I get credit for discovering Sarah Olsen.
Sarah Olsen is a singer and songwriter who lives in an undiscovered town called Young Ward in Cache Valley. I discovered her last spring sitting on a stool in the middle of a sidewalk at Utah State University. She had a guitar and was singing as part of some outdoor celebration USU was hosting.
She stopped me in my tracks. She has the most pure, wonderful voice I've heard in a long time, maybe ever. I don't drink wine but I want to describe it as being sweet as wine. (For some reason, complimenting someone by saying their voice is as sweet as root beer doesn't sound the same.)
I have often wondered if I would have recognized the talent the Beatles had if I just came across them before they were famous, playing their music in the Cavern in Liverpool. Would I have stopped and taken in the tunes or would I have just turned up my iPod and guzzled my root beer?
(I use the Beatles as an example here because I have sort of a deep connection to them. If I had been born in a different place and time, and had been given talent, looks, determination and charisma, I could have been one of the Beatles. I was that close to being part of the Fab Five.)
I have since heard Sarah Olsen perform two more times and I've bought all the music that she's recorded. She performed at Summerfest in Logan, which is a peaceful, crowded art festival that takes place in the center of town around the Tabernacle. It's a mellow, slow-moving event that makes you feel like you've stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting.
I also saw her sing at another event called Art on the Lawn in North Logan. Each time, I have been stunned to see people just wandering by as she performed. It appeared the amazing music floating in the summer air wasn't even registering but becoming part of atmosphere of it all. She invests heart and soul in her very personal music and for some people, apparently when they hear it live, it's just nice background. It's too bad that music has to make it into our headphones before we'll pay any attention to it.
I guess she shouldn't feel too bad. Recently I went and saw Ringo Starr perform. When the show started, right on time, there were still thousands of people wandering in to find their seats. Ringo Starr and his All-Star Band were performing and there must have been 5,000 people who just wandered in late. All the aging hippies were there showing proper respect, but many others seemed clueless.
I felt like standing up and apologizing to the band and marching the audience out to the parking lot and explaining to everyone that there is only one Ringo Starr of Beatles fame and that's the very guy they were disrespecting. I would ask them how they would feel if they were one of the All Stars and got treated like that.
Then I would make everyone go back to their seats, apologizing one by one, with heads bowed in shame, to Ringo and the other guys in the band. No one would be allowed to get Nachos first. If they had to go potty, they would just have to wait until after Ringo and the other guys were done.
I had a similar experience at a Jackson Browne concert with a disrespectful audience and I got a chance to meet Jackson after the concert. I actually apologized for the audience not showing proper respect. I felt like saying, "I thought I had raised them better than that."
Sarah also deserves more respect. I'd get the ball rolling by becoming an official Sarah Olsen groupie but I'm not sure she'd appreciate that. Her concerts are usually free and nearby so they are easy to go to, but I worry that I'm not the kind of person she wants front and center in her concerts. Old fat guys don't help young singers develop their brand position very well.
(I have used my Chris Farley charisma to my advantage in the past by going to snowboarding shops and hanging around, greeting everyone until they paid me to leave. It's good money if your ego can take it.)
My ego has been prepared for such things. I was discovered once myself. I was a student at BYU and my hair had grown just a little longer than was allowed there. Someone picked me out of a crowd and asked me to go to a photo shoot they were doing in the building. They said I would be perfect for the role they needed me to play.
I wasn't overweight back then and yet I wasn't often mistaken for a model either. I was quite flattered. It turned out they were taking pictures for an EMT manual and they wanted to have a photo page demonstrating how to tie up and gag a dangerous, mentally imbalanced, verbally combative person. They tied me up and gagged me as a photographer took pictures. All I had to do was "act naturally," as Ringo Starr would say.
Another thing I like about Sarah is that she has never once suggested I be gagged and tied up. She even let me interview her once. She was so kind and respectful. (Did you ever see Chris Farley interview Paul McCartney on Saturday Night Live? I was Chris. She was Paul.)
To be completely truthful, Sarah has already been discovered by a few other people. Russ Dixon, who is an amazing photographer and a singer in the band Colors, discovered her, too. He helped her get her first CD, "Just Another Day," recorded.
But I'm the first person who writes columns that upset, trouble and confuse people, who has discovered her. And I want that on the record.
When I met Jackson Browne he asked me to tour with him. Not in a direct way. His exact words were, "Thanks for coming to the concert. It was nice to meet you." But the between-the-lines message was clear: "I would die to make music with you, dude! I can't believe you weren't one of the Beatles." I waited for him to call, but he never did. I wonder if he had a friend who was an EMT.
That's all beside the point. Someone has already discovered Jackson Browne. I'm here to say that Sarah Olsen is the best female singer, songwriter in Cache Valley, maybe even Utah — possibly the universe. I want credit for discovering her. And unless you are an EMT who knows how to tie up and gag a verbally combative person, I think you should just let me have my opinion.
You'll discover it's for the best.
Sarah Olsen will be performing at a free concert at the Farmer's Market in Logan on Aug. 18 at 11 a.m. You can learn more about her music and the concert by going to saraholsenmusic.com.
Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at [email protected].