Turning gray, and it surely looks like rain.
|Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
I'm sorry, dear blog, for neglecting ye. Actually it's just been a multistep process to get this post out (download pics, cull, tweak, name, upload, etc.), and each step interrupted by various stuff including a nice Father's Day visit from my folks and stuff. K, back to it.
Nice ride out wide 50 west. The BassFest in St Marys is my annual reunion gig with my sweet and groovy old duo partner from college days, Titties aka Tommy Teachout. Remember that name, there will be a quiz.
Titties and I typically play a club that Friday night, then a set on the fest stage Saturday evening. Before, during, between, and after we get to hang around with our beautiful and groovy St Marys buds: Fred Barley (who named us all), Pam, Donnie (Dash Riprock), Pam, Connie, Stacey, Doug, Willie (Mark), Jan, Dan, Mel, Doug, Kathy, Tony, O, (Big Arm) Tim, and others. Connie and Stacey bust it hard all year to put this great riverfest together and kind enough to hire Magic Bus (that's T and me) to play it. Donnie and Pam open their gorgeous home for the extended weekend and we all play and eat and drink and get schmoked up and play some more. For the past few years we've had the joyful addition of Titties and Cherrie's little boy Tbird to delight us all. This year we also decided to beef up the show with a drummer, our tasty college pal Tbone aka Tracey Whorton.
So after a few weeks of not practicing like I should, but at least consciously listening to the tunes while driving and playing them in my head a lot, I pack my car on the first Thursday morning in June and head south and west to St Marys.
Unexpurgated Beatles. After a lovely drive for a couple hours on a sunny day I take a left off 16 on Greens Run, not far past King Ridge and the infamous Fredstock site), and wind down the hill toward Donnie's. Hugs, kisses, jamming, beers, good times. Pam had to work at the Fireside late that night, and after Titties headed back down into town Donnie pulls out this Beatles video footage, apparently cutting room floor stuff from the Let It Be movie, ya know with the concert on the roof. It's the last of the four, post-Yoko, in the studio. We examine carefully.
See Donnie is not merely a Beatles fan. He's a devotee. A serious student of every nuance of every glance between John and Paul. He casually mentions George's chauffer by name and that he passed away a few years back, as if he were Donnie's old buddy. When headlights come across the window around 1am he leaps up takes out the tape and puts it away and swears me to secrecy that I won't tell his girlfriend Pam what we were watching. "She thinks I'm ate up with it." We sit around and shoot the shit a while. I curl up on the couch for a few hours sleep before the dogs wake me up to go outside in the early morning.
Chill. Pam had to get up early and run some errands, and Donnie cooked up a stellar breakfast. After a while Titties and Cherrie and little Tbird appear. I take a run down to the local antique store with Fred and Pam, we stop at the grocery store, and dick around a bit in town. There's a fairly decent fiddle among the cheap chinese ones that are more wall decoration than instrument. He wants $300 firm. It's probably not that decent.
Back at the wigwam Tbone appears around 3p. Sweet! We move the coffee table, she sets up drums and congas, we commence practicing. We sound pretty damn good! Tbone is a smidge frazzled from all the shit she had to do doubletime to get away to play with us. Long about 6pm I'm getting weary, I could seriously use a nap. Titties is so sweet, he says we'll go load in and set up at the Hill, you go check in to the motel and get a nap then come out around 8 or 8:30.
Motel debacle. Deal. You da man. So I head down the hill to the motel, and bullshit ensues. I'll keep it mercifully short for ya, so suffice it to say there's no room with 2 beds (for me and Tbone), so I just head to the club sadly napless. Eventually we get a room that they've actually moved someone else out of (while he was gone!!!), and he still has a key, so why don't y'all just leave a note on the door saying come to the office for your new room key. Seriously, that's how it went.
Anyhoo, I remark that we really need about 8 or 10 more tunes. Tbone's like what? I'm like 4 hours takes at least 45 tunes. She's like 4 hours? Holy shit. She's been living la vida wedding band loca and forgot about the torture of the bar gig, it's 10 to 2. That's pm to am. Yikes.
The gig is just beyond bizarre, including lazery lights that practically give Tbone a stroke, the bar owner carrying his own wireless mic with so much reverb it's like graduation in the gym, fucked up monitors, notes on napkins instructing us what time to break, etc. And check out the sign, those dorks got Chee Chaw Mandezz out of Tommy Teachout and Mark Mendez (who wasn't even playing, yo). It was just whack, and we shouldn't have smoked that before the first set. Break down, outta there, off to the no tell motel for a few hours of shuteye after about 4a. Sorta, since we either crank the air for noise and freeze, or turn it off and hear all the bass fishermen getting their boats out.
Eventually we give up on sleep and get breakfast at the Fireside. All good. Titties and Tbird come out, too. Then Tbone and I decide to dick around, head back to the antique store to try to talk that guy down to about $265 on that fiddle (no deal), follow the river to Waverly and check out Connie and Stacey's extraordinary new riverfront place, and stop at this uber funky old post office/store across from Willow Island. Reminiscent of the Station Agent, n'est-ce pas? We also couldn't help but stop at this crazy rock formation just off the road on the way back in to St Marys. Connie sees us stopped and comes by to tell us a little history about the spot.
BassFest on ludes. We eventually get back to Donnie's, sit around the table with Titties and hammer out a set list for the Fest. Fortunately we only need about 18 songs, so we pick the choicest. We head over to the fest grounds, and bad news, it's the passive aggressive dick nose on behind the sound board, yeah, the one who totally sabotaged my sound last year because I asked for some EQ. Greeeeeaaaaaaat. He gives us some snide-ass remarks, we try to cajole or at least ignore him, and get set up in the tiny strip of space the no-brown-M&M's headliners left us. (They'll remain nameless here.) We get a sound check, which BTW the young guy helper actually sets our levels and he's so good not even one squeal. Time to play.
Was it just me, or were we like playing in molasses? I couldn't find a groove with a fuckin map. It was so weird. I felt like every single tune was deadly slow and getting slower. But we slogged on through, and folks came up afterward and said how freakin awesome we sounded. I know no one comes up and says you sucked even when you did, but this was not your usual oh you cats were great, it was seriously you sounded so excellent. Ya just never can tell. Who knows how it really went down, but it was a mighty relief to be done, all work for the weekend complete, and time to eat some homemade chicken and noodles, some funnel cake, head back to Donnie's firepit and smoke and drink the night away.
The reward. Oh hell yes. The fire was perfectly stoked, the weather was just right, and I got to toast marshmallows with TBird on the perfect marshmallow fork. Donnie's PA was set up on the deck, and the real music began under the stars. Shooting stars, actually. At one point Titties and Connie and I all stood out by the road and looked up to see a shooting star, then another. Up on Donnie's deck where we all take turns, leading tunes, jamming with each other, the carmonicas come out, the old Neil Young, your favorite songs. The sound is perfect and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. It's the best gig you can ever get.
The most rock and roll moment ever. Doug, the energizer bunny of jamming, played some gorgeous old and new tunes, and after a somewhat obscure John Denver tune around 11:30p he says "anybody got a phone? I'm supposed to be at work at midnight and I believe I may have a flat tire." Hehehe. Every hour or so he laughs about needing to call work. He just keeps on playing. Till the sun comes up. After about 2 hours sleep he gets up, we're all having coffee around table, and he says "fuck that crappy job anyway." Now that's a man with his priorities absolutely straight. YOU ARE SO ROCK AND ROLL!!
posted by cat 7:30 AM