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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Dear readers, here's a recap of what's gone down in October thus far:

Sunday, Oct 9th at YOSHI's San Francisco LOUNGE--ooh
Sonic Zen Records/ Bay Vibes has been running a songwriters unplugged series at Yoshi's for a few years. October is their last month at that venue, so I'm glad I got to play on account of the fancy factor, meeting the nice people involved, and the free sushi.

What was it? Three songwriters trading mini-sets: Lisa-Marie Johnston, Lea Grant, and me in this installment. It's not quite the truly Attention-Deficit-Disorder-friendly format of switching between performers after one song, but mini-sets nonetheless keep the evening rolling along. My voice refused to warm up, but it didn't matter in the end: I plugged away at some brand-new tunes--and dare I say it, it was strangely invigorating being the sloppy, slap-happy, slacker/savant of the evening (and alliterative, too). Lisa-Marie and Lea both sang flawlessly, they have rad tunes, and we had a great supportive attentive group digging it all. There were thrills, chills, and spills of sake. Domo arigato Yoshi's and Bay Vibes.

Saturday, October 15th 2011
Noe Valley Harvest Festival (Church Street & 24th--next to Happy Donuts)

Sunshine!! Yes, sunshine-- though common in California, is notable if you saw us here last year: it was the opposite day last Harvest Fest. Yes, spare a sad emoticon for True Margrit getting deluged by the deluge in 2010. In addition to sunshine, 2011's Noe Vally Harvest fest featured a tall raised stage---ooh.

Kif, the child-prodigy Noe-valley phenom, did a short sparkly set before we played. He' a tough act to follow, and as we took the stage we felt like ancient and gigantic hulks in contrast. However, we soon received love from the horde--for, once we started playing, wildly gyrating 4-year-old fans began kindergarten moshing in front of the stage--most amusing (and distractingly hilarious). We debuted the new song, "Goldstar" incorporated into a medley with "Superhero Drugs" ( among other wholesome treats). During our ballad, "Great Praise, the moshing halted, and at one point I looked down and standing right below me was a wee girl listening intently with eyes narrowed with an intensely pensive mien, as if pondering the existential ramifications of the lyrics. Whoa. We wound up our set with "Comforting the Castaways". Then the dog costume contest took the stage and blew us away...that's show biz.

PS The Noe Valley's Farmer's Market just released a compilation CD (upon which we have a song: "Please Move Your Car"). Proceeds help them keep having an AWESOME famer's market--which is great for everyone.

Thursday October 20th
1st Driving Day for 2011 Autumn Adventure/ The Chicken that Dare Not Speak Its Name Tour
(Bad Road Food (part 1)--Salt Salad and Bloody Chicken

Gary and I managed to leave SF by 8:00 am. And if you aren't impressed you don't know any musicians. That's an early bird in these parts.

We made pretty good time all the way up to Weed, CA where we stopped for Gary to grab some coffee and a scone. We decided to zoom on to Ashland, OR to eat at The Wild Goose--a rare eatery right off the freeway that is not a chain, and is often pretty palatable. We got there in due course and settled down to our lunches. Unfortunately, my smoked salmon cesar was mercilessly salty. It was so wildly overdressed with too many anchovies, smoked fishes, and parmesans combining on too little lettuce (and with the added insult to injury of stale croutons) as to fill me with a rare sodium-fueled indignation. Chalk it up to mis-ordering. I thought, "The next meal will make up for it."

Uh oh. The worst was yet to be visited upon my stomach.

We met up with the infamous Reverend Marc Time (of Sunday Morning Hangover and Eugene Storefront Art Project fame) at the Pioneer Restaurant--which is somewhere between Junction City and Salem--or somewhere. Whatever. Don't go. This truckstop diner has no reason or right to be good--and it isn't! I ordered chicken --the menu said it was "broasted" which I must have misinterpreted, because it was simply fried chicken. The wing tasted pretty good, actually-- although barely deserving of the name fried chicken next to Andrew's diabolically great version of which we fantasize often. After devouring the wing, I took a big bite of the breast--which (though it sounds funny) was sad. Instead of the running of clear juices that signify thoroughly cooked fowl meat, there was blood to be seen. I say: gross. Naturally, there were profuse apologies from the Pioneer staff--and new chicken was whisked to me. Well, it took twenty minutes, but who's counting. Anyway. Marc was amused, because when we ate there another time he witnessed me when I sent back tepid tea (which I believe he thought was diva-ish of me, but bloody chicken is an actual safety issue...Marc). I texted Andrew to warn of my imminent case of salmonella/ botulism but spellcheck changed it to "salmonella/ nihilism". That too.

Friday, October 21st
Tour Kickoff Gig in Olympia at 4th Ave Tavern!
(the redemption of Cambodia via Tacoma)

Before the show we needed to eat something really great to fortify us for the rock and to make up for the previous day's food horrors. Heather & Andrew recommended a Cambodian restaurant near their house called Mitapeap ... ok, I'm not sure how it's pronounced, but luckily this conversation is written so I don't sound so bad... but the point is: if you're in Tacoma you must eat there, it's AMAZING. Great cold spring rolls--so fresh! Evanescent stir-fried catfish, sublime wonton soup. It's no joke.

Replete with deliciousness, off we went to Olympia and 4th Ave Tavern to play our gig. There we heard sets from Lijie and Roxi Copland, and then we burned through a dozen of our tunes, tore down our shit, chatted with peeps, and took off. It was 2:30 am when we got back to Andrew's and we were starving...all over again--crazy! But then, it was 8 hours since dinner, we realized. Heather & I shared the leftover soup from Mitapeap. So good. Lord bless the to-go container and she who takes the time to request it ( Heather). And to all a good night.

Saturday, October 22
Portland's Mississippi Pizza Pub

I must disclose (in the interest of full disclosure) that my very own brother books this venue. But slow down haters, before you cry nepotism on my house, just know that we were booked TWICE on our musical merits alone at this fine establishment before Dan worked there, thus showing we are not recipients of special treatment.

Anyhoo. Andrew sped us down to Portland, pulled up the truck to the venue, and we heaved gear out onto the sidewalk. Dan arrived, chatted with us (but didn't hug because he had a terrible cold), the band in the early spot finished their set & dragged gear out the door, we rustled gear in, set up, and commenced our tunes.
It sounded quite nice. It's a nice venue! During the set I tried to shout-out to both upcoming acts, but I blanked on their names: I called Dream Cannon Dream Weaver and I called Gloom Catcher River Empires ( their old/ alternate name). Dammit! mental weakness aside, we had some extra nice versions--especially of "Comforting the Castaways". The 50 minutes went by in an eyeblink--oops we were supposed to do 45. Well... what's five minutes among bands? We took our gear back out the door and tucked it into the truck for the night. The other bands got up and did their thing, we ate an excellent half pepperoni/ half mushroom pie, we listened, we visited with Dan & my nephew, Elan (aka Might Misc. We visited with Andrew's colleague, songwriter, Eric Stewart, then we headed back to Tacoma. Done and done.

Sunday, October 23
Seattle: EL Corazon

Well, I do not think we have yet found the perfect venue/ bill for True Margrit in Seattle as of yet, but El Corazon was surprisingly fun and had these attributes in its favor: a big loud stage on which to rock with Andrew's full drumkit, a bill with a big loud lineup, it's all ages, and there was an amazingly attentive audience made up of the bands and their fans. And amongst the hard rock acts we got to hear the fantastic Mary Lambert who has an insanely pretty-but-also-raw-versatile voice and strongly realized tunes with layers and ribbons of meaning.

Plus. Something interesting always happens when we play in Seattle--at our first gig in town, we met Heart's drummer, Ben Smith, who was drawn into the bar we were playing when he heard "Opposite Man". Another time, a woman told me she liked the "rigatoni" I played on the piano (not sure--did she mean arpeggio??). And once, we had sausages from a cart at 1:30 am after our gig--that is all kinds of sublime.

On this particular occasion, we were all ever-so famished after the show--dinner had not happened. We drove around in the obligatory rain (rain in Seattle--what?). We found a strip with many restaurants, we chose Pho Cyclo cafe and trooped in. The staff sadly shook their heads at us. And we turned away dejectedly. Perhaps in pity of our tragic demeanor, they changed their collective mind and shepherded us back in.

Oh joy oh soup
Hot curling steam rises
Oh broth so rich
Oh basil so piquant
Beansprout so crunchy
Friend or Pho
After your show
To Cyclo Cafe


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