Or, why I love Facebook.

Tonight I went to see The Real Jane Martin, a Chicago-based band whose frontman Allen Rein is a friend of mine from college. They were playing at St. Elmo’s, a little coffee shop where I sometimes go during the day with laptop in tow to work. I downloaded TRJM’s cd Simple Math when I heard about it from Allen on Facebook a few months ago. I love music and love new music and love the chance to support someone I know doing something they love, so I bought it without even listening first. And it’s great. And now that I’ve heard Allen (and his excellent musical other half, Mark Burns) live I will enjoy the music even more. That’s always what happens.

I used to be a groupie. I used to hear live music ALL THE TIME. I saw Eddie from Ohio (of whom I was a groupie) more times than I can count, mostly at Bad Habits, a divey venue where the only safe thing on the menu was the grilled cheese sandwich. I had bootleg tapes and cds of Eddie from Ohio, and lively debates with friends about which band member we thought would be the best kisser. I was once asked out by someone selling merchandise for the band, and went on one of the worst dates of my life, during which the guy professed that he preferred women with red hair who wear Laura Ashley sundresses. I also saw a lot of EFO shows with a former boyfriend, who was also a groupie, perhaps more intensely than I was. He was also a big fan of live music in general, and that was an era when I went to a lot of shows.

I’ve seen the Indigo Girls many times, with many different groups of friends and once with my husband. I’ve seen HEM several times, all with my husband. HEM was one of the groups that brought us together, since we both thought no one else had ever heard of them when we met. Mostly I’ve gone to rock shows and folk shows. I’ve spent many evenings at the Birchmere (another great music venue with awful food) with all kinds of company.

But most of these musical outings were pre-Zoe. Sure, we have gone out plenty since Zoe was born. We’re not afraid of babysitters and we have two sets of local grandparents and several grown-up childless friends willing to hang out with Zoe. But we are also busy people with a lot of stuff going on, so we have to choose our date nights very carefully. We have gone to concerts, usually planned and tickets purchased months in advance. And it’s always fun. But there’s something different about just going to see a band, at a coffee shop, where someone you know is singing and playing lead guitar.

Tonight I was sitting in a chair a few feet from Allen, wiggling to the music and watching people walk by outside. I encountered another college friend (Allen’s college roommate) who I hadn’t seen in years. I was joined by a new friend whose daughter goes to preschool with Zoe. And I met new friends, a couple whose kids also go to our preschool, the husband of which I was just asked to co-chair a committee with this week. I had just googled him and it turns out he’s friends with Allen.

That’s why I love Facebook. It proves that it really is a small world and you always find someone who has a connection to someone else surprising and you learn something interesting about your friends and acquaintances and random people you end up friending.

But back to the point, it was so enlivening and fun to see a band, be out on my own on a weeknight, not have to rush home to relieve a babysitter (Randy hung out with Zoe tonight and apparently they were making up their own songs and cracking up all night), to socialize and hear music and be a person in the world. It gives me a little more energy, and a song in my step.