Saturday, May 31, 2014

Easter 40 and 41: The joy of collaboration


Katie, Joe, RL and Pat: Stay Awhile

Steven S in again. Dividing up jobs with David S.

Pat has arrived for our weekly check in session. Update that to do list. We finish just in time for me to go meet Katherine and head to Williamsburg to see if I actually made it into the film part of the Representatives performance piece Tell. Took five hours to film one line.


I did. One line, 18 very dramatic seconds….

Outside on the steps, Keith approached me. All smiles. Tells me he’s in love. Needs to buy some roses. Some yellow roses of Texas  for his lady. He’s doing the This isn’t the marine, this is Keith routine. The marine was a warrior. But Keith just needs to love and be loved…

Well, all right then…

I am working real hard to finish my work promoting the Goodman 50th anniversary event. I’m anxious about this. Jeremy M walks in. He wants to know what I’m working on, so I mention Rider... and Jeremy walks to the piano and starts knocking out a rolling piano version of I know you Rider gonna miss me when I’m gone..and soon I’m singing and I just know I’m going to do that song tonight. I knew it all day. Like there’s a song and I’m afraid to try it and also know that I ultimately have no choice.

Jeremy’s  hungry. I’ve got a long night ahead, so we walk to the Gate together for burgers.  While we’re there, RL walks by the open window where we’re sitting and interrupts to say Hi. ( Actually he asks if he can buy two for the balcony…) And Jeremy and I spend an hour talking about Jesus and empire and East German author  Stefan Heym and his King David Report and Wes Howard-Brooks’ Come Out my People and how they’re making  the same point  about how much of the Hebrew Scripture began as a mythic apology for Solomon’s empire and Jose Saramago and all of  sudden it’s late and I’ve only got a little time to practice before Esther shows up to rehearse. But that’s part of why I love Jeremy.

Esther arrives and it’s my job to get us over our mutual shyness and start us singing together. I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I learned my soccer mom friend was a rock’n’roll back up singer. In a band with Katie R, from the old P&G music gang, now relocated to West-Park. We get through one of mine. And then Pat O arrives and we start working on Hank Williams. Then  David S tells us he’s not feeling well and that he’s not feeling well and Pat will have to cover for him on sound.  And perform. Whoa.

Pat goes to check that out and Esther starts playing a Bonnie Raitt Song. And then People Get Ready…she’s really good. But really shy. And then Katie’s there and we’re into Down to the River to Pray…And when we’ve got the 3 part gospel harmony down on  that, I go get Pat. And now we go to work on Rider and soon enough Pat is roiling and the harmonies are coming. And I get then into the a capella break., OK, we’ll do this thing. We go over my original one time. Katie says, You’re not looking t each other, you’ve got to make like it’s about you two…I know what she means. Someone long ago told that to me. Well I’m not making  googly eyes, says Esther. Nonono, I say, just watch me….

Open Mic is underway. There ‘s a young woman from the UK, Anastasia, who pretty much rocks.
Anastasia rocks
A young R&B guy who get lost until RL tells him, sing a sing you sing walking down the street, pretend we’re not here…

Dion and his inimitable stylings. (Congratulations Dion on your scholarship for continuing ed, by the way…) Soon enough, there’s no more avoiding it…we’re up.
There's only one Dion

Esther, Katie, Pat, Bob: So Lonesome I Could Cry
Esther and I open with my Well… song. Then we bring Katie up with her violin and Pat and his guitar and are ready to start So Lonesome…And the lyrics are not there. Katie and Pat riff while I do a quick search. Ah, no…So I say to Esther, just watch me…and we just kill it…She does the country serious. And Katie gets an surprise round of applause for her violin break before the final verse.

I describe how Rider goes back to the 30’s and the Lomax field recordings. Used to be woman blues. Or black woman blues. And there’s the sweet high voice Joan Baez preDylan acoustic version. The Byrds jinglyjangly psychedelic version. And of course the Dead. And Hot Tuna. String Cheese Incident. And this is ours. How I was in a folks duo in college and my partner Linda went away to San Francisco for the summer and came back and said we had to change. She’s been exposed to the Dead. And so she led me into Rider. And a band. And I was never the same again. Musically speaking. Yeah, lots of versions. This one’s ours. 
i Know You Rider....

Esther’s not ready to take the lead yet, so we do an a capella Down to the River to pray, following Katie’s lead. And one again, the harmonies are all there. I’d forgotten the joy of working ensemble. Two-three voices dancing around each other in harmony. Seeing what goes, what stays. Working to get it right. Having to watch each other. Move in rhythm and spirit together. I’d forgotten how good that makes me feel. And also forgotten to turn in the zoom recorder.  OK, another time, I guess.

It takes awhile to come down. I’m settling down to listen to Joel when Keith comes in and sits beside me. A few faces askance, remembering his banishment. So I take him outside. His woman has disappeared.Since last night. He keeps going over This isn’t the marine, pastor, this is Keith, he had to come out again…
OK, we’ve been down this road before. By the time he gets to the yellow roses, I’m wondering why so many time he sounds like a script from a TV show. An afternoon TV show. But that’s not my concern. I need to respond objectively to where he is. She’s been gone since last night.So why didn't you tell me that this afternoon?, I ask.
He looks at me.
I just didn't want to  believe it. Pastor, this is Keith, not…
Yeah, look you’ve got two things to do. Go home. Wait. If she doesn't show by midnight, call 911 and file a missing person;s report. There’s nothing else you can do.
But pastor…
There’s nothing else you can do. He nods. Keep me posted. He nods again. Walks down the street.

I make the end of Joel’s set. The there’s Joe. And Joe recites a poem. Jose Saramago. Damn. Second appearance today.  And Pat. Usual fine stuff.  And then  RL calls up Katie.
Katie and RL
She told me outside how when she’s there helping RL with Harvey, in the late afternoon, when the sun’s going down, she loves to listen to RL sing.He’s called her up for Rustling winds…a very romantic song. I loved you once….her violin weeps. And before he finishes, RL is choking up.

We’re outside talking when RL calls us back in. We have to hear this new guy. Sam. A tall drink of water folksinger who does these talking buses style early Dylan/ArloGuthrie style intros. He’s halfway through a song. RL walking up cane in hand. Startles Sam. Has him start over, so we
can hear the whole song. The last folksinger in New York…Once again, the weekly surprise.

The last act is the old cowboy, Country Joe. Who calls Pat, tonight’s go to guy, to accompany him for King of the Road and Kansas City. An then RL and Katie and Joe and Pat take us out with Stay Awhile. Like always.

We invite Sam to meet us at the Gate and e agrees. It’s been a  night of collaboration. And I feel very happy. Very happy. 
Pat...with Country Joe

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