Late night. Played a good gig with Hugh McGowan at the Burren last night. He played some percussion… well… he played drum through the latter-half of our first set, and all the way through our second set. Hands with both Heather and Hugh beating the Hell out of djembe’s is pretty monstrous.
Whitney, our host in Cambridge, brought a couple of friends out (who were all relieved to find themselves NOT being subjected to a Dread Ribbon Dance) and our friend Jeff from back home (the soundguy from the New Deal Cafe, actually) sent us a bunch of his old friends as well. An example you should ALL emulate.
After the show, we stepped out onto the rainy streets of Davis Square and admired Christmas lights and late-night wanderers. Heather and I got back to the house and were kept up by Katie, the woe-begone cat, till around 5am when I decided it was time to close the door andput in some earplugs.
Happy May Day. Amy’s mix CD is guiding us home through the rain, to a tiny house in the woods of Connecticut on family land. She is our lady of Ineffable Wisdom when it comes to the songs of other writers.
The last two nights have been damp, and cold, and exhausting and delicious. Last night’s show at the Centre Coffee Bar, reeling from the wonder of doing a two and a half hour show twice in as many days.
Wednesday night we played the Burren, in Somerville – and the two and a half hours of ilyAIMY almost killed us. We’re out of practice and out of breath and the two months at home doing short sets has left us unprepared for the world we’ve created for ourselves.
Hugh McGowan played with us for most of the gig, and his percussion was elegant, and passionate, and so welcome. I always worry that we’ll go away and people who Loved us and people we’ve Loved will fade from memory and that they will forget us. I was afraid that had happened with Hugh, and our meeting was distant, and cautious. But he remembered us as we played, and he grinned as Heather’s harmonies locked, and as the rhythms shifted. I wish we could pocket him and bring him home to Rowan, and let ilyAIMY have some new blood. I Love You and I Miss You was particularly applicable.
Friday night we came home again – to the Centre Coffee Bar in Connecticut, and played from 7.30pm to 11 with a short break in-between two sets. I didn’t feel like I did that well, but we were Loved, and I guess that’s a mark of how far we’ve come. We made a couple of really good friends that night – one of which even came out the next night….
Tonight was a Godsend. It’s in my blood – the music, the heat and the passion. I don’t know where it came from. But I want loud, clear signals. Unavoidable and unignorable.
I want to threaten the hearing of the masses.
Heather was worried – we got to Jitters before it opened (who knew that a coffeehouse would have a “doors opening” time?!) and sat in the car in the rain listening to music and fogging up the windows and waiting… We got inside and worried more. Though very cool the space was small – and Heather
well – you really can’t blame her. Track down Jitters’ website. You’ll see some HUGE ASS speakers in the pictures. That does indeed imply a pretty big space.
I’m glad it was exactly what it was – an eclectic coffeeshop owned by a woman who celebrates leaving her husband ever December 10th. She owns the connected consignment shop and books whatever it damn well pleases her to book. A small space packed with consignment-shop left-overs, knick-knacks, buddhas and umbrellas and ice skates and skis. And two massive speakers.
I Love playing coffeehouses. I Love the intimacy. And I Love being LOUD. This really was a pretty perfect combination for me. Could’ve used a slightly larger space to wiggle around in, and a larger audience to pack the tiny room – but you can’t have it all, and I was pretty happy with what I got.
And the energy was perfect. I place a lot of that at the feet of the energy there, the volume, the fact that we’d been playing the last couple days and I was back on top of my chops, and my voice was back (and I could hear it – Mike did a great job with sound, but without monitors, I was kind of struggling) – and at the feet of the performers we were guesting with – Sour Grapes.
Larry and Ellen have an eclectic, high-energy sound that crosses the sound and vocal agility of Rusted Root with the good-natured JOY of… of what? I don’t really know – it’s not jam band altered-state amiability, and it’s not pre-planned and coldly executed folk fun… it was something that reminded me of my old partner, Audrey, and something that reminded me of sledding… joyriding down a hill and laughing with the sheer frenetic joy of it.
Sour Grapes really was anything BUT their name. Ellen is one Hell of a percussionist, one Hell of a vocalist. Larry is a great harmonica player, and they both have some rapid-fire vocal abilities and an almost Brazilian rhythmic sensibility. And add to that their REAL hook – tap dancing. I’m going to leave it there, cause I can’t do it all justice – I’m hoping we can drag them down to Maryland at some point. Y’all would enjoy them muchly.
Wow, so I just heard that Conan O’Brian is going to have Ani Difranco on tonight. I think that this will be first time he’s ever had a musical act that doesn’t suck. How nice.
It’s been a rough day. Yesterday was so relaxed, full of wandering and Indian foods… today has been dumb and expensive, and we haven’t even gotten out of Massachusetts yet. I hang me head in shame. I got the car towed. No big deal, and I’m not going to go into details. Should’ve seen the sign, didn’t see the sign. Paid the towing fee, gonna pay the ticket, but again, won’t bitch too much because the same thing would’ve cost about five times more in Baltimore City. Ploo. So now we sit in traffic on our way North to go visit Dan Blakeslee. I wish we had either wings or a car plow.
Last night was wonderful. We played the Victoria Station Cafe, which, if we’d been going with our usual strategies, we’d probably never have discovered. But we were taking a “long-cut” through Connecticut last time we were up here, and happened to go into the Cafe seeking food, and happened to fall in Love with the ambience, and happened to ask the owner if he did Live music. Nope, but he’d Love to have some… whatever. Booked a Thursday night on a whim, way out of our way… I mean, everything about it spoke like this was going to be a dead night in a little town where no-one has heard of us.
But these are the shows that are good for my soul. Maybe the money is all to be made in bars and in “listening clubs” where people stare intently and the owner’s counting heads and cursing us for not having brought 50 more people even though THEY forgot to post us on the website, or bumped us to a Tuesday at the last second, or… whatever else my pet peeves are. Maybe the money is to be made there because those places are being run by cut-throat businessmen who know how to make a buck. We take the scrapings and the leavings…
But these coffeehouse shows, and the ones that go so wonderfully, with such wonderful people and wonderful SPACES and wonderful nights. I broke two strings, fucked up lyrics, my battery died and I discovered that I’d mislabelled all my E strings as D strings – but despite all that, it was still one of the best gigs we’ve played in a long time. It just felt so good on the drive home… it’s like eating just the right amount at Thanksgiving or something… all the comfort foods filling your belly just right.
It’s a good night when: halfway through the show a 4 year-old named Harry asks you to play some James Taylor… and when later in the night, after breaking a string, that same 4 year-old comes over to watch you change the string, and then when you stupidly string it with the wrong guage and launch your string peg across the room, it’s really nice to have a four year-old who’s willing to chase it under tables.
Highlights included – a guy named Chris who had run out to come back with a burned CD of a guitarist I reminded him of. This CD of ________ (I’ll check the name later) was the PERFECT music for the drive home. – a guy named John who helped us find a shortcut back to where we were staying the night… – a couple of people who sat in the back the whole night and who lit up my Life by being friendly to an exhausted post-gig rob… (oh, and Heather compared one of them to Fiona Apple, which I think is unfair because no-one that young and potentially even illegal should be compared favourably – and accurately – to someone that hot) – and Jessie, who was the first person to talk to us that night, and who’s enthusiasm for music let us know that the night was going to be something special.
It was a long drive back to bed through small towns and forests, listening to acoustic guitar and the wind.
So tired. It’s 3.27am and my brain is whirling in ci… no… it’s grinding around in circles, running over things over and over and over again like a woman in a Chrysler on her boyfriend with a grudge. Or something. Heh, like when my friend Laurie got pissed at her boyfriend (he’d actually just broken up with her, I guess) and she chased him and ran him down with her car. There’s thoughts like that in my head.
We’re in Connecticut, at Mike’s house – the world could end out there and we’d be none the wiser. We saw the Milky Way tonight. The Milky Way did not see us. We’re too young.
Tonight we played magnificently. The best shows are always the ones when we are reunited with at least some portion of the rest of the band. Sharif and Jason came up from Maryland, and we were awesome. Energy flowed out of me and into Sharif and into Heather and they amplified everything I had to give and we fired it into an audience that was hungry for it, but it brings me home drained. Long and dirty conversations long into the night, and even that ended two hours ago. Since then I’ve been doing my thing – staring at the ceiling and hating consciousness and my own insomnia. Hating it with a passion.