Near as I can tell, it’s been close to 11 years since I was knowingly in the same room as Ryan Adams. It happened in June 2005, the last time he played a show in his old hometown of Raleigh, a night that was deeply emotional all the way around (more about that is in chapter 16 of “Losering”). It’s been easy enough to keep my distance from Ryan since then, because that was the last show he played anywhere in North Carolina. In fact, he seems to go out of his way to avoid playing his native state nowadays.
In the fall of 2011, when I was writing “Losering” and Ryan was touring for his Ashes & Fire album, I did ponder whether or not to get on a plane to go see him play somewhere else. But the timing didn’t really work out, as far as making it happen before the book’s deadline. So I let it go, and I’ve been content to leave my Ryan live experiences in the past.
Next week, however, I’ll be in Austin, Texas, for South By Southwest. And wouldn’t you know it, Ryan was just added to the schedule, which will be his first SXSW appearance since the early 2000s. He and his fellow North Carolina natives the Avett Brothers are to co-headline a showcase sponsored by Marriott Hotels. And in spite of it all — his non-cooperation, the fact that I haven’t really loved an album he’s done in many a year, and on and on — the sad truth remains that I don’t see how I can stay away.