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
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
March 04, 2016 - 2:53 p.m.
What to do? I slept late and now it's almost noon and haven't written or eaten. I can't eat dinner late as I'm going out tonight. Which is the great need, food or expression? Saying either totally changes my self-image. I cannot make either choice and remain the person I thought I was. I am caught in a logical dilemma. Norman coordinate. I am going to eat and think about writing while I do. Yes, that's lying to myself but I'm a very good liar. See you on the other side.
I'm back. To save time instead of making grits I made bacon and eggs. Tomorrow it's grits ala Horvendile for sure. One advantage of waiting is that I have also imbibed the magic elixir and I am imbued with the special powers it confers. In other words, I had coffee. Hold on. I have to get my second cup. Bad planning on my part. Now I've had two cops and I'm unstoppable.
I was feeling down yesterday as I had no plans and knew I was missing the sold out Michael Daves show at Rockwood Music Hall. It was the release show for his new album, orchids and violence. Then I got a text from Kevin; "Want to go to Michael Daves tonight? I have a spare ticket." Lots of problems with being me but it has some perks too.
The show was at 8:30 and the plan was to meet at 7:45. I made a great transfer to the train, no wait. The train pulled into the station as I got on the platform. That has replaced finding good parking as my sign of divine favor since I went carless. I have to try the human sacrifices that worked so well with parking. Many of the deities that used to work in agriculture and hunting have moved on to urban concerns. Even gods and goddesses have to keep up with the times.
Right after I got on the train, before I found a seat a guy came in carrying a guitar. Now lots of guys in New York carry guitars but he was familiar but I couldn't place him. I knew he played with someone I know but not part of my usual circle of friends. My first thought was Tomoko Omura but immediately rejected that. Then I used averted vision and didn't try and think of it and as so often happens I saw it; he plays with Sean Altman in Jewmongous. I'm me so I got up from my seat and introduced myself to him. I didn't know his name so now he's gone from "the goy that plays with Sean in Jewmongous" to Michael Hunter. We then had a great 8-minute conversation, that's how long the ride is to the Second Ave station. He was playing a gig in Rockwood 1, Michael Daves was on Stage 2. Michael H, would have been seeing Michael D. if he didn't have his own gig.
I thought I was running late but because of the perfect timing with the I got to Rockwood 10 minutes early. I dressed warmly as I was planning on waiting outside till doors opened. When I got there, there was no line. The door guy, not Mel, the one whose name I don't know, told me that because things were running late in the previous show people who got there early would get wrist bands and could wake in Rockwood 0, the small bar. I didn't think I could get mine as it was in Kevin's name so I hung out and talked to the door guy. When I texted Kevin he said I should try and get mine. I did. The woman with the list just believed me that I was Kevin's +1. So I wanted in 0. Who was there? Mike H. Kevin showed up in a bit. We made plans to see Hadestown. Then we were told that doors were open. It was a sold out show so I was surprised that there were tables and seats, we were early enough to grab some. It's not that I mind standing but a chair gives me someplace to put my coat and bag. It also lets me avoid the tight squeeze.
Most shows at Rockwood 2 are about an hour and ten minutes. Michael got two hours. Michael has had a weekly residence in Rockwood 1 forever so he's pretty much family there. I joked that he could claim it as his voting district as he has a residence there. He also gets special treatment because he's special.
It's just March and I can pretty much assure you this will be one of favorite shows of the year and one of my top albums. For a year, maybe more, whenever I saw Michael he talked about the new album which would be the same 12 songs, once done bluegrass and then "electronic." That's how I remembered him saying it But it's not electronic, it's electric, rock and roll. I had never seen him perform that way, neither had Kevin or the other people sitting out or table or Kevin's friend whose name I'm totally forgetting. I was hoping he'd do both versions but the stage was just set up for acoustic. The acoustic set had an all-star lineup: Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers) on banjo, Brittany Haas (Crooked Still, Dave Rawlings Machine) on fiddle, Jake Jolliff (Yonder Mountain String Band, Joy Kills Sorrow) on mandolin, Larry Cook on bass, and Jen Larson on harmony vocals. I got that list from the Facebook event and if I hadn't been depressed about missing the show and looked at the event more carefully I'd have seen there would be an electric set. This is what it says:
The second set will feature the electric material with Daves joined by experimental rock drummer Kid Millions (Oneida, The Boredoms) and electric bassist Jessi Carter (Buzz Buzz Tabernacle). Each of the three shows will also feature different special guest appearances: at Rockwood, the fiddle phenoms Mike Barnett and Alex Hargreaves in the bluegrass set, a surprise guest TBD at the Knitting Factory, and at the Bell House, the progressive banjo legend Tony Trischka in both the bluegrass and electric sets. Trischka was the only musician (other than Daves) to appear on both the bluegrass and electric sides of Orchids and Violence, on the cello banjo.Just looking at that lineup shows how special the show was. I'm now mad I'm missing the other two shows. I was just talking with LORi. My plan is to kidnap them all and force them to play The Budgiedome. Brittany, I'm sure that's OK with you, don't tell the others. I've learned from experience that kidnapping plans work better when the um, guests of honor, don't know what's planned.
If there were just the first set this would make my top shows of the year list. Everyone on that stage was amazing and their chemistry made the ensemble even better. It's bluegrass and everyone takes their turn on lead. They switch off brilliantly. It's fun just watching the choreography as the take turns stepping up to the lone condenser mic. Can we make Condenser Mike, Daves new nickname? I see Condenser Mike (yes I'm running with the joke) often yet each time it feels fresh. There are not a lot of musicians that can hold my attention playing guitar but he does it without breaking a sweat. Have you ever noticed how great guitarists who are not rock stars, play with an economy of motion? The fingers are a blur but it seems effortless. It isn't. After one song Michael said he needed oxygen. I thought they should have had an oxygen make come down from the ceiling like the piano does. Yes, the piano comes down from the ceiling at Rockwood. Mike's also funny. He's from Georgia and says that to him Southern music means Old Time and REM.
The second set was a standard rock trio, guitar, bass, and drums so it was Pickup Mike (his rock nickname) and a rhythm section. The change is more than the electricity. Now there was no one else stepping up and taking lead. It was all Mike. He can handle the load. He plays electric guitar as an electric guitar, not bluegrass style. It becomes a totally different instrument. Like Richard Thompson he's a master of both, that's rare and I didn't know it till last night. Maybe WFUV will play the electric material. I know I will. My next time I'm on WFDU I'm going to play both versions of the same song, probably Darling Corey.
During the second set I noticed Noam and some other members of the band in the audience but did not see Brittany, the only one I know. The Kevin said, "why don't you offer Brittany your seat?" she was standing right behind me. I got a shoulder rub and a hello. Kevin and I drove up to Hudson to see Brittany's old band Crooked Still. When you do it with someone else you're not crazy, you're hard core.
After the show we retired to the backroom which is official Stage 3, but the stage is in the basement not where we were so I won't call it that. It should really be Rockwood 4. I saw Jeremy there. He was at Stage 3 to see James Maddock. Who else was there? One of the Moss brothers. I'll be honest, I don't know which one and I'm always embarrassed to ask. I expected to see Amy. I thought I saw her at another table but when we got up I saw it wasn't her. But then she posted a pic on Instagram so she was there and I probably did see her at the other table and just saw someone with similar hair in the backroom that wasn't her.
Jen Larson started talking to Kevin and me. I thought Kevin knew her but he didn't. She's just very friendly and a kindred spirit. It was the kind of conversation about weird random things I have with my good friends, think Seinfeld with a musical flavor. It's a rare day where I sent out three Facebook friend request, Mike H, Condenser Mike, and Jen.
I finally talked to Mike. I've seen him so many times and have done incidental talk but I never even introduced himself. Last night he was by the CDs so I did introduce myself and got a copy of the CD to play on the radio. I don't think I ever asked s musician that didn't know me for a CD before. The Budgiedome has taught me to not be afraid to ask. Well OK I'm afraid but I overcome it. It's like speaking or even singing in public. It might seem scary but there's never a negative consequence. The worst that happens when you ask is that the answer is no.
I almost forgot. As we entered the backroom somebody started talking to me. I assumed he knew me. He looks like so many people I know, a typical Brooklyn music or arts person. I thought perhaps a friend of Noah's. It wasn't. It was a stranger doing video interviews of people about the show. He asked if I wanted to do it. I of course said yes. Like I said, that's not something to be afraid of and there I actually had no nervousness at all. Noah made that movie about me. Maybe the guy does know Noah. I forgot to ask where I can see it. If you see it anywhere let me know.
After saying a proper hello and hugging with Brittany I headed out with Jeremy to the subway. We had to wait forever for the train so it was great having someone fun to wait with. We only went one stop together but I think including the walk to the station it was half an hour. I really do have to make a human sacrifice to the train waiting gods. Do I still have my obsidian knife? I might have to make a new one.
I'm pretty sure you'll know this is really me from everything else but I still should tell you about dinner. I made something new, sweet garlic ham steak. Putting brown sugar on ham is pretty standard. Adding the garlic takes it to a new level. It was fantastic. All you do is chop up the garlic and sauté it in olive oil. I used about four small cloves. Then add two tablespoons of brown sugar to the mix. Spread it on top of the steak and cook it in the oven for 22 minutes at 425°F.
I have written 2139 words so far and feel I haven't done Michael Daves and the other musicians justice. Last night was pure magic. Catch them when you can and buy the album.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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