Saturday, October 25, 2003
Vance Gilbert and Ellis Paul at Cellar Stage in Baltimore October 11, 2003
Today, October 11th is Vance Gilbert's birthday, and he is spending it with his best friend Ellis Paul and all of us giving us the present of his music!
The woman in front of me, in the line at the door, is carrying 2 pretty gift bags. She tells me her name is Yetta. Since this is Vance's birthday and she heard Ellis Paul recently got married, she brought a present for each. She saw them both earlier this fall in Princeton New Jersey. She lives in the DC area, and has already seen them in Philadelphia. She became a fan because Nils Lofgren started touring again with the E Street Band (you know, Bruce Springsteen's tour). She had been seeing Nils Lofgren on a regular basis locally and when he started touring she wanted to find out someone else to see. I believe she said she found out about Ellis Paul on Nils web site (though I don't see a reference there now.) Anyway, she saw Ellis Paul and became a huge fan of his, and through him of Vance. She sits in the first row with the gift bags under her chair.
So there are some "real" fans here tonight. The woman in the couple sitting behind Yetta speaks up too. She and her partner went to see Ellis Paul with Don Conoscenti at Club Passim.
When Vance and Ellis take the stage, jokes and music are intermingled.
Everyone knows that Vance and Ellis are two straight guys (married to women, not that there is anything wrong with another preference), and they are best friends. They have written songs about each other. Vance jokes - it's my birthday and tonight for my birthday I am going to be gay - I can be whatever I want to be on my birthday. But Ellis retorts - well that has no effect on me. A few minutes later he comments - and I have 3 months of this left (on this tour)… and - we refer to ourselves as the Indigo Boys.
Vance calls Cellar Stage the "bowels of the church coffeehouse".
Ellis - Get Ready for Life
Tony Sica, DJ of the show Detour on WTMD and spouse of the event coordinator walks by with 2 Yankee hats on (a 2000 world series hat, with a regular Yankee's hat on top of it.) Ellis comments, Tony we really don't like the Yankees here. (Well let's forgive Tony a little, especially if the Yankees lose. He can't help himself, he grew up in New York - actually did Joyce say Brooklyn?)
Vance - Why Are We So Cruel
Ellis - Sweet Mistakes - about living your life, and gratitude…
Vance - Unfamiliar Moon
Ellis - The Speed of Trees
Presented with a birthday cake before the break, Vance waves the candles out by fanning them with his guitar.
After the break, before re-introducing the performers, Joyce Sica tells us that there is guy in the audience from California. He waves and she impulsively asks him, so whom did you vote for (for Governor). His reply, the Green Party candidate.
Ellis - The World Ain't Slowin Down
Vance - 10,000 Skies - all of them blue
Ellis - She Was
Vance - Unforgettable You
At the end Ellis jokes - I'd like to thank Vance Gilbert and all of his multiple personalities (for appearing with me tonight)
Ellis - Wilbur the Rat - as Ellis sings this Vance dances like a ballerina on the stage, well not exactly like a ballerina…
The transition is backwards - they go from the Wilbur the Rat, to the sublime. Stepping away from the mikes, they walk down the steps to the front of the audience to sing the moving "Citizen of the World" - "I am an American born of …. " - and then bringing before us the faces and characteristics of so many nationalities and finally…. Citizen of the world.
A huge poster sized birthday card for Vance has been circulating through the overflow crowd tonight. When presented to Vance he calls it "adorable" and pretends to read from it. Surely no one wrote "ditch the white guy". Ellis takes it saying "I want to sign this now."
Conversation with a Ghost - "how have you been, have you been to the races…"
I saw Ellis Paul several years ago (at the Panzer House Concerts actually). His CD's are great, however I am reminded tonight how very very rich his live performance are. And he and Vance Gilbert together are priceless. I envy these folks I talked to who have seen several of their joint shows. Please guys, come together to this area more often.
Monday, October 20, 2003
We're About Nine at Park School October 10, 2003
Before the show, Rebecca, a a huge We're About Nine fan and student at Park School ( a Baltimore independent school for very bright students} tells us she helped get We're About Nine here to her school.
There is another band also at the sound check. Turns out they are not the openers, they are the "middlers".
I knew We're About Nine were the headlines and they play first. Their set includes:
Port Wine - this audience chuckles as young Brian sings "I didn't age well" - and then is I think spellbound as the complex lyrics follow.
Pat sings One More Love Song - and tells us this song is a movie, Cold Harbor that was at the Senator recently
Katie does Move Like Light - and the band asks the school (which has progressive classes) don't they have a rock class here. And did they see the movie - the School of Rock...
Reading You - and the 3 vocalists all sing different lyrics, a great arrangement
Time for the "Middler" - as Rebecca later discloses on We're About Nine's Yahoo fan list, the "middler" is jazz group of Park School students, and since the headliners, We're About Nine were new to many, the planners wanted to make sure the audience got to know and love them first and not just come for the students they know and then leave. Wise move and it worked...
The trio named LWP has a tenor sax, drums and a keyboard and has written some very sophisticated music also available on a mini CD.
We're About Nine returns - this set rocks
If You See William
Mr High Energy - a wonderful male dancer gets up and dances in front the band - Katie joins him and the energy is indeed high..
Spirit - not a Casper the friendly ghost song, this is about one who is not seen for who he is
For One More - from the perspective of a girl who gets an unwelcomed wedding proposal
Weight of the Ocean
Thanks Rebecca for persuading your class to sponsor this event and open it to the community. I heard people saying at the break and afterwards, I don't like folk music, but I like this... We're About Nine, you are the new face of "folk" or what ever it is. I prefer to call it singer-songwriter, but we really need a catcher name for the kinds of creative lyrics and energy and talent you guys bring. Park School rocks, We're About Nine Rocks!
p.s. See this Baltimore Sun article on Joanne Juskus's show at the Patterson Theatore on Sat Novermber 15 at 8 pm - http://www.sunspot.net/news/local/howard/bal-ho.klosner14oct14,1,2543521.story. The Nov 15 "Songwriters' Invasion" show features Brian Gundersdorf and Eliot Bronson, as well as 2 female songwriters.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
Wellstone World Music Day on 10-25-03 and Pierce Pettis on 10-3-03 at The Falls Church in Fall Church Virginia
Per this web site - http://www.wellstoneworldmusicday.com/ - the upcoming anniversary of Senator Paul Wellstone's tragic death, is to be celebrated with a number of concerts dedicated to his memory. If you are part of a musical event on 10-25-03, considering dedicating it the memory of Paul Wellstone by registering your event at this site - or a least mentioning him in memory at your event. The sites lists these area events already registered - and the web pages of the Grandsons and the Arlington VA Museum of Modern Art also cite the the commitment of these concerts to Paul Wellstone's memory.
Harrisburg, PA - JOHN MCCUTCHEON plays the Harrisburg Area Community College (717)763-5744
Silver Spring, MD - THE GRANDSONS at Half Moon Barbeque, 8235 Georgia Ave. 9 P.M., 301-585-1290. Grandsons bass player John Young was a student of Professor Wellstone at Carleton College during the 1980's
Arlington, Virginia - Musicians and poets gather at The Museum Of Modern Art, 1116 N. Hudson St., 8 p.m.-midnight.
Reflections on the Pierce Pettis Concert on 10-3-03 at The Falls Church in Fall Church Virginia I love hearing Pierce Pettis anywhere. This venue is a historic church - there was a wooden church on this site in 1732 and this building dates from 1769. Sitting in the pews, I remember the churches in Williamsburg Va.
We arrive before the doors open for the concert and so we mill about in a bookstore area for a C. S. Lewis conference taking place in the new church area. The couple in the bookstore are from Pennsylvania. He tells me he has a photograph he has in his office of Pierce Pettis and Brooks Williams from a concert where they were singing a Mark Heard song soon after Mark Heard died. The couple are huge Pierce Pettis fans, and did not know Pierce would be here tonight. They regret mightily their commitment to sell books. I hope they are able to take turn sneaking out to see part of the music.
Pierce's Songs include:
Neutral Ground - co-written with Fred Koller - a song about New Orleans and saints, sinners
Georgia Moon - Pierce wanted to write a song inspired by the area the Southern writer Flannery O'Connor was from - but this turns out to be in a different locale.
You Move Me - this is a one song medley of Greatest Pierce Pettis hits. This is a hit because Garth Brooks had a hit covering it.
Crying Ground - co-written with Tom Kimmel this is one of the loviest sad song I had heard.
A Mountaineer is Always Free - sings of the pride of the Scots-Americans in Appalachia. When Pierce was touring Scotland recently, this song got radio play in Scotland
Just Like Jim Brown (She Is History) - She Walked Away Just Like Jim Brown - a guy friendly love song with references to stuff guys like - football players and auto parts
You Did That for Me
Granddaddy Blew the Whistle - Pierce's uncle was a retired VP of Southern RR and his granddady Leon was a railroad engineer -in this instrumental how does Pierce get the guitar to sound so like a whistle?
Alabama 1959 - written after looking at home movies in Pierce's parent's attic.
At the break, someone comes up to talk about how moved they are by references to segregation in Alabama 1959. Pierce talks about a hero of his, Will Davis Campbell, who was one of the few whites in the Southern Christian Leadership conference and who tried to keep a dialogue open with whites - saying we have to know what is right and still keep talking to people we love (families and neighbors) who do not agree with our values (supporting integration). You don't agree with them, but you love them. That is tough love.
Songs after the break include:
Anybody's Girl - about grace from the point of view of an "untrustworthy" narrator -
The Black Sleep Boy - about loving the child who takes another path
You are mine - I will sing to you my song of songs
Outlaw - "I have been an outlaw all my former life" - I love this song. Yes other people may describe me as breaking their rules, but what are my values?
The Sad Smile of the Mona Lisa
State of Grace (he sang my request - yes!)
God Believes in You
We Will Meet Again
These are my reflections after the concert:
The group sponsoring the concert tonight is the young adult community here called Kairos, who are doing this as a benefit to raise money for some missions with AIDS victims in Africa. This church is so idealist and so conservative (which is not my perspective). This church's web site now talks about the coming potential Episcopalian split over a homosexual bishop, whose election I celebrated (though I am not Episcopalian). Civil rights issues did split American churches. How to keep dialog open around issues around the validity of a homosexual sexual preference. This is a huge "values" issue. Where are the Will Davis Campbell's on this issue?
P.S. - Lots of Pierce Pettis fans are fans, as Pierce is, of the music of Mark Heard. If you don't have Mark Heard collection - you can get one instantly for $10 - Paste Records has a special on - 6 Mark Heard Cassettes for $10 - see http://www.pastemusic.com/product/603