You’ve Crossed the Blog Wasteland, Here’s Your Oasis of Inanity!
And so it comes to this . . .
I have been shamed. SHAMED, I tells ya! Jane Anne, our gracious Edinburgh venue co-host, and main blogger for the House Concerts at Douglas Robertson’s House, called me out by name! Specifically, she said, “your blog is like this: (INSERT THE SOUND OF WIND BLOWING ACROSS A BARREN DESERT).”
It’s true, I have been derelict in my duties, and for that, I apologize. All I can say is, baby (babies), please don’t go! We still love you and need you all to share in our non-adventures and eating mishaps. If I don’t share them here, and you don’t read and enjoy, perhaps they never happened at all? If a band plays a gig and doesn’t blog inanities thereafter, did they ever really gig at all? Wow . . what a koan. In that same vein, Eddie is curious if you order a pizza, and it doesn’t have a HOT DOG STUFFED CRUST, was there ever a pizza at all?
And so . . .
Saturday, April 28, 2012
I’m sitting in the dressing room of Brookfield Village Hall, languishing after a savory meal from our favoritest take-out in all the world, the Bombay Deli of Paisley. The sun is shining (I know, what are the odds?), and I’m overlooking a pristine bowling green. We need more of these in the You Ess of Aigh . . . bowling clubs. Not bowling alleys, mind you, but a lush, closely mowed lawn on which one can toss a few balls. We can all wear white outfits and cultivate our mustaches, also. Sounds like heaven.
We arrived in Scotland two days ago, after an uneventful 13 hours of travel. We enjoyed a few hours of time-killing in the fabulous shopping and people watching mecca of Heathrow Terminal 5 (worth it), and walked around in the rain upon arrival in Edinburgh. We are once again being hosted both by the fabulous Sue and Bill (“Banjo Bill” on my UK cell phone), and by our good friend Leonie. I cannot say enough, as usual, about the generosity of folks who would put up a group of haggard and road/air-weary musicians. It is a pool from which we dip our ladle of despair on a relatively frequent basis, and we can only hope we will never see its bottom.
Anyways . . .
Last night (April 27) we played at Douglas Robertson’s excellent venue/house/studio to an overfull house. It was our first full band gig in nearly six weeks, and there were certainly some momentary rough moments, we plowed through them with our usually bulldozer-like approach to stringband music. It can be summed up as follows: make a mistake once, and it’s a mistake; make that mistake multiple times in a row, it becomes a genre decision. We are, if nothing else, pioneers in the genre of slop-time music.
The crowd was super appreciative, and it felt very good to see so many familiar faces in the crowd. There remains no show as fun as the intimate ones like those at Douglas’s amazing space. Highlights of the show include many of Ed’s unintentionally hilarious between-song quips. More and more, we are working to get the whole band making banter (guess who still bears the lion’s share of the work . . . the same one who’s tap tap tapping away right now, while the others lay about and whistle sweet tunes of sloth and skullduggery. But who’s complaining?). There’s no joy like compelling Ben Belcher or Graham DeZarn to break their vows of on-stage silence and let fly a riotously funny burst of words. They’re usually like the stoics of old – stony-faced and unsmiling – but every now and again, you can get Ben to crack one of those famous smiles, or Graham to open his oft closed mouth, and those moments, folks, make it all worthwhile! What was I talking about?
The show ended, as so many of these shows do, with a double encore – so flattering. After all the folks left and the living room was reassembled, we lounged about, “tasting” a variety of whiskeys that Douglas pulled out of some deep dark place in his house. It was great to have the majority of our accumulated friends all in one place, conversing loudly and imbibing freely. We heard about Douglas and JaneAnne’s trip to Mali and their stay with Toumani Diabaté, which sounded pretty excellent. It was right around then (somewhere in between making fun of our Facebook presence and chiding Jake for flirting with her Spanish friend and tenant (he’s a passionate man, folks, who can blame him?)) that JaneAnne equated this blog to a barren wasteland. And it hurt, it hurt deep.
Tonight’s show at Brookfield Village Hall was a great success. It always takes us a second to get used to the more subdued crowds that we sometimes encounter over here (or in the states, for that matter). A pitfall of attempting new banter every night is hat sometimes it crashes and burns in the most spectacular of ways, an exciting but unfortunate hazard of the trade, indeed. Better than the alternative though, no? Don’t know about you folks, but there’s nothing I like less than when it’s obvious that a bandleader/front man is spewing out well-worn aphorisms and repeated content. It makes the whole presentation feel completely insincere. So, the next time you see us and some piece of awkwardness comes out of one of our mouths, know that it is done with the most noble of intentions.
Last night, however, we had an ace in the hole – Graham’s sweetie, Shannon Dunne – flatfooter extraordinaire – has joined us for the duration of our trip abroad. While it was clear that the audience was enjoying themselves, when she got up and danced for us, there was a marked change in the feel of the room, and the hoots and stomps increased exponentially. I never would have guessed that we’d be the type of band who could attempt to employ a flatfooter as part of our stage act, but it works out pretty well; just not during songs about cheeseburgers or gritty Atlanta dive clubs. Don’t worry, we’re a long way from suspenders and sepia-tone. The show ended out nicely and we got to spend some quality time with Loudon, our main Scotland liaison, and then we drove back to Edinburgh . . .
Oh, how could I forget? I’m driving!! On the wrong, er, other side of the road! That’s right folks, we are without a driver on this tour. No stories of Gerald “Wrong Turn” Roche (out on the road with Pokey LaFarge), or David “Better Out Than In” Rollo (not sure where he is). So we are left to provide our own transport. Not so much of a problem, as we’re not doing much traveling. Only we DO have these two gigs in and around Glasgow, and so to the rental van we go. It’s a beaut, a 2012 Mercedes Vito. Ooh la la! We are fancy, aren’t we? With a Sat-Nav and everything. I’m the designated driver, and everything’s been going pretty well; I only ended up on the right hand side of the street once yesterday. My biggest problem is that I feel a great amount of pressure to provide hilarious and insulting banter while we listen to BBC 2 at incredibly high volumes. Unfortunately, I’m proving unable to muster the proper level of vitriol at either the other drivers or at the other denizens of the van, and also, I can’t bear the inanities of BBC 2. Oh Gerry, I’ve failed you. Perhaps we should start the “Gerry Roche School for Aspiring Gritty Road Managers,” so as to propagate the confusing combination of extreme negativity and competence, to say nothing of the odors (sorry Brits, odours).
And now we are gearing up for the 3rd gig of our short mainland visit – The Universal in Glasgow with Dr. Mango and the Chickpeas (another “And Band,” a term coined by our pals in Dick Buttkiss and the Tight Ends). It’s going to be a hoot, and I’m sure I’ll be back with more stories of non-action and adventure for you, soon enough.
Addendum: What kind of things do you folks want me to talk about? I have had a number of people compliment the blog recently, and I’d like to keep doing so. But usually I only blog when we tour, and, as you know, we’re touring less and less these days. Are there other related subjects you feel would be appropriately inappropriate for this blog? Let me know!
PF, Over and Out and Off to Oink!