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
October 09, 2017 - 12:19 p.m.
The two-month nightmare is over, Robinson & Rohe are home from their tour. They didn't even wait to go to their actual home, they drove directly from West Virginia, through six states, to the Lethe Lounge on the Upper West Side. I've gone more to the UWS above 72nd street in the last three weeks than I have the previous year. I was there two nights in a row for house concerts.
I had never been to the Lethe Lounge. Before I forget, forgetting is quite appropriate, Lethe is pronounced Lee-thee. The River Lethe is the river of forgetfulness in Greek Mythology. I can't remember not knowing about it, yet till Mark, the host, said it I had mispronounced it, I rhymed it with Beth. I am ashamed as I know you pronounce the final e in Greek, think psyche and calliope. He in fact has a picture of all the muses in the music room and the one I picked up, to see what they were, was Calliope, the muse of epic poetry. When I prepared for Jeopardy I finally learned all 9 muses and what their fields were. I no longer remember them. To add irony to my mispronunciation I corrected Alex when he pronounced Selene as she-leen. I told him it's three syllables as you pronounce the final e in Greek. I need to up my pedantry game. Remember Odysseus is only three syllables, seus rhymes with Zeus. That makes it easy to remember.
I don't think I really need to worry about my pedantry, I just reread that last paragraph.
In the small world department, Mark is Kate Copeland's father, I had met him at a show where Kate opened for Dougmore; Kate produced their album. Dougmore is playing John Platt's On Your Radar tomorrow. Their album Outerboros is based on Ovid's Metamorphosis. The Eponymous Doug was a classics major. I am sure he can pronounce Lethe correctly. Don't worry. I'll get to the music but there are more small world stories to come.
The performance space was fantastic. Mark's a musician and it's set up as a studio with sound proof doors and silent air conditioning. It's beautiful, I'd show you the pictures but I'm way behind on my editing now. Maybe that's what I'll do today. I have videos to post too.
I got there early to help set up. Yeah, I had never been there before but it's what I do. I had only met Mark briefly but a few minutes with him was enough to discover that he's my people. He even played Richard Thompson during the pre-music feasting.
After I had sent up the chairs I had a few minutes and I added people to my list of performers to recommend for the next Hudson West Fest. I keep the list on my note app. One of the people I added was Tamar Korn. During the feast I heard someone mention her and look towards the door. I looked towards the door. Tamar had just walked in. I of course showed her that I had added her to my list. Of course, I'm an idiot and wrote Tamara not Tamar. I know it's Tamar but that's what being an idiot means.
I was surprised that I knew only one person there. Mark has a loyal crowd, most of the people had not seen Jean and Liam before. It's Robinson & Rohe but Jean and Liam. Do not ask me why, it's just the way things are. The crowd was fun, I had lots of great conversations.
This show was a co-bill with Dylan McKinstry who neither Mark nor I knew. He is friends with Liam and Jean. Noticed how I mixed things up there? He plays guitar and banjo and sings. Many of his songs are instrumentals, he has the chops to pull that off. I figured he was conservatory trained. I asked him, he was but not in guitar or banjo. The serious training still shows. It's also a matter of confidence, most musicians wouldn't feel comfortable doing so many instrumentals. In the 50s and 60s there were a lot of instrumental hits, people were used to them, that's not true anymore. He was good enough to get an instant Budgiedome invite. I talked to him quite a bit during the break and after the show; he's my people too.
I asked Liam if after the eight-week tour there were new songs for me, he said, "no." I told them that as I have no memory and this is the Lethe Lounge I won't remember them anyway. We agreed that I'd consider them all new material. In a sense they are as they are always fresh. In the intro Liam said that the title track Hunger means something different every night. Maybe that's what it is. Or maybe Jean is a witch and it's black magic. Notice I made Jean the witch not Liam. That's the patriarchy speaking. The truth is that they are both wizards and their music is good magic. Listening to Robinson & Rohe makes me feel like I mediated while at the same time making my mind race. It seems contradictory but that's how magic works.
A feature of their shows is the Troubadour Express, their very slow mail delivery service. They have their own little stationary and people write notes that they address to people at other places on their tour. I received one once. They read the names of the people in the area that have mail. I got one once. Sometimes the person isn't there but someone that knows the person in and delivers it. As they live in New York there are a ton addressed here so instead of reading them, they left them in a file box for people to go through. What they read were the ones that are addressed to types of people, like "An existentialist," "My future bride," "a redheaded stranger." I did the merch and looked through the ones with names before the show. I knew the person right at the front, the violinist Melissa Tong! I took it and will hand deliver it next time I see her. I told you it's a microscopic world.
I had a few conversations last night that I said would lead to future blog posts. I don't remember what they are. Why didn't I write them down? Oh right, I'm an idiot. I remember one aha moment. Dylan was explaining the idea behind the drone string of a 5-string banjo. I never understood it yet had never asked anyone before. He explained it well and then it hit me. There are three instruments that get mocked the most, accordion, banjo, and bagpipe. The latter two both feature drones. Maybe that's what people find annoying. Maybe it's just that they have bad taste, I love all three.
Time to eat, I'm going to try a culinary experiment, sausageeggandcheese on lavash I'm turning into garlic bread. I don't have American cheese so I have to experiment with that too. Not sure which substitute I'm using. Probably shredded 4-cheese Mexican.
Cry Uncle Bonsai and Let Loose the Dogs of War - October 22, 2017
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