I’m looking at a ragged pile of 21 CDs that were released last year, with the aim of taking one song from each and compiling a tape. I do this every year. It makes me happy, though it does wake me up to the fact that I don’t give this music the attention it deserves. I feel guilty about it. I worry about getting my money’s worth out of each album. I worry about wringing every bit of appreciation I can from them. I worry about all that agonizing in the studio by people far more talented and brave than myself, only to have schmucks like me listen to their work, like, twice.
I think I did pretty well by them this year, though. Blackwater Park? I had that in rotation during my commutes to Wenco, and I reviewed it for the OP. Massive airtime. No More Shall We Part? Well, that’s the Mayne Island soundtrack. I should play it more at home, but I got all weepy the last time I did. Vespertine? That one’s kind of reserved for special occasions. New Dark Age? Empiricism? Mekano? Prometheus—the Discipline of Fire and Demise? Okay, now I feel guilty. Time to start listening again.
I only want to play gigs at the Cottage Bistro from now on. I was running late for my engagement with Blueshammer there on Saturday night—whether I was justifiably delayed or displaying some passive-aggressive tardiness, I won’t speculate. I was able to park right outside the door. That was a good sign. I lugged my gear inside, then sat down at the band table. Roger grabbed a pitcher and poured me a pint of Tree IPA. I kicked back to enjoy the hop picnic and watch our opening act do their golden oldies “Wake Up, Little Suzy” thing.
The Bistro stage is tiny. Once my kit is set up, there’s only a couple feet of clearance around it. So we move the mike stands out of the way, Roger sets up station on the floor, Carolyn bops around over by the door, nearly out of my line of sight. Murray stands in front of me, his elbows brushing against my cymbals now and again. It’s intimate, cramped, and fun. We were supposed to start quietly, but I don’t think we succeeded. The amps on either side of me seemed awfully loud. Murray’s combo was spitting out quite the raunch, but his volume knob was at 0.75. I gave it some welly with my splintering Lightning Rods™ and generally tried to make myself audible.
It was hot in there, so after the first set, I took a walk down Main. I stopped outside the Montmartre for a few minutes and watched the onstage action. A couple guys were belting out “Locomotive Breath” to fairly full house. I’ve had fantasies about Blueshammer doing some Tull for ages, but after throwing a couple song titles at them (“Teacher” and “New Day Yesterday”), we decided it was beyond our scope and went back to the Colin James tunes.
I gave the Tullsters a hand and went over to Cinephile to check out their Altman section. I’ve been wanting to see Three Women for ages… I saw it on Bravo when I was between jobs or on holiday or something. Shelley and Sissy shredded my heart like so much bocconcini. The clerk recommended Ghost World to a couple indecisives while I searched the shelves. They didn’t have Three Women, but they did have Paradise Lost 2. I’ll have to come back for that.
The Shockker came in while I was there, so we had a chat. He had seen me walk by from inside the Starry Dynamo, where he was watching a friend play. I’ve made him do enough hard time at Blueshammer gigs in the past, so I hadn’t told him about Saturday’s show. I invited him to swing by later and pick up a DCR CD, which he did.
That’s the kind of night it was—a succession of small, nice events. The crowd at the Bistro thinned out steadily, but I couldn’t take any offense. By 11:30 about half a dozen remained, including the honourable Mr. Black. We pared back our last set and were out of there shortly after midnight.
The belter and I were kept awake the next morning by a garrulous pigeon on the window ledge, amazingly audible through glass and venetian blinds. Flicking the blinds would fix the situation temporarily, but he’d quickly resume his assault on the world’s record for loudest sustained cooing. We gave up when Littlebelt decided she wanted feeding.
Sunday was packed with dangerous levels of tomfoolery. Before I had to go, the belter and I walked around the neighbourhood, drawing on poppies, roses, ball-chasing dogs, cats and shade to regain our equilibrium.
I ate more pancakes this weekend than I have in the last three years.