I met mandolin plucking superstar Jeff Austin for the second time last night, just like I hoped I would. It was before his show with Mountain Standard Time at the Bluebird Theater in Denver, and I went to the Mezcal restaurant across from the venue to have a beer before the concert.
I was sitting at the end of the bar by myself when I saw Mr. Jeff Austin enter the establishment and take a seat a few down from mine, also by himself. I watched him look over a menu for about two minutes, then I walked over to him and said, “Hi. I don’t want to bother you, but I really wanted to say hi.”
“You’re not bothering me,” he said. “I am just going to chow down before I head over to rehearse.”
We did the handshake/name exchange thing, which I was proud of, because the last time I met him I don’t think I even told him my name, I just sang one of his song lyrics in his face, which ironically was, “I don’t care what you say! I’m gonna drink my corn liquor anyway!”
I told Jeff I recently had Mezcal for my first time in Guatemala and was considering ordering some, since we were at a specialty bar.
“I haven’t had a drink in 4 months, X weeks, X days and X hours,” he said. (He knew the exact stats, but I forget most of them.)
“But who’s counting!?” I joked.
“I am!” he said.
“So you’re 100% sober in life?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “I haven’t done hard drugs in two years. I smoked pot once last month. I want to be one of those musicians everyone thinks is wasted, but is actually stone cold sober.”
“Wow, good for you!” I said.
I then asked if I could ask him one question, and he gave me permission to proceed.
“Why did you stop wearing glasses?” I asked.
“I got Lasik,” he said. “It was the best thing I ever did!”
“I figured you got Lasik,” I said, “because you live here in CO, right?”
“Yes, just north of Boulder,” he said.
“I’ve worn contacts for so long,” I said, “and had to stop after moving to CO.”
“Yeah, it’s too dry here, your contacts just burn. That’s why I got Lasik; it’s amazing,” he said.
“That’s what I’ve heard from other people who have had Lasik,” I said. “Maybe I should get it.”
“You should,” he said, “but don’t take the cheap route. Don’t go to one of those places that does a deal, like $200 an eye. Go to a good doctor,” he said.
I laughed and told him not to worry, that I would not pay some sketchy doctor $400 to hold the future of my vision in his or her hands, and then I said I would let him get back to looking over the dinner menu.
I had felt slightly nervous to talk to him, but I remained cool and calm and I didn’t ask for a photo or anything, even though I wish I did.
Later, during the show, it dawned on me that I should have at least asked him to sign my ticket stub, but oh well. You’ll just have to take my word that I met Jeff Austin twice in the past year. What can I say? I like my grass blue! (and green!)