The Weekend Sun, Saturday, August 23, 1997, page D8

Aussie fan fumbles here with friends' help

Katherine Monk
Sun Pop Music Critic

They don't just love Sarah McLachlan's music -- they like each other enough to share the experience.

They call themselves "fumblers". They are a group of fans from around the U.S., Canada and the UK who have formed friendships through an electronic mailing list dedicated to McLachlan and her music.

Thirty-seven of them will be travelling to Vancouver from around the world for the grand finale of Lilith Fair at Thunderbird Stadium this weekend, but one of the travellers has an extra reason to be exited: She's flying from Australia on a free ticket.

"When I heard that Alana [Jones] wanted to make it but couldn't afford the ticket from Melbourne, I thought it would be a good project to ask people on the mailing list if they wanted to help out," says Lois Rodriguez, 32, the "Send Alana to Lilith Fair" founder and lifestyles editor for the Galveston County Daily News.

"The response was great. More than 40 people answered and the average donation ranged between $30 and $100," says Rodriguez over the phone from her office outside Houston.

"The person who sent $30 was great because she was just a kid who sent her after-school job money to help out. I thought that was great -- but that's the kind of fan Sarah attracts. We're all pretty giving."

The cost of buying an airline and concert ticket for Jones was about $1,600 U.S., says Rodriguez.

"For us, it's worth it because we've discovered that we all share quite a bit in common outside our mutual interest in Sarah's music. We all just seem to get along."

Rodriguez says the Vancouver rendezvous will mark the first wide-scale meeting of "fumblers" (named after McLachlan's American breakthrough release, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy).

"We're calling it the Fumble Rumble."

McLachlan has developed quite a reputation for building an avid fan base through her deeply personal music and lyrics. Her song Possession was about an obsessive fan who stalked McLachlan before committing suicide.

"We're not that kind of fan," says Rodriguez. "If anything, we're really protective of her and we're pretty careful about the kind of people we talk to on the mailing list. There are psycho fans out there, but I don't know them."

Rodriguez, who flew to Australia and met Jones on a pleasure trip last year, says she's never been a member of a fan club before her involvement with the fumblers.

"I was just surfing Websites when I stumbled into the [link for] the mailing list -- which you can subscribe to and share thoughts on Sarah's music.

"I'm pretty outspoken and I spend a lot of time on the computer at work -- it was just a natural evolution and so far, it's introduced me to a really interesting group of people who I'd actually consider friends."


Personal note: I was one of the thirty-seven (probably more). To say the least, it was a blast.

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