Perhaps you already read about it in our SXSW coverage: How alt heartland rocker Melissa Etheridge ended up super-jamming with members of Diarrhea Planet and Austin punks The Midgetmen at a South By day party on Thursday at Austin’s Side Bar, busting out a ramshackle, eight-guitar-strong, near-seven-minute-long rendition of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ classic “Refugee.” Now check out some fairly well filmed, hi-def fan footage of the crowd-rousing, one-time-only collaboration.
Later on Thursday night, before another SXSW show at which Diarrhea Planet would close the night covering The Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight for your Right (to Party!)” with Brooklyn gutter-pop-punks The So So Glos, DP singer Jordan Smith told the Cream the Etheridge sesh started as a joke. The Midgetmen’s Marc Perlman haphazardly set it rolling when, weeks ago, he jokingly started a Twitter war with Etheridge — he said he hoped she might get a record contract at SXSW, and eventually, in jest, challenged the singer to jam. Etheridge called Perlman’s bluff and what started on Twitter continued via email. Soon, Perlman emailed DP with instructions to learn “Refugee.”
“We’d never practiced it together, that was all on the spot,” Smith said of the by-pant-seat performance.
“Yeah Twitter, isn’t that fun,” Etheridge bantered onstage with a chuckle before the performance, during which she name-checked “The Diarrhea Planet” — “that [name] was fun telling my mom [pause] never mind.” “That’s a real band with a joke name, that’s what you are,” she told Smith and his bandmates.
“She kinda knew who we were, I guess,” Smith said. “We had a bunch of guitars … she thought that was cool.”
Smith met Etheridge at the show, where she wanted — and had earlier even tweeted about — one of the band’s T-shirts.
“I was completely floored by how nice she was,” Smith recalls. “She was, like, the coolest, nicest person. … She’s so energetic and definitely has a really positive aura around her, where it’s like you can immediately sense that she’s very used to entertaining people and making people happy. … I don’t know if I’d have gone and seen her before, because I’m not as familiar as I should be with her work, but after meeting her and just seeing how energetic and fun she was, I would definitely go and see her.”
It’s worth noting that, a mere week before hitting the Side Bar stage with Diarrhea Planet, on March 6, Etheridge performed for President Barack Obama in the East Room of The White House at the Women of Soul benefit. What a weird world we live in.