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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chapter 7-Fathers and Sons and Mothers and Daughters and Chicken and Waffles

(Being Chapter the 7th of the 2010 SxSw March into Spring Haiku and BBQ tour--a novella)

At the very crack of dawn--well, ok it's already 8:30---we all shuffle kitchenwards from whence the fragrance of coffee is emanating and Kenneth is cranking out Julia Child-style omelets. Oh. Yes. I have been working on my JC omelet technique--and I'm not bad at it. But as we learned on the previous tour, Andrew TOTALLY has it down. And Kenneth's version of the JC omelet, we learn today, is damned good, too.

I start quoting my favorite lines from the "Omelet Show" episode of Julia Child's 1960s show, The French Chef (I recently watched it at home, as I have the dvd set).
"Wait until the butter FOAMS, but don't let it BURN or it will taste CHEAP!" I squeak out my weak impersonation... Heh heh, terrible. But Meryl Streep portraying Julia Child in "Julie and Julia"--now, that is TOTAL genius. Dude.

We all munch on our omelets and toasts companionably. We chat & chat & smile & laugh and it's getting a wee bit later than we ever intended to leave. Oops. But it's my Aunt! My Uncle! MY MOMMY! They are amusing. And they are family. Finally we tear ourselves away. Bye, Mom! I love you--see you this summer in Portland at my cousin's wedding!! Mom looks a bit teary and I blink away a tear or three myself...

It's after 10:00. Uh oh. We have a house of cards schedulewise, with two different appointments in two different cities...we will just do out best. Off we hurry, and of course we are once again foiled by the disharmony between Texas roads and web-generated maps. HELLFIRE!

Then, when I call to warn the radio station folks at KANM in College Station, TX that we will be a teeny bit on the late side, there seems to be some question as to whether they even remember we are on the way. Uh oh. And then at about two hours into this four hour drive, Andrew gets a very unexpected call from his biological father, who suggests that they meet-- tonight--he's been following the band's progress on Facebook. They have never spoken before, but he lives nearby, well sort of--two hours from Austin, anyway. It could happen...mind-blowing.

Meanwhile, will we get to our radio interview on time? We scramble. We arrive in College Station. The staff of KANM scrambles, too. The Music Director, Grant, interrupts a nap to come interview us and play some True Margrit tunes for the listeners. All is well. And then we skip off to Austin-- we have our first SxSW event to attend. We are trying to get to town before 6pm for a party thrown by our distributor, BURNSIDE DISTRIBUTION CORP. And maybe if there's time, Andrew will meet his father...??

We do make it into town in time to catch the last band playing at the party. It's the reunion of a locally legendary punk band who beef up their stage show with the special guest appearance of a gymnastically skilled exotic dance troupe dressed skimpily and employing an official Olympic Regulation Stripper Pole in front of the stage for impressive gravity defying exertions that might be making the crowd dig the event even more--possibly--or, it is also possible that they couldn't eclipse the music any more than this, unless they were to smash all the band's musical instruments to powder. That's the question with gimmickry: if the special effects, explosions, fire, naked dancers are unrelenting will the listener really be listening or just looking? Are rock shows more rock and roll with them and hence greater than the sum of their parts--or less than? Well, it's all in the deployment, no doubt. I did hear negative comments murmured after their set. Nonetheless, I would STILL like a trapeze performance during OUR shows. No one else agrees. It is impractical, it's true. I would settle for an omelet-cooking demo. Or at least a Van der Graaf Generator experiment between songs.

The party breaks up. The crowd walks blinking out of the club into the Texas sunlight. We banter a bit with our distribution peeps, mill about, chat up a few folks about our SXSW show tomorrow night. Andrew disappears down a side street. Gary & I schmooze a bit more then go locate our drummer. We find him a few blocks away. He's got his computer out on the bar at a fancy-ish restaurant. He's working. And drinking some cold beers. He tells that us his father is going to come meet him here...in a while. WOW! I wonder if his head will just explode. Ouch.

I'm very hungry now and this particular restaurant is too pricey for my budgetary considerations. Gary is game to hunt and gather with me and experience local food-- let's go! We don't get far before we are seduced by the Fried Chicken and Waffle truck. We chow down happily on these oily delicacies and go back to check on Andrew.

No bio-parent yet. Just as we prepare to head out again, a man enters the restaurant. He scans the room and there's a moment we can see him in profile. He has Andrew's exact jawline/chin. Whoa, he is shorter but there's a VERY strong resemblance. Genes. Is there nothing they can't do? This is Andrew's father. He sees us and comes over to the bar. We make intros all around. And then Gary and I make a graceful exit--they have some catching up to do.

We stroll down 6th street and marvel at the massive crowds forming into lines at all the super-famous Austin rock venues. It is now dusk. We are filled with fried chicken and anticipation. We pass club after club in which bands are kicking into their sets, guitars ringing, cymbals crashing, applause breaking out. This night is alive with the immediacy of loud rock music being played by living breathing humans and breathing living listeners crowding in to listen and watch and enjoy...and drink beer. I stand in the middle of the street for a moment and take in the clashing genres doing battle in the air: distorted headbang-inducing guitar tones mingle with delicate acoustic fingerpicking, a lazy bluesy lick is superseded by a manic thumping kickdrum and the splash of a high-hat, all blanketed by a general low mid range ROAR and HUM, and is that, yes, a bagpipe being played by yonder dude in a kilt.

We see many BBQ restaurants on our survey around Austin and experience regret about not having room in our stomachs for more meat. We wander for a few hours, but ultimately we end up at the venue we are appearing at tomorrow, Darwin's Pub. We listen to the Clea Roddick band's set. They have the same instrumentation as us--piano/voice, bass, drums--so I feel emboldened to go say hey. She tells me that they normally have a much bigger band, but, as they traveling from Canada they kept it simple for this trip. Ahhh, that's too bad--I like trios! That's the ideal lineup for a band.

We turn around and steer in the direction of where Andrew and the truck are parked. But Gary is now peckish and is forced to order some BBQ from the Stubbs BBQ takeout window. He says it's a bit dry-- but it must be pretty good, because he manages to choke it down.

We meet back up with Andrew who has survived having his mind completely blown what with the three-hour synopsis with his father. We get out the directions to our hosts' place. It is supposed to be ten minutes from downtown. We drive for twenty minutes. We have to face it. We are lost and have to call for help--fortunately it's not very late yet. Julie and David guide us expertly to their lovely house. We get out of the truck and they commence helping us carry our stuff in--WOW!

"No, please, you don't have to help!"
"oh no, we are glad to!"

OH my goodness! This is serious hospitality!

They offer us drinks and we all settle in in the living room for some conversation. Julie and I try to remember the last time we were together, but it has just been too long--fifteen, twenty years? We were neighbors growing up, her cat was my cat's mom, and Julie (and her sisters) used to babysit me when I was a youngster in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Whoa. Later, Julie and I both lived in Knoxville while I was in high school/college. We reminisce about going to see Yes in Nashville. Yeah. Ok. And now Julie's a mom with a nine-year-old daughter. We talk about how great my mother is. I know. She is the sweetest. I tell Julie that I saw my mom this very morning. But that seems like twenty years ago. And now my mind is a teeny bit blown, too.

When I finally lie down and compose myself for the night's repose, I can still hear that musical stew from the streets of Austin in my mind's ear. In my mind's eye, I can see the faces of everyone we talked to today. I can see a diagram showing generations of lineage of my family and Gary's, and Andrew's, and Julie's.

Presently, I sleep.


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