Now Playing: T. Rex--"Metal Guru"
Sometimes, never mind why, I come to think that I don't really have a right to do anything--anything fun, that is. It's like I automatically feel guilty about enjoying myself and I should repair to my room and start lashing myself with nettles or some such nonsense for having fun or thinking of having fun. I hate feeling like that, as can surely be imagined.
I didn't feel that way last night, though.
I got to the Madison House later than usual. I'd been taking a stroll through the Old West Side (I really don't know what possesses me to do these things) and lost track of time. I decided to forgo the alcohol this time, and didn't find it so much different. I chatted with Annie a bit and Sara a good deal, and finally got to introduce myself to Sari Brown in person, as we somehow ended up exchanging a few emails. And then the music...
These are out of order, as I want to deal with my favorite last. Chris Bathgate opened the country-bluegrass-folk barrage with an intricately delivered set of songs, both in instrumental and vocal terms. His voice went very well with his guitar, and both matched the songs. I was seated towards the front, so it was a much different experience taking in the tunes this time. Alexander Robins, Matt Jones, and Emily Hilliard concluded the evening, playing solo and with each other. They're all in some band whose name I didn't catch, and as Emily Hilliard is leaving for Vermont, they won't be playing together again, I suppose. That's a pity, as they're very, very good. I was enjoying Robins' guitar alone anyhow, but once Jones and Hilliard joined in, on banjo/mandolin and violin respectively (with appearances from Rob Hoff on the trumpet and some guy whose name I didn't catch on drums), the night began to turn into something out of a fairy tale, the soft lighting and mellowing temperature making everything fuzzy and indistinct. I think a glockenspiel showed up at some stage. By the time Hilliard was joined by friends for a very lovely female vocal, I wondered if I'd strayed into a dream sequence from some artsy rustic horror movie (and if there are any out there I should see, please let me know).*
In between... "There are the known and there are the unknown," and then there's "The Larry Brown Press Conference," the solo project of Ryan Balderas, one of the Casionauts. I should state that I'm rather biased towards Ryan anyway, as he was one of the first people I ever met at the Madison House shows, and we somehow got to talking that day about how awesome early Yes was (an opinion not so controversial nowadays as it used to be--I think--but still a little sketchy according to some). A very nice guy, and as it turns out, an excellent musician.
As he observed in his introduction, most of the evening's music was as I described it before. Most of the shows that have played there before have come from the same musical backgrounds, although I'm certainly not complaining--the Madison House backyard isn't really set up, aesthetically or otherwise, for GWAR cover bands (and if there are any out there that I "should" see, I won't believe you). He trundled out a keyboard, and I wondered how deep his love of Yes went, if we would maybe see an imagined finish to Rick Wakeman's ambitions to render King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table on ice skates (I never get tired of remembering that it actually happened). Ryan played alternately on the guitar and the keyboard, experiencing technical problems on the latter that only added to the experience (there were also planned dissonances, from what I could tell). His playing was a mixture of the virtuosic and the deliberately erratic--he had a good deal of atonal fun on that keyboard (and I had fun listening; it was almost as fascinating to watch). As promised, it was a considerable divergence from anything I'd ever seen at the Madison, with songs that really appealed to me--songs about zombies, tree farms, and Rowdy Roddy Piper movies (I tried to make a joke about Hell Comes To Frogtown (1988) which I hope he didn't take the wrong way). One made some very clever references to 1984, casting Winston and Julia, of all people, as protagonists of a romantic ballad. Doomed lovers, to be sure, but I certainly wouldn't have thought about putting them in a love song if I wrote music. The title of one of his songs was "What Does God Want With A Starship?", which made me wish I'd been drinking milk so I could have made it come out of my nose. Not only does the guy have the finesse to use a Star Trek quote as a song title, but he uses one from FIVE (1989)!!! Classic, and an experience I don't think I'll ever forget.
I don't think I'll have any fun this evening, but I wasn't planning on it anyway.
*And now, after perusing the photos from the Madison, I realize I seem to have mixed up Chris Bathgate and Matt Jones. Maybe I really should flog myself with nettles.