Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

I often have opportunities to approach some of my favorite musicians before or after a show, but I have little or nothing more to say other than “Your music moves me” or “You’re great,” so I never do. I’m anticipating the uncomfortable silence that would follow. However, I really feel a need to let these people know how much I appreciate their artistic output. What do you have to say about my particular predicament and the need for fans to speak to those who’ve moved us? —Tracy Roberts, Nashville, Tenn.

When I think of approaching people whose work I admire or appreciate, I first evaluate the situation. If they appear to be busy at work, eating a meal, or in a private conversation, I do not approach. If they are standing around idly, I may approach. One thing to consider: Musicians are people, too. All people have good and bad days, good and bad moods. I usually begin with something as simple as: “Hi, my name is Bob, and I am fan of your work.” At that point, the musician will either engage with you or will not be interested. The reaction has nothing to do with you. The musician might be a great person, a total shithead, sick with bronchitis, or some other variant. If you engage the person, it might be a good idea not to bring up how much song three on album two means to you—we’ve already established the context. Ask if they’ve heard any good new bands or seen an interesting movie. You’ll learn more about the person, and they will feel more at ease. You’ll likely get much further if you interact on a normal level. But, then again, if the person enjoys fawning fans, you could always flatter your way on to the tour bus.

Bob Mould blogs at modulate.blogspot.com. Send questions to askbob@washingtoncitypaper.com.