Monday, August 25, 2008

When you get to meet your heroes....

Gigging in Windber was awesome..... and a little scary
So I went to this hotel, except it's not a hotel really anymore, it's more of a private residence for artists and weirdos with a taste for the dark and maccabre. Right up my alley..... Last year my roommate Christiane dragged me there to see her friend Ken Foley play drums with 2 of my favorite musicians ever, Gerald "Shotgun" Haymon and Dan Wasson. It was a poetry and jazz event, called Kerouac Fest. It's beside a railroad track used for hauling coal, in a small town called Windber. A man named Blair owns it, he bought it some years ago with his friends Damien Youth and Betsy Black. They came here from LA (both LA's, Los Angelos and Louisiana, perfect vampyre combo right?) and I am still not sure why, except they did what I have been telling people to do for years, and they figured it out all by themselves. They bought a massive piece of property in Pennsylvania for the cost of what they were spending to live in California for a couple of months. They own a 30 room motel and they host the oddest events, Big Foot parties and poetry performances. I am thrilled to say I was included in this years festivities. Blair asked me to come with my band, so Tony DePaolis, Colter Harper and Jacob Yoffee went out with the Amoeba and my friends Brother Strawberry and Sister Shortcake. None of us really knew what to expect, I made a set list, put the charts in order, got into our new mini van (we bought from cousin Shelley in Oklahoma) and drove 100 miles to this tiny little town just outside of Johnstown. (You may have heard me mention my old piano player and good friend Johnstown Flood Survivor Jeff Cubeta, now a resident of the NYC? Well, he nearly died laughing when I told him I was gigging in Windber, whatever, he'll find out how cool it was next time he comes through, I will make him take me there so we can sing the songs I am writing about the beautiful and truly odd people who live and work there.)

The last time I went to the Grand Midway Hotel with Christiane and Ken, when we arrived, some poor girl had seen a ghost and screamed so loudly the cops came, we arrived as they were leaving.... I am saying, scary.... Now I have an agreement with the ghosts in my house, they don't bother me and I don't bother them. It's cool if they feel a need to stay, I have no need to remove them or do anything drastic and odd, I just don't want to see them, I have nothing to say to them and they have nothing I need to know. I'm cool.... I don't know the ghosts at this place though, so I just keep the psychic wall up and so far so good. And the guys arrived, set up the gear, and we played. I am excited to say our set was nearly completely original, it has taken a while, but my show is not just a bunch of standards with 2 or 3 originals, now it is mostly our stuff with 2 or 3 chosen classics. It's been a journey I have enjoyed making but I am glad we are writing more now. What was super sweet was the audience, both alive and the not so much. They listened. They really listened. I haven't played a room where everyone just listened in I don't know how long. Usually people are there, but not tuned in, the audience is the most important part of any show and if they are there to get laid or get drunk or whatever, I don't judge, but it's just not as much fun for me. Blairs' friends are awesome, the little art community he is growing, like some mad gardener in a coal town, is incredible. I had a light photo taken by this wonderful artist named Adam Blai, I can't explain it, I will post it when I get the shots. So I digress, I haven't gotten to the part where my brain explodes, I got to meet one of my childhood heroes, and I was blessed with the opportunity to actually play with another.

David J from Bauhuas and Love and Rockets was staying at the Hotel and he got both my cd's!!!!! Aaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!! OHMIGOD like are you ferreal ferreal?!?!?! I tell you I spent my the entirety of my pubescence running naked through my bedroom chanting the lyrics to Earth, Sun, Moon, trapped in Altoona, PA mid 1980's..... Sure I went to Girl Scouts and sold cookies and took tap dance lessons and never got picked for dodge ball teams...... but I also wore my hair so far over one eye I actually atrophied it and made my own fan tee shirts , the one I wore most had so many holes in it by the time I turned 18 my mother burned it. But the top of it read "Love and Rockets" handwritten in black marker and followed by "Dead Milkmen" , "The Cure" and then "Louis Armstrong", don't ask, I don't know. It is just is..... So I met Joe Jack Talcum earlier this year at a gig at Mr Roboto Project and that was pretty incredible, but not completely unexpected at least he is from Pennsylvania, but meeting David J of Love and Rockets and Bauhaus.... in Windber yet.... let's just say it was a pretty unexpected bonus to an already incredible night of art and music in what I mistakenly thought would be a fairly unlikely setting. So that was hot, so hot it has taken me a week to process and write about it. Then he gave me an autographed copy of his new work "Silver for Gold, The Odyssey of Edie Sedgwick", that too is pretty incredible piece of work, he mentioned he may try to bring the show to Pittsburgh with the Warhol Museum, I don't know what is happening with those negotiations, but if it goes down, you know I am there.

So meeting David was fairly exciting, but then I didn't mention the sweetest part, I actually got to play with Jim Donovan, Colter called him up to sit in on our one tune "My Round Eyes" from the 1st cd by Christiane, and the first time I ever saw nekkid people in public was at a Rusted Root show when I was 16 at some warehouse art venue on the South Side early 90's. So actually like 15 years later getting to really play with one of my hometown heroes and having the sound just kick ass , that was a real thrill. I couldn't stay the rest of the weekend, at the hotel, I had a wonderful gig the next night in Pittsburgh at Hot House with Zafira, and I can't ever say no to the beautiful dancers of Zafira, so I didn have to leave, but trust me I will be back to Windber.... They have no idea what they have gotten themselves into. I already have penned 2 tunes about my time there. The first is about a boy from there named Dylan Fornoff, called "The Boy with the Sun in his Eyes" and the 2nd is about the coal train and the ghosts who stay in the Hotel, "Million Dollar Train".
I will post it when I have some video of the gig, Brother Strawberry is supposed to be getting me his footage soon.

No comments: