Monday, September 21, 2015

Drumstick Adventure

You know, just about every Monday, my coworker Ashly Burch asks me "How was your weekend?" and it's a very pleasant and considerate query but I sit there in silence with a dumb look on my face because I can't think of anything to say because nothing happened that weekend. Well, today is gonna be different, says I! Went out to Faulkner's house to play accordion on the Thacker Mountain Radio Show. They never had a radio show there before, and hardly even a radio. Faulkner hated the radio. There's a story about that but you'll have to go to Faulkner's house and ask Bill Griffith. He runs the place! I don't know how Faulkner felt about accordions. Kelly Hogan got in trouble for sitting - with no malice aforethought - on Faulkner's freezer. Because guess what? It's not just a freezer, it's a museum exhibit! Anyway, they had made Faulkner's kitchen into a green room for musicians, which I'm sure stressed out even the chill Bill Griffith. And I was thinking, yeah, but Hogan is probably the first person to sit on the lid of that freezer since Faulkner! It's like their very butts touched through the fabric of time!
Here's a picture that Megan Abbott took of Dr. Theresa (waving her hands in the air like she just doesn't care... but she does!) and Thacker producer Kathryn McGaw York grooving out on the sight of all their crazy hard work coming to fruition. Note Lopez's fetching hat, clearly visible in two photos thus far. Saw David Swider of The End of All Music. He said I should bring my Emmy to the record store for "Touch the Emmy Day," and people will come by and touch my Emmy while I spin records under the name "DJ Emmy." It seemed like a hilarious idea while we drank whiskey in Faulkner's yard and swooned companionably in the blazing hot sun! I feel like everybody sang about ghosts. Is that an exaggeration? I'm not sure! Must have been the unconscious pull of the setting. Or maybe songwriters just happen to like ghosts. I remember once many years ago a friend of mine claimed that she didn't like any song with the word "ghost" in it, which I found stunningly arbitrary. Okay, I'm leaving a lot of stuff out. But later that night, there was another show (not on Faulkner's lawn), and I was happy to hear great musicians like Amy Ray and Laurie Stirratt literally singing Dr. Theresa's praises (well, not literally! They were speaking, not singing, at those moments) from the stage. But before that late-night show, Dr. Theresa, who was in charge, was faced with some emergencies! Like: an amp that shocked a famous session guitarist with its electricity! Or: a drum kit but NO DRUMSTICKS! Jennifer and I were sent out into the night to scour the town for drumsticks. We went to a bar called Proud Larry's, where there is usually a band playing, to see whether the drummer might have an extra pair of sticks. But as we approached the door I noticed that the band's name had been ominously rubbed from the chalkboard outside! And sure enough, the band had been canceled because everybody wanted to watch the University of Mississippi play at Alabama, a big game. BUT! A thoughtful waiter told us that one of the bartenders was a drummer. And the bartender kindly went to check his car and found a drumstick. A single drumstick! It felt like a kind of triumph. A useless triumph! But I encouraged Jennifer to hold the pointless drumstick aloft in a victorious gesture as we returned. By the time we got back they had already found two more drumsticks. So we actually had one more drumstick than was absolutely necessary! Chris Lopez played first, under his solo guise "Tenement Halls." ("Click" here to listen to my favorite Tenement Halls song: you won't be sorry!) He kept taunting us with the first few bars of "Black Ice" (a Rock*A*Teens song which I have written about in the New York Times! or their "web" site anyway) but couldn't remember the lyrics. Finally he called out from the stage, "Theresa, what's the first line?" And we yelled back at him from the back table, but we didn't quite have them right either. Turns out the first line is "In a town up north of Nashville, where the Crackers go to learn how to play..." (I think) But (though we had the second half right) I had always heard it as something like, "In a town outta nada of Naughahooga" or something like that. Anyway, it got Chris rolling! After Chris's set, Rock*A*Teens fan Bill Boyle and I discussed the lyrics of "Black Ice" and how many different, incorrect ways we had heard them over the years. One thing I enjoyed was the fluid spirit of the proceedings. It didn't seem like five or six different bands playing, but more like one larger band that kept undulating and changing its shape in a lovely way. Lopez played drums for Amy Ray and Jon Langford and Hogan... Langford played guitar for Hogan... Hogan sang harmonies for Langford and Ray... like that. I really enjoyed hearing the Amy Ray/Rock*A*Teens collaboration "Black Heart Today." I found an older, milder, more "acoustic" performance of it on the "internet," which is good, but if you "click" here you will miss Lopez's rabid drum fills, for one thing, which had grown in majestic stature as the night drew to a close. I hope somebody recorded it! And all its mystical punk rock vibrations of glory.
I played accordion on three songs for Hogan, I think, including one I wrote a couple of decades ago (ugh! what a thought! decades! "click" here if you'd like to hear it, false starts and all). I played on Hogan's cover of the Magnetic Fields song "Papa Was a Rodeo" (really, I just noodled along) and I got so concerned with my noodling that I didn't even notice that Amy Ray had come up to join in, and I happened to glance out of the corner of my eye to see Amy Ray and Kelly Hogan gracefully two-stepping together.
Here's a still photo of that moment (post-dancing, I think). I stole it from somebody's twitter, sorry! There was a giant in a cowboy hat who was VERY enthusiastic about Langford's set. He whooped with such frightening intensity that Langford had to stop the show and calm him down with vinegary Welsh quips. Later I went to the men's room and found that giant cowboy in there with his girlfriend! They were just hanging out, no funny business, don't get me wrong. But then as he stood at the urinal he was going "OOOHHHHH! OUCH! ARRGHHHHH! AAAAAHHHWWWWWW!" like a person in the greatest human agony, which perhaps he was. Why did I mention that when there were so many nicer things to mention instead? Like breakfast the next day with Julie and Barry and Langford? John Currence surprised us by coming up behind us stomping on the floor, shaking the very building with his mighty tread! What the hell, it's his building, he can do what he wants! Then he bought champagne for the table as you can plainly see from this photo of the occasion.
Currence (not pictured) was pumped up and celebrating the University's triumph over its rival, to which I have already alluded. Sorry, Ashly, a lot of other stuff happened but my mind is going.