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
December 08, 2017 - 8:22 p.m.
A month ago, maybe longer, I wrote Brittany when her new band, Hawktail, which is Haas Kowert Tice + new member, mandolinist, Dominick Leslie, was coming to New York. She told me that nothing was planned but that she'd be playing with Dave Rawlings at Brooklyn Steel and I could go as her guest. I couldn't turn that down. That was on Tuesday night; it's now Friday but this is the first chance I've had to blog since then. WFUV is having a pledge drive. I've had very little sleep since the concert, so I will not be able to do it justice; I'll do the best I can.
Brooklyn Steel is not very convenient from anyplace, especially not City Island after a bus and three subways it was a half-mile walk. I'd only been there once before but I had no trouble finding it. I got there early, about ten minutes before doors. That let me get a spot up front Stage Murray. If everyone was a Fruhead you'd know exactly where I was standing but sadly you aren't. There were four mics set up on the stage, I was just house left of the leftmost mic. It's much easier to say Stage Murray. One of these days I'll give you the Moxy Fruvous setup and from then on you can refer to stage positions that way. Brooklyn Steel has a weird setup; It's set up like an outdoor stage. There is a fence set up about five feet from the stage. Someone patrols the space between. The fence sits on a raised platform. That's where I stood. That's great for me but makes it difficult for everyone else to see over the first row. I do not understand the logic of it. The front row filled up but hardly anyone came in for the next half hour. Once you don't have the front row it no longer makes that big a difference.
There was no opening act, Dave Rawlings & Friends did two sets. I didn't know it till the show started but 40% of Dave Rawlings & Friends was 50% of Hawktail. Brittany played fiddle and Paul Kowert bass. Dave played guitar and banjo, Gillian guitar. Willie Watson is one of those versatile sidemen that play, everything else; fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and banjo. He even sang a few songs. Am I imagining him playing mandolin? By pure chance I ended up right in front of Brittany.
Dave Rawlings is one of those rare stars that's the best guitarist in the band. Usually the front man strums rhythm guitar while someone else plays lead. Not Dave, he could do a show of instrumentals and I'd learn it. The way Noah puts it is that he can play any two notes consecutively. He's at his best on a little parlor guitar. Two days in a row I saw a master guitarist playing with Brittany Haas, on Monday it was Michael Daves.
Is there another pair like Dave and Gillian? They always play together but sometimes they are Dave Rawlings shows and sometimes Gillian Welch. Gillian did two of her songs including Miss Ohio. I tried to find some way to joke that she covered Pesky J. Nixon, but it always sounded like I was just being stupid. That's the problem when you are an idiot, it's harder to feign idiocy.
I'm not familiar with Dave's songs but that didn't make a difference. I could still sing along and clap along and stomp along. He does a great job of building a set. He acts like he's making it up as he goes along but the way things build requires planning.
There was a multi-song encore. That's when Gillian did Miss Ohio. They finished with a piece that reached a demonic crescendo with each musician playing as fast and furious as he or she could. Then just as we were about to leave he asked the venue if he could do one more song, a short one. They all came together around one mic and sang a beautiful piece a Capella; a perfect coda.
Getting home was an adventure. I walked back the half mile to Graham and found the station roped off. There were no signs, but the L train station was closed. The subway app said no trains were coming. I decided to walk to the next stop, Lorimer. Worse comes to worse I could catch a G train there. When I got there the station was open, but all the turnstiles were blocked. I tried to figure out what to do. I saw some shuttle buses. They only went to Lorimer, not the City. While I was thinking I missed the entrance to the G I saw Noah. He would have gone to the show with me, but he had to work. I asked someone and found out there was an entrance to the G a block away. I knew that, I've used it many times. I was cracking under time pressure. Noah had to go to the Upper West Side and I had to make my way back to City Island. We took the G, to Court Street where we caught the E into the City. I switched to the 6 after one stop and he continued to the D. I hope made it back OK. I had more trouble. The 6 was running in two sections so I had to switch trains at 125th street. The motorman never announced that. When we got to 125th he said we could transfer to the 4 or 5 but said nothing about the 6. I knew from Google maps what was going on, so I got off. After I got off he finally made an announcement and only then did half the people leave the train. I felt bad for Noah that he had to deal with this too, but it made it much easier on me having him to hang out with. This kind of thing is always more bearable with a friend. I told him all about the show. He asked me how Brittany got the gig. I didn't know but I told him I figured that everybody knows she's as good a fiddler as there is, so he hired her. It's not that big a community. A great fiddler and a great bass player will always be in demand.
Because of all the delays I missed the last bus back to City Island by 7 minutes. Oy. I had to take a cab. Know what? The show was so good it was worth it and worth not getting much sleep for. Since then I have been volunteering at WFUV. I started to write last night but something held me up and I decided to go to sleep. I'll write about volunteering tomorrow. Tomorrow night I'm off to see Darlingside at Irvington Town Hall. There are still seats available. You should go if you can. I'm going to have another night with very little sleep.
Now to watch Gotham and Arrow. I'm also doing half my laundry. I have two loads, I have one in the washing machine now. It should be finished. I'll throw it in the dryer, come back upstairs, watch TV and not move again till I go to sleep.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
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