Now THAT'S Rockin' the Stacks

By Tom Peters |

Vintage signageThe ALA Annual Conference in DC, which just ended, was another energizing, informative event.  In a forthcoming post I will summarize the more substantial sessions and issues that came to my attention.  However, in the spirit of the adage, "Life's uncertain; eat dessert first," I would like to share with you the most fun I had at ALA in DC.

Vendor receptions are a time-honored event at these conferences, and the protocol is well-established:

  1. Eat something, usually hors d'oeuvres
  2. Drink something, usually spiritous liquors
  3. Talk
  4. Laugh
  5. Rinse
  6. Repeat

Last Sunday evening I attended the OverDrive reception.  As always, Steve Potash and Team OverDrive added some interesting twists to the old vendor reception routine.  First, they held it in the lobby of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, the central library of District of Columbia Public Library system.  Completed in 1972 and designed by Mies van der Roh, the building is more austere than posh, sporting lots of black steel and glass.   

Lil Ed gets downThey converted the circulation counter into a bar, which probably has permanently raised my appreciation of circulation counters.  In addition to the usual beer, wine, and other refreshing beverages, they concocted some potion they called DigiPunch, which reminded me of the light, airy punch that my friend Lenny Curtis used to assemble for lawn parties on warm summer evenings in Iowa City in the early Eighties.  It was both delicious and nutritious. 

The finger food included pulled pork sandwiches.  I cannot remember ever seeing such down-home fare at a vendor fete.  That set the tone for the evening's entertainment, which was not some classical string quartet, but a blues band.

Not just any blues band, but Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials, recently named the blues band of the year by the Blues Foundation. Bruce Iglauer, the founder of the fantastic Chicago-based record label, Alligator Records, was in attendance.  I have been a fan of Alligator Records for 25 years, since Jon (Schmud) Boyd advised me to listen to Genuine Houserockin' Music (AL 101), an early compilation album.  I still own that vinyl LP. 

Lil Ed and FriendsThe band played two solid sets, including old faves such as "Chicken Gravy and Biscuits" as well as new stuff, such as "Icicles in My Meatloaf."  Everyone had a great time.  Near the conclusion of the second set, Steve Potash, OverDrive's founder and CEO, and someone from the DCPL (sorry, I didn't catch his name), joined Lil' Ed on stage to sing "Sweet Home Chicago" as a trio.  They sounded amazingly good.  It must have been the DigiPunch.