I'm sitting in a room. Specifically, the basement of the Blue Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant here in Harrisonburg, VA. We used to play here a lot, back when I worked in the kitchen and could badger the soundguy for shows all the time. After I left, I didn't see him as much and we haven't played here in a year or so.
The line-up tonight is Helgamite, some heavily bearded, corrugated metalheads frfom up in Luray, Joey Molinaro, a grindcore violinist from New York or some such Yankee state, us, and the Subtlerrrs, a band I never heard of who were added to the list by the soundguy, probably because there's some possibility that somebody might want to hear them and the night won't be a total loss. I've been in touch with Molinaro via the www for a while, but this'll be the first time we play a show. Hopefully, he'll get here sometime soon.
It's St. Patrick's Day. Five years ago, I was sitting in the waiting room of a hospital in Charlottesville, VA, waiting for the Spotted Opossum. I was vaguely wondering how I'd handle a St Patrick's Day birth. I am, by nature, prone to think about such things and I was wondering what kind of sacrifice I should offer to Patty as thanks for a happy, healthy delivery. A goat? A potato? In the event, the wee grrrl didn't arrive until 3am the following morning. She was a tiny thing.
Today, I spent the afternoon with her. She was all about watching My Little Pony and not a bit happy that I still don't have internet at the apartment. I made her put together a puzzle instead. I am that parent - the one who doesn't have an Ipad or TV or internet or any of that cool shit. When this snow melts off, I'll be dragging her out to the woods and making her swim in creeks, capture small varmints and roll around in mud. Actually, I don't have to make her do that stuff. She is my child, after all. Given the chance, she'll wander along a creek picking up quartz crystals and fresh-water mussel shells all day long. It's only when she's inside that she wants to zone out in front of a glowing screen.
Since I've been away from this, I've been working a lot at the Little Grill, a collectively-owned restaurant. I discovered that place when I was 16. It was amazing. There was always something going on - poetry reading, play, bands. The bands then were mostly of the rural variety, bluegrass, country blues, folk, but there were enough rock, punk and just fucked-up noise bands that you never knew what was gonna go down. I lost my virginity in a car in the little Grill parking lot. After, we went inside to see the band.
And the people who worked there then were all cool as fuck. I was 16, so guys in their mid-twenties who drank and did drugs and were in bands were like demi-gods to me. They put up with me pretty well, I guess. I was an obnoxious little piss-drunk kid.
Eventually, a new owner got the place and immediately fired me. I can't say he was wrong.
Over the years, I've mostly avoided the place. I worked there briefly in '06. Got mad and walked out. Last summer, it started to seem like signs were telling me to apply and I always pay attention to that. Even with my shoddy history, they hired me. I announced my intention to become a worker/owner a month or so ago. The A&E recently took a job with a band based out of Nashville (or Ashville, I'm not sure) and the A&E slot fell in my lap. I had been plotting for months how I was gonna take it over, but it just happened without me doing anything.
I've been pretty clear about my agenda. In the past decade or so, the Grill has lost it's way as far as music is concerned. Its all folk now. Folk and old-time. The kinda stuff they play on NPR on Sunday afternoons when old hippies are napping. Boring, hackneyed shit.
No more. Obviously, I'll have to keep some of the boring dreck, but a new day is dawning at the Little Grill. All the freakish glory of my teenage years with none of the vomiting and suicidal hangovers.
Helgamite is destroying. These guys are louder than anybody needs. Molinaro showed up. I sent him looking for the soundguy, who is hiding someplace. I think the Helgamite bassist is sitting in with BDSR tonight. I never know what the fuck is happening with my band. Or why. Molinaro wants to play third, which puts BDSR in the #2 position.
I was hoping to get a recording from the soundboard, but apparently that isn't possible, so it'll be the standard ghetto, sounds-like-shit muddle that we've all come to know and love.
I have just been informed that the Subtlerrrs will be next, then Molinaro and BDSR last. This is how it always goes down. There's some blond with a Eurotrash haircut roaming around making me wanna, Drummer Boy is rockin' out, the order is changing, the soundguy is cranky. Typical. This afternoon, I was kinda hoping the show would be cancelled. I always kinda hope the show will be cancelled on the day of. I'm not a person who wants to be in the spotlight. I do it and I actually do enjoy it when I'm up there and everything is coming together like it's s'posed to, but I'm much more comfortable climbing a mountain or drawing or picking up mussel shells with the grrrl or cooking on a flatgrill or driving my truck or just about anything. I have stage fright - that's part of why I wear the medicine hat. It allows me to get in character, to get out of myself. And when the noise is full-on, cored-out and rolling, I get really far out of myself. Sometimes, when I'm performing I really do love it. Sometimes.
The college girls in green plastic hats just fled. I'm surprised they were here as long as they were. Molinaro told me his tour is going good, which is good. Hopefully, he'll get enough money from the door to cover his gas to the next gig.
And why is BDSR last? How does that make any fuckin' sense? I used to be able to count on us getting the opening slot.
The Subtlerrrs are setting up. I've been talking to dudes in local bands, telling them I'll be the booking guy at the grill, trying to generate some interest. Most dudes in bands just wanna play shows, so it ain't hard. I should have no trouble getting two or three bands every Friday without repeating too often. Outta towners are always welcome, of course.
I always feel weird sitting around in bars waiting for someone to tell me it's time to play. I was never into the whole bar scene. When I was a drunk, I avoided bars as a rule - too expensive and I was prone to becoming somewhat antisocial after I reached a certain level of drunk. Incapable of decent behavior. Getting drunk in a bar was too likely to end in arrest or brutal beatdown. Now I find myself sober sitting in bars.
The Subtlerrrs are reading Genesis. The guitar has a no-name guitar. It ain't even a Silvertone. I'm playing the black, left-handed Hondo tonight. Standard tuning. Black X wanted to switch to open E - I usually work in some D-based tuning. It seemed easier to just tune standard than tune to open D and raise eveything a step. Standard tuning has it's uses. I'm not opposed to standard; I just like variety. Actually, standard tuning is a change of pace for me. At home I've been fucking around a lot in DADAAD.
These guys are pretty good. I gotta get contact info.
I also gotta get working on this piece of art I brought. Pen work, easy and portable. I've got a visual art show in April and I need new stuff.
I'll try to get stuff up here more often.
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.