Sometimes, on Fridays, I like to go to happy hour and enjoy a few beers.
I did this a couple weeks ago with some friends at Morgan's Pier. It was a lovely early summer evening in Philadelphia drinking outdoors. Pretty typical.
A few hours later, I found myself sitting at a table at Johnny Brenda's in Fishtown listening to Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin make fun of my girlfriend's mother.
Not exactly typical.
Barwin and I had been playing text tag, trying to catch up to talk about the benefit show he's putting on this coming Friday night, June 20th, at Union Transfer featuring local artists Kurt Vile, the Districts, and a band hailing from his former residence in Houston, the Tontons.
It just so happened that 10:30 pm on a Friday night after I'd been drinking for a few hours worked best for the busy Eagles linebacker.
But he made time, because Barwin really wants to get the word out and do absolutely everything he can to make this show -- and the playground it's helping renovate -- a big success. He even rode around town on his bike putting up flyers for the event.
For the record, I had all of these great questions and ideas for Barwin prepared earlier in the day in my head. Not your typical Q&A, you see. This was going to be different! But then I got drunk and I talked to the Eagles linebacker about music for a few hours. Mostly I blabbered about my favorite band, Phish, the entire time. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I remember it, but the great interview I had planned certainly went out the window.
I do recall my girlfriend attempting to get Barwin to explain his linebacker position in terms of chess pieces. Turns out she doesn't know football all that well and he isn't a chess expert either. So that convo didn't really go anywhere. But it was entertaining.
What was the major takeaway? What info about his benefit show did he really want to get out there that hadn't already been said?
He wants people to know all of the bands participating in Friday's big event are playing for free. Kurt Vile & the Violators, the Districts, and the Tontons are all donating their time, effort, and skills to help Barwin's cause of rebuilding a playground in the Point Breeze section of Philadelphia. Pretty nice gestures from some impressive bands.
But the bands aren't the only people going the extra mile to help a community in South Philly. Once all of the proceeds from the show and bar tabs from the night are added up, Barwin is going to match that total out of his own pocket. In just a short time in Philly, he's become wildly popular from the field to the music clubs (and on social media for both reasons). But he doesn't keep that popularity behind a velvet rope, and although being charitable isn't in itself unique for a high-profile athlete, it does seem like his brand of accessibility is. Rather than a ploy for ever-more attention, Barwin genuinely appears to enjoy his surroundings, and he clearly wants to give back and help improve what he can.
So if you like hearing good music and supporting good causes, shell out a few bucks for a ticket, head over to Union Transfer on Friday night, and maybe you can enjoy a beer while talking to Connor Barwin about your favorite band while somehow simultaneously helping to rebuild a playground.
And if he's busy playing host, you can at least find me and I'll talk your ear off about Phish.