So, it was a really, really long night. And there were some pretty painful moments. People, I mean – in case we need this reinforced out there… are really not at their finest when they’re drunk, and by the end of the night, just about everyone at this place was pretty smashed. It just wasn’t pretty – the first time I’ve been in such a stereotypical bar situation in a long time.
But there were shining moments. A couple of people came forward and were really, really helpful, full of information and advice – we ended up asking from the stage for a place to stay for the night, and though we got lots of offers, there was only one we felt comfortable following up on.
The host for the night, Chelsea, and her partner, Beau. They were beautiful. Beau looks like the kind of guy who was going to have a rough as razors, beaten, blown voice. But he opened his mouth and butterflies came out. Sweet and lilting, he has an incredible range, and I think both Heather and I fell for him immediately.
Chelsea is the younger of the two, nineteen and hauntingly beautiful in an art-school kind of way. She’s a nymph, or something, with a contagious smile and energetic voice. We go home with them, spend the night on their couches, learn new bathroom rules (can’t flush the toilet more than once every ten minutes), and get licked by their dog.
Heather’s gotten more dog-Love in the past 48 hours than she’s ever received in her Life.
Mariposa is playful, Loving, and Lovely. We sleep with all of our parts carefully tucked under blankets. Any exposed flesh is set upon and explored thoroughly, and we spend the night talking and swapping thoughts and thinkings and “tips for the road” – though… what wisdom we REALLY have to pass along, sometimes I wonder (especially after the nights where we sell NOTHING!!! sigh.)
But last night was really one of the nights where I was reminded what I really Love about what we’re doing. Beau and Chelsea were beautiful, and young, and kind, and happy. And they had a happy dog.
This morning was slow and sleepy and sunny, and everyone’s happy…
Happy until Mari got up and got into the trash.
The housemate, Nat (yes – Nat n Beau), gets up. Our only exposure to him the previous night was a couple of screams from the neighbouring bedroom – the death of his character in Zelda, apparently.
He’s checking for hints on the internet to beat whatever digital nemesis he’s facing (“SHIT! I’m going to have to roll the cup across the gap!!”), and wrestles with the dog, throwing her around, grabbing the tale, and mercilessly causing joy in her Life. Finally she steps away for a breather, only to find the rug she’s standing on being dragged back by her opponent, and she’s wrapped in his embrace again.
Kisses ensue… and then came the moment of horror:
“What you been eatin? What you been eatin?!? Spaghetti?!? Chicken parmesan?!? YEAH!! Gimme some of that!!” – Nat has detected the chicken parmesan on Mari’s tongues… and goes after it. s h u d d e r.
Anywho, we’re home now, and I’m feeling powerful. The cold is mostly done with me, and we played everything crazy fast last night, and we sort of jammed this morning before we left. I got clumsy because I was showing off, but I Love playing fast… yum. I think we’re going to sit back and shoot the shit with Justin, watch movies, and wait for the snow.
Sunday started with an excellent practice session – despite ice and snow, ilyAIMY came together and worked out some hairy spots on LooseN, Choke Cherry, and a couple of other tunes – just jamming around for half the night as well. We spent the night at Alfred’s in preparation for our trip south the next day.
Alfred’s very particular about his space, and I don’t think he even knows how much he likes company until he gets it. But I spent a long time in the basement, pacing back and forth, reacquainting myself with my five-string, while watching Al work Photoshop – he’s a true painter with it, and it’s just a pleasure to watch him work the application. I know that probably sounds pretty nerdy – but there’s such beauty in watching someone do what they do best – and he makes mouse and keyboard commands sing with the elegance of glaze and paint.
Originally an airbrush artist – Airbrushing has a special mechanical finesse – all one finger on the nozzle, one on the trigger, rocking the controls back and forth – like playing a flute almost. It’s something I never mastered, but Al brought that grace to a PC. It’s beautiful to watch.
Monday was rough though – it started so beautiful, with Tristan sitting in a sunbeam, and my toes flirting back and forth with … cold tile in shade… warm tile in sun… cold tile… warm tile… cold tile…
Driving out into the cold sun, squinting South-bound and heading to Richmond – I felt we played so well at Riverdale’s Used Bookshop a couple of days back – I was filled with high spirits and optimism. But that sort of came tumbling down a little with a disappointing booking conversation and traffic.
Fortunately, the open mic went really well – but… oh yeah, we didn’t sell but one CD.
It was a rough Monday. The only thing that’s been keeping me going is the warm sunshine of Chelsea and Beau. They just radiate kindness and… stuff. Maybe it’s the hippie inside of them – Beau’s song “Unexpected Guests” totally explains their attitude towards us.
Part of it, I’m sure, is the fact that we are Living the Dream – we are where they want to be in a couple of months, travelling with guitars and songs and the kindness of strangers.
On Luck on Fumes on Spit on Love – it may be my lyric, but Heather really couldn’t have chosen a better title.
Today we went to lunch at a Western-themed restaraunt that I think Heather’s Dad would have really Loved. I had an amazing crab-cake sandwich, and admired the Christmas decor mixed with old wooden farm equipment and hanging six-shooters.
We came back and played music, half-practicing for tomorrow, half just sort of jamming around. Heather and Chelsea’s voices twined to make a bizarre Indigo Girls-esque version of “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns N Roses.
For dinner we went over to Chelsea’s parents’ house and ate the best pizza I’ve ever had… and then played more music. Chelsea’s dad is a pretty talented guitar player, and we had a great time running through our own songs, some Chelsea and Beau tunes, and a couple of random covers. I got to play her Dad’s Paul Reed Smith, and his new acoustic bass. For as much as I dislike Tacoma guitars, their basses are wonderful creatures.
Through out the night, I’m wandering through the house, noting microscopes, tiny tiny anvils, miscellaneous tool benches and miniscule tools – and I’m trying to figure out what this man does for a Living – it turns out he’s a jeweller, and he showed me his photo portfolio, and dragged out a bunch of old pieces – incredible work. From modern rings to Celtic knots, all sorts of gold and silver and jewels. Beautiful things.
That’s when it was revealed that the harp in the next room was his new project. It’s a beautiful instrument – he’s thinking of moving on to guitars soon. I’ll be excited to come back and see how THAT goes.
Ok – enough typing out of me, I know that enough has happened and I’ve been slacking enough that I’m just sort of stating facts, and not putting the artistry into it that I should be. I feel bad when I type like that. I think I might just be interested in reading and going to bed.
We played Chopstix last night with Chelsea and Beau – and had a spectacular time. Though the venue itself was kind of… unfortunate (they paid $80 to play there? the place wouldn’t let us into set up for a 10pm show till 9.30? They still charged me a dollar for a soda?!?) they gig itself was soo much fun. I’m going through recordings of the night now. A whole lot of tuning on Chelsea’s part.
Erf. I hate sorting the recordings.
The night was really wonderful, and I think I fell in Love with ALL of their friends. Just really good people. AND Sandy showed up – Sandy of the long blonde hair and the beauty and the wonder and the oh my God she’s so wonderful. A really fantastic night. The only thing that marred it was a fantastically intense bout of stomach discomfort that struck midway through Matador. My capacity for playing guitar almost audibly just vanished. I started losing some notes, a whole verse in Spiral, and we clipped a song as I just started feeling too sick to play. Cursed microwave white-sauce lasagna.
A good night, but a rough one. Oof.
Today, I’m feeling a lot better, but worrying about the time I’m wasting on the computer. The logistics of recording a night, taking photographs, organizing the recordings (both audio and visual), writing about it… setting it up in the web page… burning versions of it for the computer-bereft Chelsea n Beau… pleh.
We stayed up till 5am hanging out with one of their friends that had popped by after the gig, and then I’ve sort of wasted the whole day sitting here fooling with all this shit.
But the recordings of C&B turned out half-decent, and… well, when we stay with anyone for any length of time, there’s always the question of how we can possibly return the favour. In this case, I’m feeling pretty good about myself, because they’ll probably be able to get a little make-shift CD out of the night’s recordings, and that might help them with making rent.
Heather’s on the verge of finishing a new song – a beautiful almost war song. Unfortunately, I’m probably going to end up calling it the Chupacabra song. The reason for this will become more apparent once she finishes it and we start playing it out.
listening to Led Zepplin – the BBC sessions
Boredom is threatening to take its toll. We’re watching Jeopardy. Sigh.
with the pot” – I returned to the Lloydholme exhausted, elated, and relieved. It doesn’t FEEL like July. It’s grey and the air conditioning lets us forget what kind of temperature might be lurking outdoors. Chelsea’s dad doesn’t sleep. I’m seeing morning for what feels like the first time in weeks. Months. And the grey weather is keeping my eyes from glistening with consciousness.
9.30am and Chuck and David are up and frolicking in their morningness – David’s making bacon, and Chuck is talking about amplifiers and guitars and African rhythms. I’m just not ready for it yet.
My thoughts are still whirling from that kiss. Damn you Jason. Damn you Slanga.
Says it all really. I don’t even remember why it happened. But Jason kissed me. He needs to quit smoking before he gets any more sugar from me.
Yesterday was a long day. The yardsale, making food, preparing for the night. I had my first art opening in four years. It was an incredible night.
The opening itself, at the 1448 Gallery, was a great success. Michael Vain and Kali were just – immensely wonderful to invite me to show with them, and then to have the opportunity to play as well… Audrey and I once had a show like that, at a Borders Books. Her watercolours covered half the space, and my scary scritch art covered the other half, and then we played a show at the end of the month, with her in front of her work, and me in front of mine. I remember it being a Lovely night. I did something similar in a gatehouse show back in the Commons at MICA, and then again at the Moon Cafe in Annapolis, but eventually the shows petered out because I was having too much work stolen.
So now I’m reinvigourated. The show went so well – not many familiar faces, but a decently filled room – and the faces that WERE familiar were old favourites. It was strange to think that Kali and Terri and Michael have known me from the Beginning. Back when I ONLY played shows at the Rabbit and the New Deal Cafe, they came to each of those shows, and encouraged me with accolades and cake. It’s strange to think that it’s been so long, back from the Audrey era.
It was good to see Michael, usually so serious and unapproachable, really getting into Will – rocking out in the back of the room. It’s one thing when one can move the audience, but when one can move the artists around you – and KEEP moving them years after their first exposure – that made me feel really powerful. Like I was accomplishing something GREAT.
Terri watched from the back, like she always does. She’s an unobtrusive willowy creature of eye-contact and hair. My parents are the opposite – smack-dab in the middle of the room, my mother mouthing the words. Yeah, a room full of People from the Beginning. It felt like some sort of anniversary, or a birthday, or … I don’t know. Very much a celebration of accomplishment.
It was almost like a big thank you show to the people who’d REALLY supported me over the years. Longer than almost anyone else, with the exception of Amy. The room felt incomplete until I noticed that my portrait of Amy had been set unobtrusively against the wall, facing the stage. The beautiful Raven Jen even appeared from my past and wandered in near the end of the night.
A very good night.
And then we had to race to PLOJ.
I don’t think I’ve ever been very late to PLOJ before. I usually aim to get there by 4, and I’ve frequently been later than THAT – but I don’t think I’ve ever arrived AFTER things had gotten started. Until last night.
It was bizarre walking into things Already In Progress. It was hard having to greet everyone all at the same time, rather than getting my greet on one by one as people straggle in. All in all, I’d say it was probably (as much as I hate to say it) my least favourite PLOJ. Very formless, meandering, drum heavy… and a pathetic spread. Almost no food at ALL! Thank God my tabouli rocked as hard as it always does. Thank God Dan’s chili was as scrumptious as it was… thank Richard and Kelly for THEIR chili. And of course, Mara’s chocolate chip cake. I guess, really when it comes down to it… that made everything okay.
With PLOJ XXIX ending at 2.30am or so, returning to the Lloydholme with the Kerwaths in tow (Chelsea and Beau and Chelsea’s WHOLE family!!) and being awakened by David making breakfast at 9am (no complaints mind you, some of the finest bacon I’ve ever had… but 9.30 am isn’t REALLY a time to me anymore) – today’s band practice was a threat on my personal horizon. I was eager for it, but going INTO practice exhausted isn’t a good start.
Because of random circumstances, Heather and I actually end up arriving at Sharif’s house for practice separately. I navigate my car into his little Bowie neighbourhood, pick my parking space with care, and avoid a tiny obstacle.
A tiny, grey, furry obstacle. Rumpled fur and a trail of viscera that stretches almost to the curb – there’s very little in the world that’s as sad as a roadkill kitten, and I was thankful that I’d gotten there ahead of Heather. I knew it would break her heart to see the tiny body, and I didn’t know WHAT to do. It was right in front of the house, and there was no way she was going to miss it when she arrived – Sharif didn’t have a shovel or anything, and I’m not of SUCH a strong constitution that I’m able to pick up a dead kitten and throw it in the trash, or even a bush.
I’m not sure if I did the right thing. When the neighbours weren’t looking I stole a big empty pot from the yard and overturned it over the kitten in the middle of the street. It’s not the right thing, really – but it meant that Heather wouldn’t see it, and no-one else was going to smear it further along the street.
The pot wasn’t QUITE large enough, and the emotions that roiled through me when I felt the giving squish as I set it down on the kitten’s tail are indescribable and unpleasant.
Band practice itself was fantastic. A great day spent with friends, jamming on music that you Love. That’s the way band practice is SUPPOSED to be, and I don’t think it’s BEEN that way for a long time. It’s made me all the more eager for Tuesday’s Funk Box show. I was fearful everytime that Heather stepped outside – I was afraid she’d move the pot, but I didn’t want to tell her, and I couldn’t just say “don’t mess with the pot” – I returned to the Lloydholme exhausted, elated, and relieved.
Oh my God. Richmond was beautiful – we wandered Carytown for a couple of hours, hunting beetles and relief from the heat. Today I discovered the wonder that is Minute Maid Limeade. We scrounged steel from the streets, and pawed through antique shops and found keys and wires and kittens. In good spirits, we packed up the car and headed to Hell.
The AC didn’t kick on. Maybe a bit of cool air for a moment, but it evaporated in the summer oven heat of the Saturn interior. Gasping for breath, we wrap Heather’s headscarf around the steering wheel so that it can be touched by human hands. Two blocks later the scarf has screwed so far into the steering column that Heather can barely park at the 7-Eleven. Shredding the fabric with my knife wrests control back from the scarf, but fifteen minutes out of Richmond, the car is over-heating. We balance the engine temperature by watching the guage and switching from AC to HEAT depending on what will drive the temperature down at any given moment… The venue that we plan to play in Raleigh doesn’t open until 9pm so we can’t get through to them on the phone to confirm anything. Upon arrival, we find that Pantana Bob’s is now a private club and doesn’t allow outsiders in. We search for food and get caught at every stop light in the city as the car creeps to redline….
I’m almost in tears as we eat a Lovely Quizno’s dinner, and then I realize that the place we’re crashing tonight isn’t in Raleigh after all, but in Durham.
Though the car’s temperature remains semi-stable, we leave the AC off so as not to worry ourselves, discover that the exit we need to take has been closed, miss a turn during the detour, and pull in to Durham only to realize that we’ve left our gas cap in Nashville.
We’re in …. well, no, I don’t actually know WHERE we are. We played Richmond, Virginia tonight – a bar called Cafe Diem. Tonight we’re staying with Chelsea and Beau, and we’re turning in exhausted in the middle of nowhere, the woods and forests south of Petersburg, just short of the North Carolina border.
Today did not start as a good day. Between the bitter cold and an ice-caked driveway, even just loading the car was a bit more onerous than it should’ve been. Then there was an oil change that needed doing, and CDs that needed burning, and money that needed depositing and nails that needed purchasing. All in all, we left Owings Mills an hour and a half later than planned and managed to hit DC rush hour, Richmond rush hour, and a hideous clog of coagulated red brake lights the whole ride south on 95. It was a long, long drive.
And yet, look… o – ok… if Heather ever wants to describe the distraction that just took place, I’ll let her… but… what the HELL was I thinking about.
And yet, looking at the clock, the drive only took us about 3.5 hours – but there’s something about a drive that crosses the sunset barrier. We drive good at night. We drive good during the day. But cross the threshold into darkness (as we are wont to do) and it suddenly feels like we’ve added a full day to the drive.
Sketch for Cafe Diem:
My rememberance of Cafe Diem is a sign sitting on the sidewalk with a chalked reminder that “Monday is open mike night”. I noted that, remembered it months later, looked it up, and decided that we’d check it out the next time the proper planets aligned. I was under the impression that it was a coffee house.
We walked into dark decor, smoke-laden dimness, and impression of wood and glass. High, central, semi-crowded bar, no musicians in evidence – it wasn’t what I was expecting, and I was suddenly dreading the night. I was fearful of a night full of covers and loud conversations and grizzled old men coming on to Heather.
Our experiences in Richmond bars so far have NOT been positive.
We found that we were an hour and a half early for the open mic, and we sat down to think about our time, and what we had done. The bartender came over and gave us menus, and slowly my opinion turned. There was an aura… something in the quality of the cloth on the tables, or perhaps just the TYPES of food offered… not typical bar fare, but high-endish sounding sandwiches… something spoke to me. I felt that we could risk it… we asked about the soup… and then we ventured further. We asked about ginger ale and then about sandwiches and french fries and bread.
I won’t try to go into descriptions, mostly because the focused recollection would leave me puddling drool onto the surface of my laptop.
Go to Richmond. Go to Cafe Diem. Eat the gumbo. That’s all I have to say about that.
And then the guitars started filing in. I was surprised how the night filled out. Perhaps eating my last fry was some sort of signal – but like gamers converging on the lone female Klingon at a con – musicians came out of the woodwork and flooded in. Guitar after guitar, a keyboard, a cello, eventually a drumkit.
It turned into a really good night – we met a lot of people, reencountered some old friends from long ago Richmond trips. No hat-players this time around – but s’ok…
Well, I am sorry that there haven’t been a lot of posts recently – and it’s not because we’ve been home and there’s nothing happening. I guess a lot of what’s happening though, it isn’t really Journal stuff. Whether it’s the private romantic adventures of Valentine’s Day or the more intense struggles going on around me, it’s stuff for my friends and family, and not really something I want to share on a big public forum.
At the moment, Heather and I are hanging out in the DC Metropolitan area, bouncing between my parents’ house and Rowan’s place and College Perk. We’ve been working on new promotionals, the new studio album, booking for the spring and summer… all sorts of stuff on the ilyAIMY front, and then the rest of our Lives is being hungrily devoured by the aforementioned friends and family. I Love it. I’m exhausted, but it almost feels like a vacation, just to be able to see certain people…
The mysterious box – we passed this on the Beltway and we have no idea what could’ve been in it. We fear it may have been a mysterious Ark. Or something.
Monday night was Valentine’s Day… Tuesday morning we got up (late) and slowly made our way over to Rowan’s place to have a band meeting.
Now, with previous incarnations, there seemed to be many band meetings – every practice turned into vast discussion, but Heather and I are ALWAYS talking business, and I think we’re so focused on what the two of us want and plan and desire that we often forget that we should really be including Rowan and Sharif in the process. Monday night we corrected that. There was a lot of “what do you want” and “how do you feel”… budgeting and scheduling and idea-flinging. All of it was really positive, and most of it was exactly what I thought, it’s just that I wanted everything said outloud.
Basically, yup, we all want to be rockstars. Something like that.
We started working out our ideas for the new studio album, started working out the tracklist and the physical way that we’re going to pull it all off. Heather and I sometimes forget how hard it can be to integrate people’s work and school schedules into things – for us it’s pretty much “are we booked? Nope? Ok.”
It was a good meeting, though we never got around to playing any music, I think we were all kind of relieved just to sort of hang out and bounce ideas off of one another.
So – can we raise the funds to do a studio album? And past that, can we find the time to do it this spring? I’m hopeful but a little bit frightened. We’ll see how things work out. We try our hardest, and then try a little bit harder, and then we look around to see where we’ve gotten.
Yesterday just seemed a ball of endless stress, endless lateness, endless falling behind. I bought a Breedlove from Rowan at the House of Musical Traditions… normally purchasing a guitar is a process of falling in Love and finding the money – but this was much more a matter of me having fallen in Love with a type of guitar (Breedlove dreadnoughts) and then trying to make a decision from the creatures available on the rack. It was a pretty arduous process which actually culminated in Rowan blindfolding me and handing guitars to me and having me play them.
Using that process I’ve ended up purchasing a gorgeous rosewood Breedlove AD25 which we then took to play out at Steve Key’s Stella’s singer/songwriter showcase in Alexandria, VA. There I was so rattled by its sound that we quite failed to make a very impressive showing of ourselves.
At this point, I could include some angst about music world politics and about some of the things that are REALLY exhausting me right now, but… I can’t, because that wouldn’t be… “wise”. Politically. Yeah – this is the side of my profession that I really despise.
And yet, was that different in any job I’ve held? At the Science Centre there were still people you couldn’t screw with, and working as a teacher there certainly was a Way The World Worked…. at Glovia there were internal politics that I was thankfully shielded from by the twin angels of Jerry and distance. (yeah, definately the first time Jerry’s every been referred to as an angel, as I’m sure he’d agree)… I even managed to piss off people at Borders by being too outspoken – to the point that rather than allow my CD to get up on the “Local Artists” racks, the manager suddenly decided that his was the one store that wasn’t going to carry such a section.
Power and the abuse thereof. People speaking and people not being able to take criticism. Yeah, I’m probably included in that.
Ok – I’m done bitching – and in case there’s ANY confusion on this, go see my Musicians Resource Page on Corky’s – I just don’t want anyone ELSE to get offended by my non-specificity since I’m just tired of it. I’m writing too much as it is, which is the danger of having this delightful little precipice. I through myself headfirst of the ledge of my Journal all the time.
So – we’re going to get out of here and go play the Austin Grill (thank you Steve Key for handing that one to us). Let’s go bury ourselves in our trade.
Heather’s taken on my parents’ house. Well… the Living room. She Loves projects and is having a ball sorting and moving and shifting stuff. The record so far is a piece of paper from 1989.
So, I’m folding Myxomatosis Took Its Toll (the booklet sort of neccessitates that we make it by hand) and Heather’s sorting and the cats are Loving the new places discovered/uncovered and we’re both watching old Disney movies. My Dad comes in and out as he’s been sleeping poorly and totally fails to be enthralled by either the Jungle Book OR Beauty and the Beast.
Sigh – anywho, it’s 3.04am and I’m sleepy. We played the Austin Grill tonight and it was the first time I think ANY singer/songwriter has actually caught the attention of any sizable portion of that room. It’s good to be recognized by the bartender and to see that the staff are glad to have us back. A guy came out to see us after having caught us on a local access cable show and so by drips and drabs we slowly work our way up in the world. Free food ALWAYS makes me feel like we’re up and coming.