We finally left after pulling a XXX scene – NO not meaning between Heather and me – referring to the whole having a huge pile of stuff on the ground, looking at the car and saying “I want all that… in there.” You know, like in the movie.
Again, soo much sigh. Packing up the Kensington house (thank GOD for the help from Heather and my parents) took far longer than it should’ve, and somehow we ended up with a huge mountain of trash outside the house. I’m not quite sure where it all came from – must’ve been Jack – methinks.
The first night was originally going to be a really big open mic called Grape Street in Philly, but they were closed for Labour Day, so we figured.. eh… we’ll wait a day and catch our breath.
A lot of things have been conspiring against us – between the holiday and general bloody-mindedness, Verizon’s DSL is STILL not cut off to the house, and there are a couple of other stupid real-world SHIT things that I haven’t taken care of yet. I keep telling my self that it’ll work out. As of now, I’m doing all the driving too, cause Heather needs to practice stick before we’re really ready to turn things over to her.
Not only that, but the CDs are late. We were going to Live off those CDs!!! They won’t arrive till Friday back home, so we won’t get them till we get back on the 16th (or whatever) … sigh. Oasis is trying their best, I guess, and they’re knocking a lot of money off AND sending a bunch to Heather’s friend Jayson. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I’m a little worried that we won’t be able to fit them in the car for the drive home.
So, in the meantime, we’ve been working crazy hard to get the rob n Heather album done – on Luck on Fumes on Spit on Love. We did recordings at Jeremy’s just before leaving, and now we’re desparately trying to put together an album out of that and some other scattered tracks.
The second night out we really fell on our feet – I met a guy about two years ago at the Riverdale Bookstore – and he’s been on the mailing list ever since! Shane has put us up at his dormroom in Philadelphia, and has been amazingly kind, knowledgable – a slow smile and a soft voice. When I asked if we could stay with him, he responded with “fanboy butterflies” – his roommate’s been away for a while, and we get his bed!
Anywho – staying with Shane has been fantastic. He’s fed us and guided us through the Hellish complexities of the Philadelphia tube stations.
Wandering wandering wandering – we must’ve walked the whole length of Philly today. Took pictures of the Drexel Dragon to use for the new album cover, and did the artwork for that. Unfortunately, the open mic we were going to hit tonight didn’t technically exist anymore – so the trolley trip and the tonnes o walkin was all for naught. However, we DID end up having genuine Philly cheesesteaks for dinner – and the amazonish lass behind the counter let us have some free pretzels at the end of the night…. Came back and finished up oLoFoSoL’s artwork, started printing it, started working on this journally thing.
It’s crazy, my work ethic is SOO much better now. (Weird, Heather just found a quote from Coal Boulder sitting on Hot or Not.com as part of some woman’s profile) Or at least, it has been for the past few days. Get up every morning and it’s right to ilyAIMYishness. I’m worried I might become a workaholic, but that’s ok, right?
Morning comes, Heather snores. I’ve been at it for two hours and my Life is made Hell by SoBig and junk mail. I’m trying to figure out how to cut down on the number of worms arriving in my mailbox (like, about 30 an hour) and in the process have so far fucked up my email, deleted ilyaimy.com (twice), erased my on-disc back up. Sigh. It’s been a rough morning – but now things are running smoothly, printing shit all over the place, covering Shane’s room with mis-printed CD labels, generally making a mess and eating really stale pretzels.
Tonight we’re going to an open mic that required a very complex web form sign-up thingie. Intimidating indeed. At least we’ll know that anyone who’s there can reach our website.
Ok, enough of this, I’ve made a journal, and it might even work, though now I’m worried about stylesheets n shit. Sigh.
<– Audience at the Point. Incredible open mic. Singing anime cellist, beautiful art – another guitarist with A CHEETAH CASE!!!, spectacular female pianist, cool sort of slap jazz harpist… great place.
Well, I must admit, I’m worried about what it all means. Last night’s open mic – we wandered about a mile through the underbelly of the gallery district of Philadelphia, only to find that the “Lionfish Arts Cafe” had been closed and remodeled into some sort of Italian restaurant.
Tonight, the spot we were GOING to hit had cancelled their open mic for the summer. So, we call about half a dozen places looking for an open mic that DOES exist. Find one in the Music Box – a music school in New Jersey. We drive over to that (GORGEOUS suspension bridge, lost in mist) spot only to discover that a) New Jersey really DOES smell as bad as they say, b) there is actually a posh section of New Jersey, and c) the woman who said “why yes, Thursday’s open mic is on, it’s the best night of the week” was completely, and utterly misinformed.
There are no left turns or Uies allowed in the whole of the state. You have to drive OUT of the state to turn around and go back to where you came. Or they shoot you. We had eaten Philly Cheese Steaks in Philadelphia, so I tried to lick a Jersey Barrier in Jersey. Heather wouldn’t let me – and we had to have sushi instead.
We’re back in Philadelphia, visiting Shane, the ULTIMATE. We’ve landed on his doorstep and he’s hooked us up with everything from directions to the Grape Street Pub to a copy of Earthworm Jim. I’m not sure what demands I’ll make as a full-fledged rock-star someday, but I can’t imagine they’ll include much other than transport to the next show and a little EWJ.
Anywho, wireless at Drexel sucks, so the website is probably going to have to wait even LONGER before getting updated. Also – it’s becoming apparent that I’d rather write in this damned journal rather than do something productive, like deal with all of the song parts in my head. So, I think I’m prolly going to try and limit myself to 15 minutes in the morning, and 15 minutes at night. Otherwise I’ll just sit here all day, tapping aboot crap.
So, anywho, back at Drexel University. Full of flying dragons. I’m assuming, actually, that dragon guano is the reason for the wireless being so crappy (if you’ll pardon the wee pun…. oh, and that one too). There’s only so much flying drake fecal matter a network can take.
Rhode Island’s response was nothing short of spectacular – we met so many fantastic people, and encountered so much music, I’m sort of prepared for Grape Street tonight to be sort of a let down… but actually getting back to Shane’s dorm – that was a lot of fun. We encountered Reptar (the new lizard – should I put that on the website? What if his RA becomes a fan?), who is currently cricketless, and therefor out of sorts… and Ian – the Brian McClimmensesque room-mate who helped me fix my stupid graphics card issues, and Ryan, who I believe Shane thrashed with a broom later in the evening.
Ryan’s another aspiring vocalist guitarist, great voice. But the broom treatment, I don’t know – it might be a bit rough.
I miss college a lot, really. I miss the camaraderie that comes with roommates, the wrestling and tussling and strange strange humour (funnily enough, the same stuff you grow out of in high school is the same stuff you rediscover in college) – so we did what I did in college, and sort of beat the shit out of each other till someone called from next-door and told us that if we didn’t keep it down he’d “hang us with our own intestines”. Heee… them’s was the good ole days.
We’re back at Shane’s for the weekend – we arrived in Philadelphia last night and went out to get about $125 worth of sushi – blowing our budget (but at least it was between five people!) but it was soo nice. I think the only thing I didn’t appreciate about the place was the absolute obscene cold of the bathroom. Oh yes, hard to aim with when shrivelege is not just a privilege, but a God damned fact of Life. Anywho – the morning has been filled with firedrills. It’s moments like these that separate the folk stars from the ROCK stars. I had ear-plugs with me. After the second or third one, I just slept on through.
The offensive nature of the fire alarm was only slightly offput by the fact that Ray showed up on our… well, Shane’s doorstep. (Shane just got home!!! yay!) He crashed on the couch, we got the floor, Life was good.
Ray brought two care-packages and a birthday present for Heather – I was amazed. The gestures of sweetness that exist in the world are possibly all overshadowed by Ray in one evening.
One of the care packages was actually from our friend Janna – including tea and soup and a mummy Pez dispenser that glows in the dark, as well as hot chocolate and stuff and other stuff…. it’s nicely decorated on the outside with the beauty of Crayola – allowing us a look at beautiful blue Maryland skies and blooming wild-flowers.
Ah, the lying glories of home – she’s just trying to tempt us back into the state so that she can get us to submit to her wanton and dark desires. We know our Janna all too well!
Ray brought us toilet paper and cookies, and a tonne of Cherry Coke for Heather – but on top of the box full of road supplies, he also handed Heather a CD booklet – it took him two shifts plus at his job at Kinkos, but he had made copies of about 40 CDs and given them to Heather to help her on her way in rebuilding her collection after the break-in in New York. The gramatically incorrect nature of my last sentance doesn’t come close to getting across how Heather glowed while she was showing this to me.
And finally, we have a copy of the Buffy Musical.
Ray has always been a God-send, and he’s just cementing himself as a neccessary part of our Lives. If we could get Brennan up here in the same weekend, we’d have all of the creatures that make ilyAIMY GO. Between Ray and Shane and Brennan we could run a successful tour, a record label, and possibly a small studio.
I was trying to decide which of their super-powers would be most useful if we had to pick one: we could have…
SHANE!!! This mild-mannered college student has neatly cropped hair and flying, flashing, computer controlling fingers. His powers lie in his supernatural talent for knowing what to do when dropped in any situation – as a college student, he can make a home in any environment, can instantly learn the layout of any public transit system, as well as the arcane processes in making them go. He’s also well connected in the foetid underground of Indie music. Sidekick: Reptar “oh, he’s such a peaceful lizard of death”.
BRENNAN!!! Wired and wirey, Brennan knows the tech side of music quite well. Give him a cord and he’ll untangle it, identify it, and plug it into what it bloody well ought to be plugged into. He changes strings and tunes guitars and knows chords that I don’t know yet. Also includes an encyclopedia of covers and their lyrics, and drives like a fucking maniac in the city – an ideal skill for anyone who attempts to navigate New York City in a motor vehicle. He has unnaturally superb reflexes and can fit his car through miniscule spaces, and has the nerve to compete with Big Apple Cabbies.
aaand…. RAY!!! Well, what else to say about Ray? He’s very, very nice – (I’m sure that’s masking barely contained rage and insanity – but that makes him an even BETTER superhe- I mean… roadie) – is a seasoned traveller, and no matter what, takes the world in stride. I’m amazed by his consistant calm. He’s also willing to break people’s arms for us, which may be very useful if we ever plan to get into the REAL music industry. Also, a pretty damned good parallel parker, but I’m not sure who would win in the city driving department. I think Brennan would run over Ray’s Rio without pausing for breath… hrmm….
Really, a triumvirate is always a responsible configuration for a superhero force. I think the three should join forces and come up with a good name. Or maybe THEY are the ilyARMY. Gosh, I wish we were at that level where we could fund them on the road with us. Another Saturn, perhaps – jet black with red flames up the si- wait, I want the one with the flames, to match my boots…
and then we’d either have some weird command trailer (with satellite internet hookup and a potato gun turret). We’ll have to drop a V8 in the Saturn to keep our acceleration up with the ilyARMY command trailer (it’ll unfold into something insane a la MASK)… ew… gotta get Reptar off of Heather’s face…
— Later that same day– We’re travelling out of Philly back to Media, PA. We have a Ray and a Shane in tow, perhaps we’ll set tasks for them and test them here and there.
As I almost turn us a wrong direction, I get worried again, and frustrated with myself. Maps aren’t hard, laptop maps should be even easier, and yet I’ve made a consistant habit of making wrong turns at least once on every trip. Wests and Easts and rights and lefts, I’m worried that I keep making really stupid mistakes.
I can’t imagine how anyone does this solo. I can’t imagine trying to navigate and drive all at the same time, without a whole lot more preparation anywho. Thank God Heather’s relatively patient.
I broke two strings while playing Hands the other night with Hugh McGowan on djembe. Yup. I’m a badass.
Last night, the world had conspired against us. Last minute things were lost, Magic games were lost, so I had to play again, and devillishly slippery ice had encroached upon the surface of the world…
“Heather – watch out for the ice at the bottom of the drive- oh.”
And so I was discouraged and disheartened and made a half-assed effort to tell Heather we should wait another day. Rather than race all the way to Philadelphia and probably miss sign-up for the open mic we wanted to hit, the slacker in me whispered that we should wait around Maryland for another night.
Thank God Heather slapped me down on that one.
It’s what I need in a partner – when the going gets tough, I often get a little timid and whimpery, and I need the partner who’s going to say “nope – we’re DOING it”… just as I do for Heather on her bad days. So far it’s worked, and we’ve steadily been one another’s inspiration.
Anywho – on to Philadelphia. T’was an easy drive. We were waylaid by traffic just out of Baltimore, and again by a truckfire somewhere in Delaware, but we made it into Manayunk at 10.01pm for a 10pm sign-up, and we got a decent slot.
The Dawson Street Pub – from the moment I saw it, I Loved it. Just from the fact that there were beautiful cars parked around it – with tribal painted hoods and exotic makes. Still decorated for Christmas, it was incredibly inviting, and the interior was packed.
The Dawson Pub caused Manayunk to climb an extra rung on my “places I’d like to Live” ladder.
The music was really great, and – once a particularly noisy table finally left (much to the relief of the regulars) the crowd was a real listening crowd. I was amazed that such a packed room was so attentive. The place definately shot to the top of my list of “coolest venues”, and we pestered the host, “My Cousin Todd” about playing a night there. If we made a couple of friends in the area, we might even do ok.
A fantastic night. I wish we’re gotten to Philadelphia early enough that we could have gone and picked up our benefactor, Shane, and brought him there. It was truly a spectacular night – and Shane would’ve Loved it – but unfortunately, it, like so many other places, is 21+.
A shame that Shane be so youthful.
We need to get him some sort of government pass that allows him into all nooks and crannies of the music world. Something, preferably, which also allows him to bring along a couple of college-aged friends.
We met a couple of really cool people, including Leigh – who played the house piano so’s you didn’t notice the 10 dead keys and the couple that were out of tune – and the host Todd – and a fantastic bass player who I can’t remember the name of off the top of my head but who did a fantastic version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand” on bass – all tapping and harmonics.
Despite the joy of the evening, we soon had to retire to Shane’s place, our home in Philadelphia. Parking was Hell, as usual, and 20 minutes of circling only landed us a spot 6 blocks away in an alley, which inspired us to call Shane and gather Ryan to help us get EVERYTHING of value out of the Saturn.
The government pass should also give Shane the power to freely and immediately have cars towed – he’d use his powers wisely, I’m sure…
And we collapsed into the waiting arms of Drexel hospitality. We shot the shit about shit for a couple of hours, before finally retiring at 3am (hey – rockstars have to be responsible, and put their friends to bed – Shane had work in the morning, Ryan had a MIDTERM at 8 this morning, and Ian – well… I’m not actually sure that Ian goes to class – I think he may be lurking around here now…).
I worry, because I think Heather is willing, now, after last night’s conversation, to grab me to come see any monumentally fantastic stool she may happen to produce.
I’m really not sure how down with that I am. I mean – if we start taking photographs, then they’ll end up in the Journal – so … well I guess it’s really the say of the readers… that’s probably a BIT TOO personal for you guys. Yeah?
Please say yes.
I went and looked on a map. Actually it’s NINE blocks. Sheesh, I hate parking in Philly.
Went out and played Donavan’s open mic tonight. It was alright. Not many performers, but a good night. We came back to Shane’s and did our parking space hunt. Found one pretty close to the dorms, but Heather had the hiccups and there was a cop giving a guy a parking ticket across the street. It was awesome. Heather was nervous and rocking the car back and forth and there was a whole lot of ice… and it’s like – shift shift shift (HICCUP) shift shift shift (HICCUP) FUCK!! shift shift…
The skies have taken on an intense density, glowering and threatening, and then doing more than just threatening – now it’s promising, and delivering.
I woke to the sound of rain. I can’t remember the last time I woke to the sound of rain. It’s been snow and ice for so long, just the mundanity of rain seems almost alien.
Despite the oxymoron, I continue to swear that I have a grip on the English language.
The dorm room hasn’t even lit up. You can’t tell that there’s a flaming ball of hydrogen in our skies for the day – it’s just a thorough blanket of grey. I’m hoping the temperature doesn’t fall below freezing – I want a nice easy drive back to Owings Mills.
Long time, no mention – nothing really to mention today, either. I think I’m just going to post a bunch of pictures and narrate a bit to make up for it. We’ve begun to get responses from the summer festivals, and we’re beginning to plan around such things as Pagan festivals in Ohio, and Singer/Songwriter barcrawls in Illinois.
I’ve been really sick for the past couple of days, caught something from Alfred last Tuesday. I helped him carry his drums into the gig that night, and he had something really nasty, and he shared.
So, I brought it home to Mara. And I think we shared it with Janna. The world’s been sick. Mitzi’s had food poisoning, Tyler’s been feeling poorly, Sharif threw up and Jon’s been depressed. Didn’t want to write about THAT… see?
Anywho, many things, including my 29th birthday, which was a whole lot of fun, one of my best ever. A WHOLE lot of Magic – almost nothing better to do when you’re feeling really poorly. Nothing to do but play Diablo and Magic… which, of course, is how Janna probably caught it. Sigh… Pestilence alll over. I sit here writing – Heather’s dad is running around with many a household chore – cleaning and replacing batteries, to the accompaniment of the Beatles. He keeps trying to give me fuzzy hats and camel hair coats – I try to explain…. it’s just not flannel. Sigh.
It turned out the open mic we were playing was actually run by a guy we knew from before – we’d met Rick at the Coffee Club (in Media? I think).
We sold a couple of CDs, and met some cool people – specifically – Dave – the Johnny Cash impersonator. Great Man in Black Covers. Very pleased.
The sound here was gorgeous, but other than that, I was kind of distracted by all the hockey.
Philadelphia didn’t treat us as well this time around, but I think a lot of that was attitude. We, of course, Loved hanging around with Shane, and he hooked me up with a new copy of Diablo II, which made my Life pretty complete, but – we hung around in Maryland because of my father’s cancer surgery, and that was kind of difficult. I’m just so glad that that’s over with. All that’s left is recovery…
“All that’s left” – I know it’s not that simple, but I have to think of it that way lest I just go crazy.
We didn’t get much out of the night – the crowd just couldn’t be distracted from their sporting events, but Soul Plane made up for everything. They were spectacular.
And JUST as both Heather and I were thinking “they could do awwwesome Led Zepplin covers” – they did. Not many bands can pull that off. They’re guitarist, specifically, would be capable of making Jimmy Page look up from his diabolist dabblings and say “whut?”
We came home for my birthday, the night after the gig with Soul Plane… I gloss over the whole me getting the address of the gig wrong, so we advertised the wrong address the whole week we were in Philly – and ended up at the wrong place ourselves… and God – it was a disaster.
But I got the coolest toy that ever existed for my birthday.
A Matrix Sentinal.
Now, the coolest gift EVER was what my Father gave me – successful cancer surgery while at the same time paying off the last of my school debt. It’s taken me 7 years, but it’s finally gone, and it’s an incredible feeling – but it’s harder to photograph.
It has been such a weird month. Back to the Dad in the hospital rambling – I went and visited while he was there, I was lucky enough to have Audrey come with me – and the hospital was dismal.
I don’t expect hospital patients to be cheerful and leaping and throwing back their sheets and jumping from bed to bed or anything – but I expect the damned hospital to be clean, and to be able to really understand the English of the nurses, and for the faucets to work, and for them to clean the spilled Jell-o off the floor. GW Hospital was just a multi-tiered lump of dinge. I was pretty disappointed with its existence in its entirety. Pretty fucking disgusted, to be truthful.
Later that night, we went back to Amy’s house and watched zombie movies and ate ravioli. It was probably my best birthday ever.
Expect typos, I’ve grown far too used to my own computer, and typing on any other machine is pretty alien to me. My pricey, custom-built Alienware 51m has failed me after only 7 months of use. A pretty complete death – by the time I was packing it off to Florida, it wasn’t even powering up. I was ready to cry.
Anywho, for those of you out there who are emailing me and suchnot and whatnot, that’s why I might be a bit slow about responding. I almost lost everything on my harddrive – luckily for me, my friends Allie and James – they had the POWER!!!
James got obsessed with my problem, and though it took him hours and hours of working and wiring and rewiring and a little bit of hacking – he finally got into my harddrive and got most of my data and saved it to DVD. Unfortunately, I have lost all of my email contacts and the emails themselves. It’s a frustration. I had a lot of old email from old girlfriends, not to mention Tyler’s old letters from when we were really flirty (back when I thought he was that cute little blonde).
I swapped RAM, I pulled my harddrive, I looked at a melted part of my motherboard. It was determined that a stick of RAM, my powersource, my display cardie thingie had all gone bad, as well as a corrupted user profile, and some other random disasterous stuff. I was pretty fucking pissed.
So, today it’s a long day of catching up, and trying to get Heather’s laptop to fill in the gap left by my machine’s unfortunate demise. In the background, the SciFi channel is running a classic Star Trek marathon, and based on their commercials, they seem to think that their viewership demographic is comprised mostly of women suffering from “feminine itch” as well as menopause… oh, and people looking for arthritis and denture creams.
That just doesn’t seem right.
Sigh, in the meantime – Captain Kirk’s body has been taken over by a chick. Most unfortunate.
I swear, when Heather wanders off to the next room, she misses the best stuff.
Brennan was having a very, very strange night. This was just a momentary evil face. I really, really think that he’s not as frightening as this photograph might, at first, suggest. It was really just gas. I’m assured of this fact.
Since moving to the College Perk, Brennan has gotten the added stress of being a half-a-PLOJ host, and frankly I’ve allowed MOST of the PLOJ hosting stresses slip to his shoulders. Actually, maybe THAT’s what that face is about.
The PLOJes have always been such fantastic gatherings. We’ve been running them for about five or six years now. We started on New Year’s Day back in 1999 – I was Living with Syl and Sara Smith and working as a freelance illustrator, doing a lot of random work for different telecommunications companies in Northern Virginia. I had just quit teaching high-school, and was really interested in finally persuing my Life as an artist.
Whatever type of artist I was going to be – visual or musical.
Syl had been the guy who had really inspired me towards music – before I was just a bass-player – but Syl inspired me to sing – mostly to impress him. I sort of feel weird, realizing that I started singing in high-school – but then became a bassplayer because I Loved being on stage so much… I learned to play guitar in order to impress Audrey – and then I really focused on being a singer/songwriter because of how much I admired Syl. Is anything I do self-motivated? Psh… don’t matter. I Love it anywho.
Off to Philadelphia and then Stroudsburg, PA… Tuesday night we continued our wanderings, and returned ourselves to the fine city of Brotherly Love. Shane welcomed us to Philadelphia, PA – where we played the Point before going back to the dorms of Drexel University.
The Point was bloody nightmarish. This was the place we went the first night of our Trip – and we’d been blown away by the talent and the overall feel of the place. Since then, we keep going back with fiercely high hopes – and keep getting disappointed. It was one of the most horrific nights … oh God. It was agony to sit through. I stood in the back lamenting with the host… wincing.
There were a couple of cool acts (we even ran into some friends that we’d met in Red Bank, NJ – Tommy Anton and I traded tour thoughts), but mostly it was just one of those nights that would never, ever end.
We crashed with Shane, and we played Halo. I didn’t die as much as I did last time, but there was no Slutty Tofu, either.
Wednesday we drove North up to East Stroudsburg University. Mapping it out, we realized that ESU was like… five miles away from the Deleware Water Gap.
There’s no reason to know of the Delaware Water Gap… of Minsi and Tamanee… calling me… except for an amazing Richard Shindell song – and Heather said that we had to go there, since we had the time. I plotted a new course and headed the car through Easton to the Delaware River. We wandered through some spectacular houses, some spectacular neighbourhoods – Heather’s asked me not to fill the Journal with pictures of the houses, but they’re gorgeous… I’m going to sit with those pictures flipping past me as I fall asleep tonight. I shall dream of Easton and their turreted houses and stone walls and fantastic things.
Poor Heather – after Easton, I look at her fine, fine figure… and think… “hey baby… nice roof. You’se a brick HOUSE.” Mmmmm.
The gig at Stroudsburg was very, very small. Above and around, you see pictures of literally half the audience. We had a rough night… a night that inspired me to sing “Bitches and Fuckheads”, which simply displayed what a good idea it is for me NOT to record every performance.
Sigh – anywho, we’re caught up, whether you like it or not. We could talk of the long long drive home, or of our deviations of course – lost on 83 South. We could talk of the New Deal Cafe open mic and the high point – Richard McMullin, and how much I Love listening to him play… or we could even talk of going to see Heather’s brother’s play tonight, “Bye Bye Birdie”, and why high school girls are the best screamers… but all in all, I think I shouldn’t.
Ah, to be the hero of half-empty small town bars, or to fight for attention in mid-time music halls? It’s the age-old question: is it better to be the big fish in the little pond or the other way around?
People make a lot of assumptions about us when we walk into a room. Some of it is the equivalent of locker-room verification – checking out and comparing the equipment. We carry nice gig bags, and a hand drum in a case, which is a rarity at most open mics.
When we unzip, people make judgments about us. Everyone does it. Nothing about us is flashy, but we look prepared. Prepared and traveled. I think of Takamines as the Saturn cars of the guitar world – Popular with the middle class, sensible, gets good mileage and handles well in all kinds of weather. And though the instrument does not always make the man, there is an assumption that people with good gear are good enough to know good gear, and then good enough to play it. This said, there is gear that everyone knows is good and buy as much for sound as status. These days, if somebody is playing a Taylor , about the only thing that suggests is that they could afford it.
Squires usually set off alarm bells in my head. Someone in here tonight has a Wal-Mart electric guitar that they picked up second-hand at a pawn shop. I am not sure if I should be afraid.
In bars like this, we know what to play. We know what compliments we will elicit. And we know that we will walk away with a couple dollars at best, a booking offer if the place regularly features music, but little else. It’s a quick fix, and the high wears off fast. But, if you get too egotistical and decide that places like this are beneath you, you will fight for people to give a damn somewhere else. The rewards might be bigger there, the compliments of greater weight, the CD sales more lucrative, but they might also go to the other guy that night who was just that little bit better than us. And how do we feel about ourselves then?
I can’t write places like this off, no matter how many of them frustrate me and make me question my choices and my gas mileage.
I’ve coined an expression for nights like that. I call it “wearing the sequin dress to the baseball game.” That is when you feel like whipping out all the stops seems not only like overdoing it, but inappropriate. Last night, was the opposite. Whipping out all the stops was the right thing to do, the goal to be the “stand-out performer” part of the deal … and yet this time we somehow got punished for it.
While at Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem for the open mic there a couple nights ago, one of the volunteers there suggested that, since we were to be in Philadelphia anyway, we should head to the World Cafe. It’s a radio thing, but apparently they opened up a music venue. A competition like Eddie’s Attic, the staff of the place picks who advances. We figured this was a great way to meet some new people in Phillie and start making the most of a city we had not really taken full advantage of.
Any open mic at which you spend 6 hours is sort of difficult. So we go last night, showing up at the appointed hour of 5pm to wait in line for the 6pm sign-up, and we are the 7th in line. By the time they let us in, there are 15-20. We somehow wind up going 16th.
I always find myself looking around at moments like that and try and figure out who is going to be good. What they are going to sound like. I am almost NEVER right, which I guess should put to rest some of my own fears about looking the part. Although, there are some that look SO much the part and are the art that it is completely infused throughout their look and personality. There were a couple of those – a guy with crazy hair in big beads and a red hawaiian shirt. Everyone who was artfully disheveled it seems, turned out to be good. The venue itself was gorgeous … definitely not the baseball game. There was even a piano on which to writhe in the sequin dress you would have been totally right to wear there.
So the night crawled forward … As they were about to announce the winner at the end of the night, 11:30 or so, the bar manager came up to me and said we were the hands-down favorites. Everyone had voted our way.
But then they figured since we were a touring act we would not be able to make a date so soon and would likely be in parts elsewhere, so they picked someone else. It’s totally what we could’ve used – a built-in audience in a place we’ve got no draw.
I told the woman I wished she would have asked us, because we could have made the date. But she said they wanted to offer us a gig, and so they figured that was how we would “win.” I told her we don’t have much in the way of a huge following in Philadelphia, so it would have to be an opening act. I thanked her.
UGH! Too professional to win! If only they knew how many nights of our lives were spent in open mics. The gig is fine, but to be honest, a stair-step competition might be better for us seeing more and different kinds of audiences instead of trying ot pull numbers at a gig. They said if we came back another month, we would most certainly win and could go through the contest that way if we liked. They loved us. I think that was what was so frustrating. I wanted to tell them that we are not as well off as they think. But then again, I don’t want to tell people that.
Long night for the utmost in musical blueballs. Damn that slutty sequin dress and all its promise.