...being the observations and navigational extracts
from the ongoing expeditions of San Francisco Piano Pop trio
True Margrit

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

River Wild

Friday May 12, 2006, Lowell, MA

Sarah & I take the 8 am train to Boston, and the T to the bus station, the Lucky Star bus to New York (only 15 bucks!) , and the subway to Brooklyn & end up meeting Gary at Voxpop Cafe in Brooklyn around 6:45 pm. The headliner of the bill,
NIcole Steed, is there already, and she is setting up a keyboard stand & I learn to my great joy that not only is there a keyboard for me to play, but it is full-size (88 keys, that is) with a lovely damper pedal (we didn't bring gear on this leg of the tour). We know Gary's friend Charlie is kindly bringing his keyboard too, but we also know it only has 61 keys and no pedal--or even a jack in which to plug a pedal. My anxiety over my ability to play a set of non-sustaining and truncated piano is over, and I thank the ever-so-generous Nicole for sharing her rig with me (and I thank Charlie too cuz his keyboard would have, after all, done the trick just fine--I just like to play lots of notes).

Gary's entire family arrives, as well as my dear friends Liz Asch and Alice Bierhorst --who is a fabulous singer/songwriter/drummer/ guitarist. We play a longish set, including a rare performance of "The Power of Music"-- which is not really a song--but more of a set-piece that appears when I'm particularly loopy & sleep-deprived. It tends to happen in a venue strewn with children's books (although a newspaper will do in a pinch). And you may ask, what is it? Well, it involves reading a brief excerpt from a book and accompanying it first with gloomy, or even dissonant chords, and then the same excerpt with sweet major chords. On this occasion I found a Big Bird book (a literary touchstone), and then, when I played the major chords I accidentally activated the metronome on Nicole's keyboard. I thought it was a nice touch.

After the show we go to Fortunado Brothers in Williamsburg and eat the most perfect canoli and gelato. Oh oh oh the pristine ricotta and the crunchy shell. Oh yes. The Power of Pastry. Good in any key.

Saturday, May 13, NYC

Day off! We have delicious knishes at Yona Shimmels. Perfection.

Sunday, May 14

We head over to the Museum of Natural History to see the Darwin Exhibit (cuz Charles Darwin is my hero). However, it's an additonal 20 bucks for Darwin, so we just check out the regular museum, which is plenty cool. We particularly enjoy the Hall of Biodiversity with it's dizzying displays of annelida to crustacean to mammal to rotifer. We follow science with pizza at Two Boots (scrumptious! I have mushroom, influenced by our museum trip--fungus: part of biodiversity!) and then head down the the street to Sidewalk Cafe for the last gig of the tour.

The Sidewalk Cafe's listening room is kept almost pitchblack during sets with a jumble of tables, and a spotlit stage with an upright piano. We are allotted a brief set, so we savor it and glory in it as much as we can, swinging through a particularly loungey version of the brand new "Juggler's Progress" as well as our Seaworthy (and a few other) staples. I have yet another cold at this point ( Flu Margrit) and can't in all fairness be held completely responsible for some of the more dubious notes I sing. But it's fun playing a real piano in all of it's acoustical, dynamic, and de-tuned glory. The crowd is generous during and after our set with applause & tips. And then..wow! It's over! I feel a bit sad, since there's not telling how soon we can get back to play in these parts again. We say goodbye to our friends with a sniffle.

Outside it has turned misty and chill and we head off in search of felafel.

Monday, May 15

We take a subway to the bus to the subway to the train and arrive in Lowell at 4pm. During the three days we were gone, it has rained 12 inches and the (already rugged-looking by my reckoning) Merrimac has swollen into a real-live raging torrent. Many folk are being evacuated in the lower lying areas in New England--so it is really no party. We go down by the river after dinner and hundreds of Lowellites are there checking out the brute force of Nature in this impressive display of fury. Looking northwards up the Merrimac where the falls normally drop a few feet, there now roar full-on class VI rapids. Suddenly a series of ambulances, firetrucks and cop cars rush by sirens wailing. We hear from a nearby woman that two guys are adrift in a canoe with no paddle. She avers,"That is so stupid--if I was a cop I wouldn't help 'em. Fuck 'em!" We hear other comments in that vein , but soon the crowd has moved upriver where the road is washed out to watch some firemen who are standing by on the bank with a zodiac raft at the ready above the falls. The suspense mounts. And then, abruptly they take the raft, stow it on the rack and drive away. The canoe has been rescued farther upstream.

They are safe, though deemed foolish by all and sundry. Not unlike touring musicians.

1 Comments:

Blogger Gary said...

I really enjoyed both of our NY sets. It was the first time my parents have ever seen me play professionally, my Sweet 16 niece got to see her new bass and amp in action, and it was lovely to see so many friends from the distant (college) and recent past (erstwhile San Franciscans Alice, Liz, Laura, Suzie)- and we made some cool new fans along the way (LJ, if you're reading this, this means you.

The Sidewalk Cafe set was particularly loosey-goosey and fun, if short. Like Hamden's The Space, it's one of those places that treats musicians like artists, and not just a side attraction to sell their beer.

But would it kill them to tune the piano twice a year or so?

Thu May 18, 01:11:00 AM PDT  

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