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Washtenaw Flaneurade
24 August 2005
Let Your Fingers Do The Screaming
Now Playing: The Soft Machine--"Lullabye Letter"
Li Bo, greatest and most beloved poet of the Tang Chinese Empire, lolled back in his rowboat one glorious night in 762, his nerves warm and his mind fuzzy, the sweetness of wine still in his mouth. He saw the moon rise beneath his boat--a curious sight, to be sure--so bright and beautiful, it looked the very face of a goddess. It seemed even close enough to touch, to embrace, and Li Bo tried, falling in his drunkenness into the moon's reflection upon the water and drowning in the lake.

That's one of my favorite historical legends. I think of Li Bo (701-62) and how he went--in a dream of ultimate bliss, swallowed up by a vision of nature at the height of his own achievement--and I think, "that's the way to go." Every time I see a full moon, I think of that guy. One was out Monday night, wreathed by some of the cloud cover that dominated the sky amid cooler and cooler temperatures, a moon of astonishing beauty. It was a dandy coda to a great weekend.

The Madison House had a more than usually friendly and mellow feel, probably because half the audience was still feeling the effects of the acoustic/hiphop bacchanalia Saturday night at Black Elk (which sounds like a teenage-party/bloody Western flick--somebody should film it). Shows always luck out with the weather there, and Sunday was no exception. I arrived early, as is my wont, commiserated with Brandon over our mutual recovery, and watched the backyard slowly swell with people over the course of the evening.

The Top 5 came first, and pleasantly strange they were, too. I'm not quite sure how I felt about them, but I think I'll have a better handle once they play New West Fest on Labor Day weekend. Come to think of it, I was so determined to be relaxed and convalescent that I forgot to say "hello." They played with guitar, keyboard, and violin, and there were even a couple of songs in French, which was an interesting experience. The Larry Brown Press Conference came next, and even though I'd earlier praised Ryan Balderas to the skies, I found I'd genuinely forgotten the extent of his ability. My short explanation: "Anyone who can take a movie directed by William Shatner and turn it into a thing of beauty (in 'What Does God Want With A Starship?') is someone who instantly deserves my applause." It was a pleasant thrill to recognize many of the songs (especially the lovely "Or How I Learned To Love Mitosis") and tap the feet along. Others reacted differently--the zombie song with the long title elicited such hilarity from Sari and Andrew Brown that they collapsed the makeshift bench on which they were sitting. He came there to kick ass and chew bubblegum. Guess what happened afterward.

Brandon Kierdorf of Narwhals Collide then took the "stage" as "Safety Kit" with an appealingly stripped-down musical persona, just him and an electric guitar, jamming away to a darkening sky and a rapt audience, somehow managing to create his own percussion with the force of his strumming (that was my impression, anyway). It was straight-up rock, man against the elements, which was pretty good until the end when he gave us a delightfully folksy number about "loving your bottles" (and I should have asked him the title). Finally there was Misty Lyn, with Matt Jones from Saturday night (the latter attracting at an exponential rate a growing and lusty-lunged local cult*) lending able support. They occupied what I've termed the "songs of longing and heartbreak" slot of which there's usually one to four at a Madison House show, they and their two guitars lulling me into a state that Li Bo might have found a little too familiar. All told, an excellent show once again.

In between the music, too, events moved pretty quickly. I've been daring myself, while perched on the back porch with one leg crossed lengthwise over the other, to see how far my leg can fall asleep. It's an interesting sensation to feel like there's no foot there and then to nearly stumble when you finally get feeling back in the nerves. That's probably an unhealthy thing to do, so I'll look into other forms of amusement. I discussed They Live (1988) with Ryan (and got the Casionauts' CD, Bailamos Muriemos Juntos!), met Sari Brown's brother Andrew (as it turns out, quite an accomplished Polaroideer) and the great Jim Roll, whose superb "Double-Time" I finally got to hear performed by its writer on myspace. Someone accidentally stabbed my finger with their fingernail during an unexpectedly forceful hug (the only reason I'm disguising the name is because it looks funny). Last but not least, we got to watch the lovely Annie give an accomplished demonstration of "voguing."

Every weekend should turn out like that.


Posted by Charles J. Microphone at 4:28 PM EDT
Updated: 25 August 2005 4:11 PM EDT
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24 August 2005 - 6:24 PM EDT

Name: Sari
Home Page:

Quoting the inimitable Andrew Brown: "Yeah, that one guy, I understand how phenomenally awesome he is now that I realized that his NAME is WENDELL."

I'm genuinely sorry about your finger, but at least you got an awesome polaroid taken of you because of it.

24 August 2005 - 8:17 PM EDT

Name: Wendell

Well, now I HAVE to check out Bonnie "Prince" Billie. ;)

It looks a lot better now--you can hardly see it at all.

25 August 2005 - 3:58 PM EDT

Name: Annie
Home Page:

Bonnie Prince Billy = Will Oldham = Palace. And like, if I had a music God, he would be it. He is to me what Fred Thomas is to Zwagerman, you get my drift? Bathgate kinda sounds like him, too. Which is at least part of the reason I love Bathgate.

27 August 2005 - 3:07 PM EDT

Name: Oga

I'll add my recommendation for you to listen to Bonnie Prince Billy as well. Check out I See A Darkness sometime.

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