The guy who gave out jobs liked my black hush puppies so he let me work on the concert staff at McCabe’s Guitar Shop for a few years in Santa Monica, CA. This was a very intimate venue that seated 110. (But we could fit nearly 131. I folded the chairs. I know.) As part of the concert staff, I purchased fruit platters and deli trays for the likes of Jonathan Richman, the Meat Puppets, Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, and Townes Van Zandt, emptied trash cans, and rang-up customer sales during intermission. I also watched a lot of fantastic music for free. McCabe’s is where I learned to appreciate John Hiatt, because I saw him play there a lot. I actually had some John Hiatt LPs already but couldn’t seem to get past the glossy production. But at McCabe’s, the stripped-down setting highlighted Hiatt’s strengths as a songwriter, and breathed life into his new set of songs. That set of songs ultimately became a collection called “Bring the Family,” which established the John Hiatt sound he has maintained since. The producer of that record, the architect of that sound, was my boss at McCabe’s, the guy who’d given me a job because of my shoes.