Was it just a dream? Did this really happen? Did I watch Bob Crawford, Scott Avett, and Joe Kwon sing “Murder in the City” in the Ritchie Hill House? Did I sit at the same dinner table as Scott Avett with Joe Kwon and Bob Crawford at the very next table? Did I just eat an amazing dinner prepared and created by the famous Chef Vivian Howard? I am still pinching myself to make sure I did not imagine all the magical moments of Friday Evening’s Dinner benefitting the Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm in Concord, NC.
My husband Paul, the very best husband there is, surprised me with the opportunity of a lifetime. He said, “How would you like to have dinner with Scott Avett and Joe Kwon? Oh, and it gets better. Vivian Howard; chef and owner of The Chef and the Farmer Restaurant, and NC’s celebrity from the televised show “A Chef’s Life,” will be preparing the dinner.” I literally did a dance, holler, shake, jump, whoot-whoot, and hip-hop-hurray. To put it frankly, I didn’t sleep for days from excitement and I was walking on sunshine with anticipation.
The Lomax Dinner took place at the recently renovated Ritchie Hill House located on 391 Union Street, Concord, NC.
We pulled to the beautiful white house and was greeted with a lamb on a rotisserie in the walkway being prepared for the evening’s dinner.
Low and behold, Chef Vivian was to the left overseeing the lamb. I was tickled pink to be a part of all the excitement.
The seating was preassigned. In searching for our names, I came across Scott Avett’s place card just a few seats down from my husband and I. My stomach did flips with excitement.
Could I really be sitting at Scott Avett’s Dinner table? As we walked along the porch I peeked through the windows and saw Scott himself being interviewed by the camera crew. I grabbed my husband and said, ” Look there he is.” Paul said, “I know. He supposed to be here.”
Shortly after our arrival, they opened the doors and welcomed us to enter the Ritchie Hill House. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
To the left was Joe Kwon and to my right was Scott Avett. In the back was Vivian Howard and her camera crew. My husband squeezed my shoulder and said, “Look.” In walked Bob Crawford. He was a surprise guest. The night couldn’t get more exciting.
In that moment, the enormity of the situation sunk in and I became a nervous wreck. I admired these people so much. Here I am just this little person. What do I say, what do I do? My stomach did flips. I couldn’t think straight. There was an open bar. I thought maybe a drink would calm my nerves just a bit. I asked for a glass of wine. I began to drinking my glass of wine and had second thoughts. If I became too tipsy, I wouldn’t be able to operate my camera’s settings correctly. I put the glass down. I took a deep breath. I looked at my incredibly good looking husband and smiled at him. Then I grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures.
I didn’t want to be intrusive with my camera. I didn’t know what the rules would be. Therefore, I only brought one lens and no flash. The space was tight, so this was probably a good idea. However, I might have got some better shots if I had brought all of my gear. Either way, I worked with what I had.
I shot some pictures of Scott talking to guests and then I moved onto Joe.
I hid in the corner and took a few shots of him and he saw me and waved. I thought to myself, “Uh oh, I must have interrupted him,” and walked off. I walked to my husband, and the next thing I know, Joe Kwon was approaching us! I couldn’t believe my eyes. He came over and shook both of our hands. I was flabbergasted. Joe tried to start a conversation, but my shyness and awkwardness got the best of me. I spoke something unintelligent with a small stutter. Then I was speechless. The poor man was speaking to a deer in headlights. My husband tried to save the conversation, but he didn’t fare much better. We were lost causes. Joe politely left us to mingle with the other guests and I wanted to die in a corner.
Scott and Seth are dreamy. I think it is totally unfair that God should give them such incredible looks along with such amazing talent. Both can play multiple instruments. Scott is an amazing artist. They both look like movie stars. Really? Pretty unfair if you ask me. Scott has that beautiful curly hair and long eye lashes that literally flutter. And that smile… Oh how he smiles! I would almost hate him because he is so darn perfect, but he is also genuinely sweet. This makes it a little difficult to dislike someone.
His wife Sarah attended the beginning of the event. She was a lovely, pretty little thing in a flattering red dress. She recently delivered a baby about a month ago and you could not tell at all. This is another thing to add to the list of unfair things about the Avetts. I overheard Sarah telling Scott she had to leave to get home to the baby. He kissed her on the cheek, grabbed her hand, and said, “Let me walk you out.” I witnessed a genuine connection, love, and tenderness between the two of them. It made me admire him all the more. I know they are “real people,” but it is heartwarming to witness that they haven’t forgotten their roots, and they haven’t got lost in the stardom.
Then there is Bob Crawford, the gentle giant, aka Bobby. He has been with the Avetts from the very beginning to the rise of their fame. He is the third brother not by blood. He plays the bass, bass guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and on rare occasions the trumpet. His musical talent is multilayered. His smile is deep and real. In his smile you can see a big heart. He has been through alot. His daughter struggled with cancer and was in a very critical life threatening position. She has miraculously overcome the cancer. Since then Bob has raised funds and awareness for St. Judes’ Children’s Research Hospital. You can see the love of his family in Bob’s smile and Bob’s eyes. He is a good man and you can hear it in his music.
And then there is Joe Kwon. I find him so fascinating. He takes that cello and makes it the coolest instrument in the world. He picks up that heavy instrument and becomes one with it. His body, his arms, and his heart all move in sync with his bow and his cello. Out comes the most beautiful melodies ever created to my ears when his bow hits the strings. His passion for the music is shown all over his face. If the Avetts are letting loose and adding a little rock to their songs, Joe Kwon is jumping all over the stage with them, simultaneously holding and playing his cello. How does he do that?
When we go to The Avett Brothers Concerts, we try to stand or sit on Joe’s side. We are always curious of what he will do next. Tonia and Joe make quite a team. They literally feed off each other bouncing and dancing all over the stage. I can’t fathom how they can move with such energy and yet play so perfectly seamless. I am blown away. I have seen Joe lay on the floor, hold his cello upside down, and play his instrument. I am absolutely fascinated!
He is also a foodie like me! He has a Taste On Tour Blog where he posts the most artistic, touching photos. I only dream to get my photos close to being as good as his. His love for photography and food makes me love him all the more. He really is the coolest. Oh and his hair. He has great hair. I would kill for his hair. It is so unfair that I have this thin, fine hair, and I am a woman. He has this thick, gorgeous locks of hair that is shiny and black. Really? He is a guy. He doesn’t need that beautiful hair. The injustice in this world… On a serious note, I just really dig Joe. I dig all of the Avett band, but Joe makes me the most intrigued.
I end up getting over my embarrassing fumble and continued taking more photographs, when I eyed Vivian prepping her corn cakes and hummus. I tried to sneak some photos and she saw me.
The camera crew were all around her and I didn’t want to mess them up or upset her, so I snuck off. Next thing I know, one of the camera men asked me to continue to take photographs and assured me that Vivian was okay with it. So to my excitement I went back to take pictures as she was busy working and prepping the dinner…
I couldn’t believe my luck. Vivian Howard is very pretty and personable. She was extremely busy with her preparation and hard work and didn’t have much of an opportunity to mingle. I really would have loved to have gotten a picture standing with her and a chance to speak with her. But then again, she has The Chef and the Farmer Restaurant in Kinston, NC and this gives me an excuse to go back and visit it! Her food was amazing and beautiful. She is such a hard worker. I have a huge admiration for her. She was a big time chef in New York City, but left the city life to come back to her home town with her family to open her farm-to-table restaurant. I was quite shy around her also. It is pretty incredible to be a well known, respected chef in such a highly competitive line of work. I am just in awe of her. While I think the food that I prepare is pretty darn good; I in no way compare in experience, creativity, and skill that she has. I would love to give her a high five and tell her, “You go girl!”
As the evening progressed, we saw Scott, Bob, and Joe gather in one of the rooms. Paul and I followed them and realized they were picking up instruments. We were told not to expect a performance, so we were wide eyed and shocked as this was taking place.
We were just steps away from them as Scott busts out “Murder in the City!” They played “Laundry Room” and “John Brown’s Dream” also. We were in heaven. I think they would have kept playing, but Scott was told to stop because it was time for dinner. No one wanted to miss Vivian’s creations!
We sat down to a family style dinner of which Vivian called it a “Back Yard Sort of Barbecue” menu. Beginners included Deviled Eggs with Pickled Spring Onions and Marinated Peppers, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Hush Puppies with Goat Cheese and Smoked Tomato Jam. I am still thinking about the Hush Puppies! Man they were good. The crunchy breading with the creamy tomato jam was the perfect combination. We snuck seconds! Next came the Cornbread with Squash and Onion Hummus. Those Cornbread cakes were fantastic! It took me back to my roots. Growing up, the church ladies would make something similar. The crunchy, salty cornbread cakes went nicely with the soft, almost sweet hummus. Both paired excellent together!
The first course was the Lomax Salad. All the fresh greens and veggies came from the Lomax Farm.
The main course included Roasted Lamb with Charred Onion and Mint Barbecue Sauce, New Potatoes with Lemon, Feta, and Olives, a Spring Vegetable Slaw, and a cheesy Scallion Gratin with Tarragon. The Lamb was perfectly cooked. It was tender, juicy, not one bit gamey, and full of flavor. My mouth is still drooling over thinking about it! The Mint BBQ sauce was delicious on the lamb. It was similar to a chimichurri sauce and it was umm, umm good! The potato salad reminded me of a greek potato salad. The potatoes were roasted, with a light lemon dressing and accented with a salty feta making it an excellent combination. The cheesy Scallion Gratin with Tarragon was to die for. Chef Vivian Howard served that herself. Oh my gosh! The sweet onions, the creamy cheese layers….. More please! I would love to have that recipe!!
Dessert concluded with a Reimagined Pig Picking Cake with Strawberries. It was kind of a cross between the traditional Pig Picking Cake and a Strawberry Shortcake. It was a light, not overly sweet dessert and the perfect ending to a perfect meal. Compliments to the Chef! She outdid herself!
Everyone was chattering about how much they enjoyed the food and were very complimentary. Guests were having so much fun. It could not have been more fabulous.
The evening was coming to an end. Bob Crawford had to leave and we were unable to speak with him. Scott was sweet and patient, and spoke with all the guests. We had the opportunity to have a small conversation with him and get his autograph. He was as friendly and charming as he seems.
I somehow got my courage together and found Joe Kwon in a small room to himself. I grabbed my husband and we approached him. This time I opened the conversation with where we first saw him. I explained to him that I was a big foodie like him. He told us stories about how the band works up a huge appetite from performing, so afterwords, they gather around for special trays of meats, cheeses, and appetizers to chow down on. He said they have to eat salty things because they work a huge sweat on stage and they crave salt.
I explained to Joe that his fans were like the fans of Maxi B’s in Greensborro. Everyone waits in the long line of Maxi B’s and kills time discussing their favorite slice of cake. There is an excitement and passion over those slices of cake and the wait only builds anticipation. Similarly, while waiting for an Avett Brother’s concert, the fans start talking to each other discussing their favorite concert experience with the Avetts. If you have been to one concert with the Avetts, you will go to many more. Their fans are loyal and they build a camaraderie over sharing their experiences with each other. Joe’s eyes lit up over the discussion of cake and asked where Maxi B’s was located. So Maxi B’s… If Joe Kwon visits there, I sent him 🙂 Joe thought it would be cool to make trading cards unique to each concert for the fans to collect from each performance. I think that would be great. What do you think?
I brought up the fact that they will be playing with Ludicrous and Snoop Dog soon. That is quite a mix in the lineup. I asked him if they ever starting playing with the other bands while waiting to perform on stage. He said no, that generally each band sticks to themselves and they don’t often even see each other. I thought that was interesting. I still think it would be quite entertaining seeing Snoop Dog break out a rap song while The Avetts rock out on the fiddle, cello, banjo, and bass… Just saying!
I am happy to report that Joe, Paul, and I ended up with a real conversation and I recovered from my shyness. It was an incredible experience.
The Elma C Lomax Incubator Farm is a program which provides classroom instruction on the business of farming in Cabarrus County as well as hands–on experience on the farm. Participants in the program develop and manage their own agriculture business while receiving guidance from staff and seasoned farmers. Because of budget cuts, the Lomax Farm lost it’s funding with no warning. Scott Avett came in on the rescue and helped them get the funds to get it started back. Farming is not only a craft that provides jobs to our local community, but it gives back to others by providing food for our health and well being. If you would like to support the Elma C Lomax Incubator Farm, their website is www.carolinafarmstewards.org.
Vivian Howard and her staff worked very hard that evening to make a special dinner for the Lomax Benefit Dinner. We appreciate the amount of preparation, time, and hard work to create such an event. I just want to give a huge shout out to her along with all the many other volunteers, and of course the Avett Brothers for taking the time, money, and effort to support and bring awareness to such a worthy cause.
If you enjoyed this article, please check out Avett Brothers Perform in Columbia, SC.