I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

September 09, 2012 - 11:47 p.m.

Gypsy Swing, Aussies and Thieves

I got home late last night and woke up early so I had very little sleep I'm running on fumes. On the bright side I have a lot to write about and this is the only way I have to do it before I go out today and get even more to write about.

Yesterday I had a dilemma, two things I really wanted to do, The Take me to the River Festival and seeing Caravan of Thieves at the Hurdy Gurdy Folk Club. The Festival was rained out so the weather made my decision for me.

The other issue was my health. I had a Crohn's attack on Friday. What I've discovered is that if I take 20 mg of prednisone at one time it clears up a Crohn's attack. I took it on Friday and it worked. I rested all day Saturday till it was time for me to leave. Even if the Festival had gone on I would probably have skipped it anyway so I could rest during the day.

Getting to the Hurdy Gurdy is a bit of a challenge. I have to take the subway to Penn Station then two NJ Transit trains then walk. When I left the house it was sunny. By the time the train came out in Jersey it was raining. It let up some before I got off but it was still raining lightly and I had a 10 minute walk. Good thing I had the emergency poncho that LORi gave me when I visited there last week.

When I got to the Hurdy Gurdy I had to do something for what might have been the first time that I was there, I had to buy a ticket. Usually if I'm there I'm merching or doing something for the artist. I wasn't even sure where the box office was.

Before I did anything I had to resolve a major problem. The last train from the station there leaves before the show is over. I had to get a ride to Secaucus Junction where there are trains till later in the night. I found Ron who runs the Hurdy Gurdy and told him my problem and he offered to drive me. I had originally figured that Brian could drive me, he volunteers there, but he had a wedding. I plan on going back a few more times this season, I hope he's there for those shows. Oh no he has something to hold over my head again. It used to be that he'd bring me Taylor Ham but now I can get it at the Pathmark by my house.

Once I got my ticket and my ride I grabbed my usual seat in the front row. It was empty when I got there though the second row had lots of people in it. I don't know what that was about. There was a sweater on the seat I wanted so I sat a couple seats away from the center. Guess what, nobody ever sat in the center seat. The person in the second row just figured it was a good place to put his sweater. It wasn't a big deal as the show was not sold out but he didn't know that when he put his sweater there. He just figured that his stuff deserves its own seat as much as a human being.

I had never heard of the opening act Daniel Champagne and had no idea what to expect. Ron has great taste (i.e. similar to mine) so I was optimistic. Daniel is a 22 year old Aussie guitar player singer/songwriter and he blew me away. If you are familiar with Barnaby Bright the best description I can give you is think of a caricature of Nathan Bliss. He plays with similar style where the guitar is not just plucked but used as a percussion instrument. He hits not just the body of the guitar but also the strings. He changes the tuning in the middle of the song, sometimes every bar. It isn't a stunt, it isn't a sideshow, it's just the way he makes great music. I didn't take it but here's a video so you can see for yourself.

The other performer he made me think of was Jeff Lang. I was happy to hear that I heard right, he mentioned Jeff as an influence when somebody asked him after the show.

Guess what I don't have enough time to finish this before I go. I'll try to finish it as soon as I get home. I hope I can remember half the things I planned on writing.

I'm back after a day of doing things and then wasting time once I got home. Will I remember anything I wanted to write?

I haven't seen Caravan of thieves in two years. That was after saying that I wanted to follow them around in a psychedelic VW microbus. Things just never worked out. As tends to happen when I haven't seen something that instantly won me over then not seen for a long time I wondered if they were as good as I remember them being. Last night I got the answer. They aren't. They are even better. It saddens me that everyone doesn't feel the same way. The first time I saw them was in John Platt's On Your Radar. They were a revelation. I was excited to discover great artists that I had no hint of before. I was disappointed that everyone in the audience didn't feel the same way. I couldn't imagine how anyone could see them and think they were just good. But people did.

Seeing them again was a thrill. Once again I'm vowing to follow them around in a psychedelic VW microbus. I will not go two years without seeing them again.

I guess I should tell you about the music they make. Caravan of thieves is a four piece alt Gypsy Swing band. They are virtuoso instrumentalists, I would go to the shows just for their musicianship. They are also silly, insane, and tons of fun. Their website says ". If Django Reinhardt, the cast of Stomp and the Beatles all had a party at Tim Burton's house, Caravan of Thieves would be the band they hired."

When the first song Ghostwriter started it was just Fuzz and Carrie harmonizing as a duet. It reminded me of Chuck E. Costa and Mira Stanley aka The Sea the Sea. Chuck and Mira's performances are totally naturalistic. It's two people singing. They are sweet and charming but the music is the show. Fuzz and Carrie were then joined by Brian on Bass and Ben on violin and the theatrics began. Naturalistic is the last word I'd use to describe them. It's closer to a circus. It is choreographed chaos in some ways reminiscent of Mucca Pazza.

The two approaches, naturalistic and theatrical are both valid. One is not better than the other. The important thing is to do what you do well. Naturalism works for the Sea the Sea and performance art for Caravan of Thieves.

I often describe musicians as divine or say god speaks through them. Not Caravan of Thieves. They don't make you feel heaven but all the pleasures you can have here on Earth. They make your blood race. They make you laugh. They make you feel alive.

After the show Ron drove not only me to the train station but Daniel too. He was also taking the train back to Penn Station. That gave me time to get to know him. We had not just the time of the car and train rides but we had to wait 27 minutes in the station. While we waited two people struck up a conversation with us. They were from Buffalo and in town of the Jets-Bills game. They were also as drunk as a skunk. That's not fair they could have also been high.

What did I learn about Daniel? Lots of things but one worth mentioning is that he's good friends with Fred Smith aka Iain Campbell Smith. The folk world is incestuous in Australia too.

I'll pick up with what I did today in my next entry. In the mean time have I convinced you that you have to see Caravan of Thieves and Daniel Champagne? If not I haven't done my job.

Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017

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Horvendile September 09, 2012
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