spend a week in orlando, sandwiched around southern culture on the skids gigs, and you're gonna come by some stories. i can bullet a bunch of 'em here, but i know i won't remember them all, nor all at once, so expect some "oh, yeah!" moments over the next few days and a few more random tales from the road. last night's show at the iron horse in northampton is freshest in my mind, so we can start with a few anecdotes from there:
first of all, northampton is one of those one-of-a-kind places where you see and hear things on the street that just can't be put completely into words. the first impression that you get after parking your car and going wading out into the personae (feminine form intended--the estrogen is so thick even the guys walking around the streets seem to have absorbed it from the atmosphere, and give off a kind of testosterone-less wimpy vibe that makes you conclude, as i did about one particularly pale older guy toting a paper sack out of a wine shop, that "she only lets him out of the house to pick up her wine", which, by the way, elicited a pretty god laugh from the posse even if it doesn't seem that witty to you, cuz, well, you just had to be there).
even before that, the shop right in front of us as we stepped out of the car had a very large, white t-shirt displayed in the window, which was emblazoned, in giant black lettering that took up the entire front of the shirt, I [heart] LESBIANS, which was funny both from the two-way entendre (such things take on a whole different meaning would they be worn by a guy, or in a place like lowell) as well as for how silly such sentiments are all by themselves. at least to me. and, so far in my experience, only in northampton.
on our way over to the paper sack encounter (and i think this one is my personal favorite) we passed a gentleman out walking his dog engaged in conversation with a young girl and her father about what one must assume would have been an inquiry as to the dog's name. "his name is beowulf" (bay-oh-wolf, as only a professorial type would enunciate it, and i'm sorry i don't have a recording of it for your listening pleasure, because it was, literally, a classic) "you know, like the dragonslayer".
it was a POODLE.
(ok, it wasn't a toy but a standard one, but it was one just freshly shorn with his summer haircut, so, believe me, none of the irony was lost). yes, some guy out in northampton walks his poodle named beowulf and calls him loudly by name while (unsuccessfully, i might add) admonishing him to SIT, beowulf, SIT. all i could do not to laugh out loud.
once inside the iron horse, it was all southern culture goodness. skipping ahead to the heart of the show, i need to say that mary did frisbee the top of the KFC bucket out into the audience during the intro to 8-piece-box, (the bucket of which was returned to her after the show in pursuit of an autograph, which, i understand from dave, which is a story for in just a little bit, is not all that rare an occurrence, which, as easily amused as i seemed to be yesterday, fulfilled me greatly to realize that there are, across this great country of ours, uncounted KFC buckets displayed proudly on rec room shelving--i'm hoping they're fastened to basement faux paneling--with mary huff's john hancock, which is a beautiful thing), and rick miller brought my particular house down by asking us all if we've ever seen a trouse, because he saw a bunch of 'em up in maine earlier in the week. (a trouse being a trailer that's in process of becoming a house, perhaps via addition of the very faux-paneled rec room containing the KFC bucket that's adorned with mary's sharpie signature...) ahhh, tales of upward mobility...
the impromptu stage dancers were as enthusiastic as you'd want them to be, and just as memorable in their own upwardly mobile way, and mary and rick and dave and the-other-guy (more on that in a moment, too) were having a ball letting the rest of us all have a ball. at one point during the show, the guy next to me who was sitting by himself, who had been exhorted upon to GO TO THE SHOW!!! by a friend who couldn't be there because of how good SCOTS is every single time, turned to me and said what i hear literally every single time, which was "THESE GUYS ARE GGRREEAATT!!!!!" (at various points the word "great" was replaced by terms like "amazing" and "incredible"). he was drumming on his beer glass with his silverware for much of the show (basically everything past the first number) in between jumping up and dancing and banging on the table and you could tell he just had never seen anything quite like it before. such enthusiasm and thrall is as much the reason i'll drive 200 miles to see a show as anything, and it's infectious. (don't you feel like that should be spelled with a "U", like "infectuous"?) he even gave my tablemate the laugh of her evening when he asked if i'd be able to read the total off his credit card receipt for him (the irony never stopped last night, and that's a fact) and i chose, rather than hand it to her and say "read this", as i usually do with all of mine, to hand him instead my magnifying reading glasses out of my front pocket, so he could manage it himself. (i thought she was going to aspirate her drink and need CPR she was laughing so hard).
so, to wrap up some of the earlier promises before breaking and giving you a break:
dave was conversing on the street with another fan when we walked by with my blaze orange southern culture on the skids racing team t-shirt which had been artfully personalized by mary huff only days before down in hoboken. being in the moment, as i generally am when out fan-boy-ing my favorite bands, i asked if he'd be generous enough to add his own personalization, which he was only so very sincerely happy to do, (have you ever noticed how the best bands are always the ones most appreciative of their fans, even when we're at our fan-boy-est?), and the four of us there got into a conversation about the guitar god who is rick miller. (because, with dave's and mary's signatures, the shirt had nothing but a big egregious hole where the third signature NEEDED to be, so, naturally, the conversation would get around to such things.
now i'll start all this out by saying, as i did to dave hartman when he said what he said about rick, that dave more than keeps up. as in, more than keeps up with almost any drummer you've ever seen or could name. the glass-drumming oh-my-god-these-guys-are-amazing guy seated next to me, at the inevitable point in the evening where first-timers can't help but notice such things, blurted out almost so loud the folks in the balcony could have heard him even in the middle of one of the loudest most raucous and ON IT numbers of the show, that HE'S STANDING UP!!! there are two words for the facial expression in such moments, and they are "blown away". (blown away, as in you know you're hearing the guitar and the bass and the vocals and there's a song going on, but you're so enthralled by the beats that they've gotten into your very soul and you CAN'T SIT STILL, and you're willing to tell the guy next to you and anyone else you meet for the next two weeks that you've seen something you're never going to forget. anyway, this is all to say that this is a musical talent like few others, so when it holds an opinion with which you agree, you begin to believe what you know to be true...
dave told the story via the context of having seen a piece of clapton's 24-night run at the royal albert hall awhile back, and, having played on the same stage with rick miller as often as he had, coming to the mind-altering conclusion that rick's as good as anyone there is.
you want my honest opinion? on his danelectro or on his gibson, (that upward mobility thing--hehehehe), just pickin' along while he's singing any of his songs, or melting your face clean off during "mexi-melt", rick miller is a surf rock, rockabilly rock, southern culture on the skids rock, or any other kind of rock you can name rock, rock guitar talent that just has to be seen to be understood. dave gets it. i get it. a bar full of northampton southern fried surf rock afficiados get it. you should get it too. (i would have told dave that i'd seen carlos santana the immediate night before, which i did, by the way, and that dave was right on the money right about the clapton thing too, but why tell a man what he already knows far better than you).
the best part? dave hartman, drummer extraordinaire, just hanging with fans on the street and enjoying the vibe from just having rocked the house, offered to bring me back inside to find rick so that he could add the third part of the triumvirate to the now-classic t-shirt. thanks dave!!! for the rock, the talk, the generous signature, and everything!
so back inside i'm once again hanging with rick miller. (i had dinner at the table next to him the other night, remember? ;-) well, not hanging so much as hanging on his every word as he proves my theory that the best are the BEST, and i realize as i'm handing the bartender a few bills to cover rick's beer, (i'd tell you what he ordered, but it'll stay a secret until you ask me in person), that i've had the privilege to have bought and had beers with some of the most remarkable musicians i know. (i won't brag--it's not nice--but just ask me, i'll tell you--there have been a lot of 'em). rick finds the right sharpie, signs the shirt with a beautiful little cartoon of a moonshine jug on it, and i'm just about the happiest guy you know right about then and still now.
best night out in a long time, or at least since last saturday.
tonight? serial thrillers at the hard rock.
and, yeah, i've bought paul ortalano a beer, and you can just be as jealous about that as you want. and you can probably buy him one yourself later tonight. you just have to be there.
life is good.
Labels: dave hartman, mary huff, music, rick miller, southern culture on the skids