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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chapter 8-Unnatural Selection

(Being Chapter the 8th of True Margrit's 2010 March into Spring Haiku & BBQ Tour--a novella)

March 18th, 2010
Around 9:30 a.m. I crack open an eyelid and remember---ooh, today is THE BIG DAY
(well, there are other BIG DAYS but this is one). First, we have a meeting with our radio promoter at the Austin Hilton and he says he just may have some good news for us--which makes us feel famous. Then we have time to gather our wits and perhaps sample some Texas BBQ delicacies--and then at 7:30 we play our first gig at South by Southwest at Darwin's Pub.

When I come downstairs Andrew is already on coffee number two and is all situated on Julie & David's dining room table, his laptop whirring. Witness the early bird in action, generating websites like so many feathery nests! And also tweeting with avian abandon about True Margrit.

I drink some tea, raiding Julie & David's jar of fancy honey. Yum! I reflect upon the phenomenon of humans eating bee secretions, it's all natural...if you're a being known as bee. For humans, it's an unnatural selection. And I perversely relish that.

Gary emerges from his esteemed repose and in moments we are all tapping away companionably at our laptops. Soon enough this scene of cozy domesticity must end--it is time to line up the shower queue. Despite my laggardly morning behavior we get out of the house and into the truck and on the way in a more or less timely manner.

When we get to downtown Austin it is catastrophically slow driving around, what with the hordes of festival participants milling about en route to shows, panels, and appointments with plates of smoked pork. Andrew is getting mildly flustered. Where to leave the truck? Andrew wildly inflates the likely number of garages we will find in which to park. We bicker about it in haiku.

Parking garages
Billions is hyperbolic
Probably. Shut up

We park in the Marriot garage, we get ourselves to the Austin Hilton, we meet our music biz contact, and we ceremoniously sign some papers that could be the first steps that lead to... well, I don't want to jinx it, but we might get songs on TV! We'll see. Our finger are crossed and hope is detectable in the spring air. Or is that BBQ?

After this propitious occasion, we go to the Blind Pig Pub and visit the Performers' Booth to sign in at the Red Gorilla Fest. Red Gorilla is one of the numerous satellite events that orbits South by Southwest, caught in the gravitational pull of this behemoth rock festival phenomenon. The Red Gorilla organizers are super nice and generously direct us to the Blind Pig's back deck. There is free food, live music, free ear plugs being handed out, and apparently some celebrity is taking pics with fans... we go upstairs to investigate. Gary & I graze on the meat & veggies being offered, but Andrew is apparently saving himself for the Ideal Texas BBQ Moment. He disappears for a bit. He comes back presently to inform us that if we want to queue up, we can take photos with the guy who played Mini Me--it's some promotional offer via an a earplug company, or caffeine drink, or--who knows really. We get in line and I have a camera at the ready to capture the shot of our shaved-headed rhythm section posing with this recognizable celeb, with his similar coiffure. In a moment, Andrew comes back chagrined. Gary looks disgusted.

"Oops," Andrew chuckles. "I called him, 'Mr Me'-- I was trying to be respectful and all--and then he wouldn't take a photo with us cuz I don't know his real name..."

"Did you not know his name either?" I ask Gary. Gary shrugs no. Oh well. I hear someone nearby whisper, "Verne Troyer, y'all!". We move on to another venue...one with great BBQ, perhaps.

We wander about taking in the sights, sounds and smells of daytime South by Southwest. Festival-goers are already drinking, musicians are playing tunes, the crowds are listening to tunes-- some are starting to look a bit worse for the wear...hmmm, and it's only Thursday. We run into a San Francisco duo, The Ferocious Few, playing on the street next to The Hot Dog King. I have heard them playing many times in my hood (most memorably on Election Night 2008 at one of the zillions of spontaneous street parties in San Francisco celebrating the big regime change). Gary recently mastered their CD, so he says hey to them.

Lunch is a hard decision with so many tantalizing options from which we must select a single experience--almost an unnatural selection to be forced to make--but after all, we only have one stomach each. We finally settle on sandwiches at a BBQ stand that has a fragrant mini-smokehouse behind their counter/ truck. As we sit enjoying our tasty-as-hell pulled pork, we see more San Francisco friends! David Katznelson of Birdman Records happens by with his wife and they hang out chatting for a few moments. How about that! Maybe if we sit still eating we will see more San Francisco compatriots passing by...

After lunch we visit an Austin treasure: the Tears of Joy hot sauce store. Gary & Andrew are hot sauce connoisseurs, so we are here for quite a spell, as they try the samples, ask question, and shop. I witness a hot sauce incident-- one of the proprietors dares a young man to try a toothpick-tip sized drop of some hot sauce that is basically pepper spray. The guy tries it, then starts coughing, then runs out on the street, coughing violently, then comes back in and buys a pint of milk (conveniently available in the cooler). After the milk his coughing subsides. Whoa. Gary tries a minuscule taste of the danger-sauce also from the tip of a toothpick--his eyes go slightly wider, but he otherwise keeps his cool. He points out that perhaps she gave the other guy more of the fiery stuff. She is impressed. Gary shrugs humbly--he is a pro. Andrew and he both joyously buy some various rare hot sauces. I observe all the foregoing with amused detachment. Hot sauces are definitely one of those perverse unnatural selections--but not mine.

It is now time to get to our venue. We accomplish the necessary juggling of gear to Darwin's Pub from the parking garage. As I labor round the corner from 6th Street with the burden of my keyboard, I see our friend, the fabulously talented singer/ keyboardist, Kevin Seal of the San francisco band, Griddle!! WOW! He gallantly grabs my keyboard from me and takes it to the club. Thanks, man! Then like a puff of smoke, he's off into the night--he's the head of the video department for Pandora and he has a LOT to document here in Austin.

In due course, we set up our gear and play our set. During the evening here at Darwin's, the crowd has ebbed and flowed with the festival's intricate and multifarious tides, but towards the last third of our set, listeners have filled in the remaining seats to check us out. We end the set with a febrile version of "Syllable" and I jump off the stage to high-five almost everyone standing or sitting by the stage. I love adrenaline. In honor of our venue's (possible) namesake, Charles Darwin, I invoke adrenaline as a TOTALLY natural selection which I can enjoy either perversely or non-perversely. Come to think of it, when saber-toothed tigers chased my ancestors, they who were the most hopped up on adrenaline survived to generate scions who could make more scions who could in turn become adrenalized whilst making music even though saber-toothed tigers are now extinct and there is no tangible need for fight or flight. Thus, becoming adrenalized while playing rock music is both a natural and an unnatural selection. Yep.

During our set I spotted my dear old friend from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, David Snyder listening and smiling. After the show he and I have a blast catching up on old and new times. We wander about Austin watching street performers and chatting.

At this point it has been HOURS since the BBQ lunch, so True Margrit and David Snyder deem it is high time we go out for Vietnamese food. I am feeling the sense of relief that washes over one after a big gig. I devour a massive plate of noodles. Yum. Someone tells a joke or perhaps an amusing anecdote. I laugh so hard my contact lens flips into a little ball way up in the farthest northern reaches of my eyelid. Ouch..it is time to go home.

We get lost briefly on the way back to Julie & David's house. DAMMIT! it's hard on the old pride to call for help--again. But soon enough we are back at our current base camp and I'm able to extricate the crinkled contact lens from my eye and give my beleaguered eyes a good rinse with saline solution.

Phew. And with clean eyes, full stomach, and ringing ears I slumber.

2 Comments:

Blogger Gary said...

Actually I DID know he was Verne Troyer. But nobody asked before Mr. Me took Andrew's lack of knowledge re: semi celebrities of small stature and large egos so personally!

Wed Apr 21, 12:39:00 AM PDT  
Blogger limey59 said...

THAT was a good read! (Mr ME?)
Good on ya Margrit!
SXSW sounds like the place to be! Will have to give it a whirl sometime!
All the best!

Sun Apr 25, 04:45:00 AM PDT  

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