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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

GC / EC Tour Diary #4

Tour Diary 4

We're on our way to Philly from Morgantown, WV. Everyone's a bit crusty from last night's tomfoolery at the cozy home of good friends Clover & Jesse. The performances, or at least my perception of them, have grown increasingly strange. Three nights ago, we were in Charlotte, and EC was performing at the John Tosco Music Party (I didn't do a set that night) - a scene straight out of the 50s - that old style folk show where you nervously (but in sudden perfect pitch) perform 2 of your hittiest songs in front of a sold out opera house (bookended by a series of doo-wop groups or country singers), who rise to their feet because they've never seen someone jump in the air and play guitar. Then afterwards you're all young and giddy and the audience loved you and you're chittering backstage where someone analogous to LIttle Richard comes up and tells you you're "going places" and then flash forward and you're married to him but he has two friends, heroin and the new attractive backup singer, that are tearing your marriage apart at the expense of your two lovely children. Then, he gets an award for writing love songs about those friends, and it's all good because he's blind.

That was an ill show because EC ended up stealing the show, murdered, and when we first walked in, we thought we were on the moon or something... There was a huge men's gospel choir in nice suits, a 90 year old lap steel player with his pilgrim-looking wife, numerous singer songwriters, a jazz trio comprised of pre-pubescent and freckly boys, etc. I kept asking the stage manager if he understood that we were a little louder than they seemed prepared for and his response was repeatedly, "we have a blues act, all kinds of stuff, so we can handle it."
We got swamped at the merch table... this was the first show where people were there only to consume music, and in the most respectful manner I've seen in maybe 5 years (since I played with Tony MacNaboe opening for Joe Cocker). Afterwards, we thanked John Tosco, who puts on these shows every 3 months, I got to play the gorgeous grand piano (there's a video in my video section), and we left with a ginormous bag of trailmix, still providing sustenance to this day. Morale soared like a condor in the RV until we landed at a Tiki bar called Rum Runners the next day.

At first glance, this was looking to be either the best or the worst show ever. The room was specifically designed to replicate the aural spectrum of an empty Olympic swimming pool filled with broken cymbals. There were two "baby grand" pianos. I touched them both like they were my own children ("grand" children? mmmm... hmmm..... hmhmh..... haa....hahahaahhhhhaaaaa), but then I suddenly recoiled! Housed in the unnaturally robust shell of these tiny behemoths was a most unnatural electronic keyboard (the Priesthood-wielding owner later told me that they were custom made to withstand the impact of the bar's regular piano man - a 300 lb shredder known to strut the hood of this hog with a "blazing fiddle solo" several times a night)! Oh, the tease: the fantasy that had been tempestuously formulating in my mind had been shattered on the rocks of this tacky island-themed meat market. What should have been the premiere of my much lauded One Man Dueling Piano set would instead just be a normal "Why Am I Here" kind of set. Or would it?
Yes, it would.
Preceded by what may have been a "soul"-themed open-mic night, I began building the first beatbox loops of my set while a few couples on the dance floor were putting their clothes back on (one particularly burly woman, ensconced in Levi, had spent the last two songs with her forehead literally on the floor, and her rump aggressively grinding into the crotchal region of a man who was haphazardly pantomiming the operation of a tractor trailer. I took pause then, because I wondered these 3 things: Is this woman at all concerned about the floor residue that is being mopped up by her sticky hairdo? Does this man actually own a tractor trailer, because he's clearly shifting with his left hand, and in my experience, the gear shift is on the right? If he does own a tractor trailer, has he had it modified in some way to provide stimulation to his groin?). The audience, save for some members of EC, some of the staff, and Kevin, was entirely African American. This is exactly one day before I got my hair properly did to look like George Clooney so I'm still looking like the love child of Matt Damon and Charlie Manson. These factors, coupled with the extreme femininity already prevalent in my music were enough to make me fear for my life. It makes for a wonderful creative tension - I sang every word like it may be my last, literally. And then a beautiful thing happened:
"chigga chigga chigga Freeeeeshhhhh!" burst through the PA speaker, drowning out my silly attempts at innovation. Then another, "ya - ya - yigga - Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhhhhh!!!"
DJ Sugar Shack, a sympathizing self-appointed collaborator (or possibly suffering from dementia), came scratching to my aid, punctuating my lyrics about delivering supplies to the Women's Care wing of a hospital with the nation's favorite battle samples. His helping hand continued to massage my music into a rousing DJ solo at the end of 90 East. Sweating profusely and trying to squeeze whatever scratch-like sound I could from my blue synth (back home my friends call me "Whammy Faye Baker"), we traded fours! I noticed that the majority of the stoic audience had stored their firearms back under their do-rags - the tides were turning for team Blanco... I'd emerged victorious!
EC was received well, despite (or maybe as a result of) the fact that they were dressed like beach bums. They finished the short set with a show-stopping medley of MJ songs - and none-too-soon! It was at that precise moment that the seafood served to us upon load-in began to make it's way back up and down in us.
We drove all the way to Morgantown, and woke up to Clover's pancake surprise and joyous internet connection.
I don't wanna talk about the show last night, at the Blue Moose Cafe - I got in a bad place mentally somewhere in the onset. The things that were said to me, by me, and about me, need not be repeated or dwelled upon... I felt like I was doing a disservice to the songs themselves, if that makes any sense. Regardless, we ended up back at Clover and Jesse's shortly thereafter, stumbling around in bunny ears, trying to find a microwave to make popcorn in.

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