always enjoyed Golden Age of Wireless and The Flat Earth the most of his (admittedly brief) catalog.

  • ashley December 13, 2006, 7:55 PM

    Congrats…now you don’t have to be so jealous of that pic of me and WZ.

  • Maitri December 13, 2006, 8:23 PM

    Nuh-uh, Ashley, I still want him resurrected for my photo op.

  • Adrastos December 14, 2006, 12:10 AM

    I didn’t know you were a Neil Finn fan. Can’t say I like his solo stuff too much. Btw, I have an alternate (and better) version of the last Finn Bros album if you’re interested.

  • andrea December 14, 2006, 12:15 AM

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I had to miss the show in Dallas because I had rehearsal…. I havent even read the entry yet… just saw the pic and BURNED WITH JEALOUSY. Ok. going to read entry now.


    Venus Hum shirt too. He rocks my world. Windpower and the Flat Earth are two of my three favorites of his, the third being Airwaves … I think it was in my best interest to practice … the gig went really well … but OMG THOMAS DOLBY … Lucky lucky you. Maybe next time I can go see it. Or sing in Hindi on any new album he puts out :D

  • Scott December 14, 2006, 7:26 PM

    Hi Maitri! I was in the front row at the show standing just a couple of people to your right. I’m quite envious that you got to meet Mr. Dolby himself! The new song he played was “Your Karma Hit My Dogma!”

    What other groups do you like?

    Take care,
    Scott C.
    (major Dolby fanatic)

  • alexis December 31, 2006, 9:33 AM

    Fresh from NPR. They must read your blog.

  • Teresa Garziano January 18, 2007, 5:40 PM

    Ohmymymy. I am so excited for you! I know it has been over a month, but I can’t get over the fact that I missed him in N’awlins…just an hour away and I had a final to take. Anyway, if you have any idea when he will be playing in NO again, please post. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Melody (BlueSilver Stars) January 25, 2007, 8:18 PM


    You are one lucky gal!

    You may have noticed I commented on one of your pictures on Flickr… you seem like an interesting person…

  • Mary Beth G. December 5, 2007, 11:21 AM

    Is Thomas Dolby still alive?

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