Epic memento: Schoolteacher gets second chance at poster
It was only a poster, but it meant everything to Wendy Marsters.
The Northern California high school teacher has been listening to Dave Matthews Band since 1995, and she catches the band's show every time they happen near her home. But for the final show on the final tour before a fan-freaking hiatus, she decided to cross the continent.
"I knew it would be epic–- " she says in a phone call from Chico, "epic in Dave Matthews Band-ness."
And she even found an epic seat in Charlottesville. As the 20th person in line for the November 20 show at John Paul Jones Arena, the 41-year-old parlayed her 12-hour wait into primo, second-row seats.
"I had the best seat in the house," says Marsters "And I wanted a poster as a symbol of this trip."
Every DMB show has a different, limited edition poster, and Marsters paid $40 for one of the 650 Methane Studios posters printed just for the Saturday event.
"There's key shows that sell out and are important and people collect the posters," explains Marsters. And because the Charlottesville show was the last one until 2012, there's one offered on eBay for $400.
After the three-and-a-half hour concert, Marsters went to the nearby McDonald's restaurant while the Arena traffic cleared. She started talking to a young man from Richmond who'd also been at the show, and who asked how much she wanted for the poster and offered her $250, she says. No way, responded Marsters.
"It's priceless to me," she says she told the blond fellow who appeared to be 18 or 19 years old.
When it was her turn to order, she put the rolled up poster tube under her arm. And then it happened.
"I feel it yanked from under my arm," says Marsters. "And this kid I've just told my whole story to is going out the door. I tried to chase him with three other people," she recounts, but the teen escaped with the purloined poster.
"I've never had anything stolen," says Marsters, who felt her trip–- which included jaunts to Monticello and Blenheim, the Matthews-owned winery–- suddenly disintegrating.
"I was distraught," says Marsters. "I couldn't stand that this kid had taken away my whole experience."
"She came back so beside herself," says innkeeper Jim Stern at the Inn at the Crossroads, where she stayed. "You travel across the country and get stuck up."
Marsters acknowledges that she was very upset, but in a power-of-positive-thinking testimonial, "I tried to focus on the show," she says, adding that it was one of the best she's seen. "That's what snapped me out of it."
The next morning while serving breakfast to Marsters and 15 fellow concert-goers, Stern was astounded that she didn't mention her traumatic experience. "I didn't want it to be a crappy concert experience for everybody else," she told him.
Yet Stern was so appalled at what had happened to Marsters that he told her story to an acquaintance at MusicToday, the ticketing and merchandising company built on DMB merch. The MusicToday employee requests that his name not be mentioned in this story because he's not authorized to talk to the press, but after he heard the tale, another copy of the rare poster was soon on its way to Marsters.
"I'm just floored," says Marsters. "I'm completely blown away."
She's also blown away by the support she's gotten from DMB fans, who have denounced the poster thief on FaceBook, declaring that Dave Matthews' fans don't behave that way.
"The outpouring of love from Dave Matthews fans has overwhelmed me," says Marsters. "Even if I never got another poster, I'm overwhelmed by the love and support I've gotten from this.
And the robbery didn't sour her on Charlottesville.
"Everyone I met was wonderful," she says. "It's a beautiful area. I would definitely come back with my family."
Updated noon 12/9/10 with the correct spelling of Marsters' name.