Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Alright Anne, You Asked For It!

I’ve been a casual Dave Matthews Band since the beginning. Maybe not the very beginning, but definitely since What Would You Say.
My friend, Anne, on the other hand, is a die-hard DMBer. Dave Matthews Band is to Anne, as Indigo Girls is to Colin. Though, Anne is also a die-hard IG fan.

This summer, Anne went to about 1,000 DMB concerts. This year, with each ticket purchase, concert-goers also received a copy of the new CD, Come Tomorrow in the mail. I don’t understand how the album makes any money this way, though I’m hopeful there was a method to the madness. If it was simply to get the music into more hands, it worked! Anne sent me a copy and it’s been great background music the past month.
Last night, I had a dream I was listening to the album, learning the track names, and lyrics. I love when I have music dreams, but I knew that this was because Anne was still waiting to hear my first impressions and I hadn’t made the time to sit with Come Tomorrow yet.

Until today! So here we go, Anne! You asked for it!

I’m already impressed with the first track, Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin). It doesn’t necessarily pack the punch within it’s straightforwardness, and though it seems to be about the birth of a child, it sounds like it could be some sort of mythological story.

“The day you came,
Naked afraid….

Oh joy begin,
Weak little thing….

Let’s not forget these early days
Remember we begin the same
We lose our way in fear and pain….

Innocent kiss
Black magic bliss
First broken bone
Sudden and swift
Oh innocence…”

I would love to hear Tori Amos cover this. Maybe even with a snippet of her own song, Samurai as an intro. It’s an old b-side / improv that has come to life just a few times on stage in various incarnations.

“And I’m free
You know me
I’m gonna be
Gonna be

The dial tone after track one is a great sound effect to enter the rest of the album with.
She has answered.

Can’t Stop packs the punch I was talking about with that groovy snap and soaring vocals! Sounds like it actually could have been on the Everyday album. It burns with yearning. I love the pounding brass, and the extended outro.

“I have tripped and I have fallen into
this somehow beautiful but not beautiful
I mean, I found myself in a beautiful place but
I know that I will lose my soul
So hungry you make me…”

Here On Out is gorgeous with the strings layered behind the pushing picking of the lead guitar. Another love song.

“When you laugh its like
a light that fills me up
‘Cause you are my love….

When I’m all used up
Old and breaking apart
Like a storm out
the stars in my blood
All because of you
You are my love…”

That Girl Is You has got those summer vibes! Whoever this girl is that Dave is singing about must feel real admired, that’s for sure!

So far, I feel like this is the story of a boy falling in love. It starts in the future with the birth of a child, and it’s the dial tone that brings you back in time, when “out of the corner of my eye, I caught you walking by, I chase you down…” in Here On Out. Then, the introductions happen in The Girl Is You: “What’s your name, how do you do?… I saw a girl, the way she moved, it changed the way I see the world…”

Speaking of, that girl, we find out in She, that she maybe even be a witch! Or at least she’s got some love potion.

“She hypnotizes me with her groove
She collect the stars she super moon….

She is burned in the middle of my soul
If you wait too long, the juju is gone….

She makes me feel like I’m fall under
She a spell I cannot brad no wonder…”
Idea Of You begins with the sound of a wild live audience, and I feel like we are in the future again. The song quickly regains focus as the crowd fades out. The narrator is transported back to when he was young, before he introduced himself to her. He remembers how excited the idea of her made him. The fantasy the childlike anticipation creates, like Christmas morning, when your mind’s eye fills in the blanks to create the ultimate idea of something, or someone. I’m sure the time it took for her to recognize him was agonizing, as he was infatuated with the mystery of falling in love.

I don’t know if the he and her in this story ever came to be, though. Or maybe they did and she’s now gone gone gone, leaving him with just the idea of her, like he began so simply with all those years ago.

Virginia In The Rain

“Don’t want to say goodbye to you
The summer always ends too soon….

And I will capture your flag
Take a rocket ship to the moon and back
We’ll build castes in the riverbank
Don’t ever grow up too fast
we’ll turn up the music and dance….

Let’s make believe this is gonna last
Forever doesn’t seem long enough….

I will hold you up over my head,
spread your wings and fly through the air…”

A dreamscape of humid rain with promises in the air. Adventurous, young lovers explore acres of natures. The verses hypnotic, but the chorus reflects the familiar DMB melodies we’ve grown accustom to.

Right off the bat, the riff to Again and Again mirrors its title with the pulsing band’s volley. The rain has stopped, the sky has cleared, and summer steam is lifting as this ode to Mother Nature ruptures up through the quaking Earth.

“Mama save me save me
Mama bless me to my bones….

and the love you give to me
Mama I’m gonna
give it back to you...”

With a love poem to her in the middle:

“All the stars
In the sky
So beautiful
In your eyes
Reachin’ out for you
Just to kiss your mouth….

Sweet poison sting lets me see
I’ll be your king
Cause you are my queen…”

After Again and Again, there is a funky short interlude, bkdkdkdd. I must admit, I don’t understand the title, but it definitely feels like an end cap to the first half of Come Tomorrow. The steam may have cleared, but there’s still humidity in nude Virginia, sparkling after the storm.

Curtain close.

Black and Blue Bird. Inspired by the Beatles? We are now back where we began. Present day for the narrator.

“I got a job and it pays me
I want love more than I deserve
I read the paper it makes me crazy
Gotta be a way to make it work…”

As a certain amount of the excitement of new life is lost in the mundane staleness of pattern, the burden of reincarnation starts to weigh him down.

I know that dyin’ is scary to us
But everybody do it
One, two, three
On a sidewalk
A dandelion is reaching
From a crack up to the sun…”

Black and Blue Bird is full of wanting and dreaming and astrology references. Remembering the a life with someone, the trip to the moon and back and how he’d do it all again if it meant just one more day before starting over again.

Come On Come On begins with the sexy drums and the Shania-like strings. I could drive to this song.

In another dream, a level of realization has been reached as he is shot by Cupid’s arrow. He is asking her to follow him back.

“There is a time for holding onto
And there is a time for letting go.”

Turn, turn, turn.
The heart of Come On Come On fades and rebirth blooms in Do You Remember. Upon waking up, more memories have been unlocked. You can almost hear the memories sprouting in the sparse backing vocals. The effervescence of the previous dream has lingered into the waking life, spotlighting heroic confidence in the summer of love. It’s always a summer of love. Like the renewed source of sunlight, again and again, day after day. The future can only get brighter.

Come Tomorrow (the song) is the actionable follow-up to Funny The Way It Is off of Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. It’s a bright, clear new day. He’s humble and he’s found a way to ‘pay it forward.’ Sounds like celebration. 

Through his loneliness, if he remembers how good compassion feels, he will continue to find a way to spread kindness. We’re all on the ride together.

Curtain close. Encore.

When I’m Weary is the moral of the story in the form of a lullaby sung off the starboard side of the ship. The best piece of advice to end on:

“When you’re weary
When you’re tired
Please remember
To keep on going”

Curtain close.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Three Streets Off The Grid

June 23, 2018

“I wish I was a Nomad, an Indian, or a Saint. Give me walking shoes, feathered arms, and a key to heaven’s gate…”

            One show is never enough. Two is just a tease. But five is a vacation, and I’m so
grateful the Pacific North West leg of this tour was so robust. After a couple seated shows, I was psyched for the outdoor venues.

            After coffee with friends in Federal Way, WA, and a stop at the gas station to fill it up again, I grabbed a quick snack, and I was on my way back home to Portland, Oregon… once I made it through the Tacoma Traffic.

            I love the trees in Oregon. The Douglas Fir is my favorite. They are monstrous, and part of my allure to Oregon. When their green tops, high in the sky, are laced with the Pacific mist and fog, they resemble creepy alien movies. Did you know, Pine Needle Tea contains a shit ton of Vitamin C? Also high in Vitamin A too, Fir needles are the same, though they actually taste more like citrus and less like turpentine. When I worked at Sly Park Environmental Science Camp during AmeriCorps NCCC, we use to pluck them from the branches with the kids and chomp ‘em up on our hikes.
            Though I have mixed feelings about zoos and zoo concerts, I’ve been to a handful of shows at the Oregon Zoo, in Portland, over the years. Normally, I arrive well after the doors open to miss waiting in the long lines in the hot, setting sun. This year, I was on time, and had to wait in line before beginning my strool through the zoo grounds to the amphitheater.

            Since I’ve moved here, the Oregon Zoo has undergone several renovations to enhance many exhibits, as well as the amphitheater, which provide better views of the stage. The shows are General Admission and folks pack the large sloped lawn with blankets and low chairs. To the right of the stage are the reserved patios and cafe. To the left is the renovated elephant habitat. Though, the best spot in the venue is in the stage pit located right down at the stage. The pit must hold no more than 400 comfortably, but the venue itself holds about 2,700. This space allows for a party without standing in the view of anyone on the lawn.

            It’s at this time that I must share with you the story of The Flap. Let it be known, that I am not afraid of birds, rather, I appreciate and respect the space between them and I. My friend, Amy S, has not been so lucky.

            On May 13, 2016, the Indigo Girls played a show at Portland’s First Congregational Church. It was a benefit for reconciling ministries network. It was inspiring to hear songs like It’s Alright, Go, Our Deliverance, Rise of the Black Messiah, and Let It Ring in a church, though we were on the second floor and it was sweltering. Before this benefit show, Emily and her father, Don Saliers, did an intimate performance during the United Methodist Church General Conference at the Convention Center. We had appetizers and made conversation with the conference attendees upon arrival.
            Then, the evening’s events started with a ceremony performed by an Indigenous group from Central and South America. Amy S, in her sundress, sat second row on the isle. We hear the flapping of a chicken coming up the aisle from behind. Held by its feet, the chickenman tousled the bird around as if he was wafting burning sage through the air with it.
            At the time, I was so sick. A severe sinus infection, undiagnosed at the time, which would then cause conjunctivitis the following day. I had suffered through the work day excited about the shows, but was heavily self medicated on medicine cabinet leftovers. In slow motion, I watched the wavering chicken approach Please don’t snap her neck. As she passed, her feathered wing gently caressed down Amy’s bare arm with such force I felt the breeze that carried through Amy’s windblown hair. In slo-mo awe, grateful I didn’t take that aisle seat, please don’t snap her neck was still my main concern.
            Drums, chanting, prayers, introductions, photos, and a safe chicken, the night proceeded. Emily and her Dad, Don referenced the book they wrote together, A Song To Sing, A Life To Live. They shared stories, sang church songs, and surprised us with All That We Let In with Don singing Amy Ray’s parts. They even did a snippet of Hammer and Nail to demonstrate its likeness to an old gospel.

            Now, 3 years later, here we are, at the Oregon Zoo, and the zookeepers begin the Birds of Prey Pre-Show. The hawks are suppose to fly from one post to another, around the lawn, and grab food in the air on the way back to their box on the stage. Fuck that. Any situation that begins with “everyone, stop where you are and get down,” I’m out of. I shook my little tail feather side stage, covered my beer with my hand, and hid behind the volunteer security. Who was a lady about 70 years young, mind you. Luckily, I had made it out of the pit just in time to turn back around and watch Amy S’s blue hair get fluttered in the wind by the low flyer’s swift buster of flight.

            What are the chances of getting flapped at an Indigo Girls show twice?! I laughed! I laughed so hard.

            By now, our area was filling up and our friends began to arrive. Jiblet from LA, Angela and Grant from Canada, many re-peat concert acquaintances, and even local Portland musicians, Kaia Wilson and Lindsay Fuller. Then, out of my peripheral vision, I see a flash of short platinum blonde hair and a large cardboard sign on which one side read, “see you at the next show,” and the other read, “Get Out The Map” with a list of 5 cities along side empty check boxes. I had met my concert sprit animal, and of course, her fucking name was Amy. So we call her Munkers, and though we each weren’t attending the same 5 shows, I knew we were gonna have fun at the gigs that overlapped.
            Lucy Wainwright Roche’s set started and there were several beer runs and merch visits. Though I do love when Lyris accompanies Lucy. Lyris brings so much more life to her music. After many stages of hair, Lyris is finally rocking the mo-hawk and I love it. Amy Ray was wearing her Fern Gully Chic pants again, with the new button-up with red trim and arrows. The style of the new shirt still reminds me of the St Pepper’s jacket she wore in the Joking music video from 1992. Emily had on a clean pair of jeans with various tears and a cool left pocket. She had on a black tshirt I hadn’t seen before with what looked to be a green or yellow abstract bird along the neckline. Over the tshirt, she had on a red and black plaid short sleeve, opened button-up.

1. It’s Alright – Opening with this song is always so poignant. The addition of Lyris on violin really helps glide you right into the night. My coworker Kathy popped out right as the song started and we confirmed we’d meet right in the same spot for Melissa Etheridge in July!

We cheered big for It’s my thirst that brought me to the water – give it all up and she carries me on – it’s alright!

2. Devotion – Devotion also always just feels right in the beginning of the set. Emily invited Lucy back out to the stage, “We’ve known Lucy a looong time!” The backdrop of Doug Firs was so cool and Emily’s hair was glowing in the sunlight. I was so glad to be standing on her side. Also, from this angle, the mic stand doesn’t block Amy Ray’s face!

Angela and I harmonized, The book of days, the way things lay, its just space and time, we gave it up, all for love, that wont be defined… then we cheered loudly at the end of the song and Emily smiled at us. “YAS! So good! So good!” we loudly echoed. I was starting to feel my beers and slip into my happy place! 

3. Pendulum Swinger – Emily bantered, “We saw an owl backstage, and a porcupine.” Amy reminder her, “We fed the giraffes!”
“That’s right, and some elephants were hanging out during sound check,” Emily remembered.
Amy waves to the elephants since you can see them from the stage and she says, “It’s a mixed feeling. Complex” We cheered.
The strumming of Pendulum Swinger started and Emily said, “Let’s everybody vote in the midterm elections!” More cheers, then she shouted, “I’m gonna!”

We were so excited to hear this song since it had been a while and it’s forever appropriate. I’d say we brought back the Pendulum Dance, but did it really go anywhere? I mean, come on, I’m sure you know how to whip it, hip it, sling it, and swig it, baby! Some choose to be discrete with their pendulums, but it’s 2018 and like I said, I was starting to feel my beers. Amy S’s smiling eyes and mischievous smirk brought me such joy. I was laughing so hard, but Angela wasn’t playing along. She don’t like to whip it in public. But Emily laughed at us from the stage and Munkers caught on pretty quick.

…if we’re a drop in the bucket, with just enough science to keep from saying FUCK IT…

4. Gone Again – I had been waiting for this, as it’s normally a show staple when Lucy is on Tour. It’s actually one of the very few songs Lucy plays guitar on when she’s on stage with the ‘Girls. Since Gone Again and Salty South have a similar chord structure, Angela and I tried to sing the Salty South lyrics while the girls played Gone Again. Two things. 1. It’s easier to sing Gone Again to Salty South cause I know those lyrics better. 2. I have to apologize to Jiblet for my singing, cackling, side comments, gasping, guzzling, and who knows what else! Re-watching my videos, I realize I was LOUD. Thank goodness she likes me, or else this would have been the about the time I got an elbow to the face.

Honey all this is to say, every dog don’t got it’s day…

Emily’s banjo solo was off the hook, and looking back at my videos, I see little floating blue lights for the past 2 songs. That’s usually my Meme when she shows up in photos. I’m not surprised she’s dancing at the Portland show with me; She loved that beat!

5. Hope Alone – This seems to be the new sing-with-Lucy-at-every-show staple this tour. Hope Alone was performed in heavy rotation in the late 2000’s with Brandi Carlile, and it’s always most welcome to come back. By now, it’s taking on anew and setting its gorgeous roots in this tour. Amy plays the 12-string on this song, and Lucy’s voice supplements. The cool air felt great as the heat was starting to break.
6. Three Hits – First time this week! During this song especially, I love the force Lyris adds and I love when you can hear Amy stomp on the stage. We sang loud and at the end of the song, Amy Ray smiled, gave thanks and kinda gave herself a little hug in appreciation of our cheers!

Well the first two might release you, but the last one sings in me son…

7. Get Out The Map – This is the other song Lucy plays guitar on. I took this chance do a beer run and stop to chat at the merch table. The sky was losing its baby blue and the treetops were dark and golden with the sun set.
8. Shame On You – I hustled back down the pavement, elbowed my way through the tight crowd, tried not to spill the beers, and was back in my front row spot for…

My friend Tanner, she said she knows me and Jesus, we’ve got the same heart. The only thing that keeps us different is that I keep FUCKING UP!

9. Fill It Up Again – It felt like the show had just started and I wanted it to last all night. We were energized and having too much fun!

10. Spread The Pain Around – This has been another show staple for the past 4 years. Lucy sings, Lyris plays the bouzouki, and Angela and I totally agreed that we’ll never get use to not seeing Sully as Indigo’s Guitar Tech.

Someone yelled out Power of Two. Eye roll.

11. Elizabeth –There was a 24-year-old woman in the audience with a sign that stated she’d been listing since she was 3! Emily called her out and talked about it on stage, “That’s awesome. Thank you!”
Amy chirped, “Dark child.” Haha! Yeah, we are! We all laughed and Emily gave her Elizabeth intro,
“This is a song that I drudged up from some memories from college. I might as well been 3 years old. Sometimes you think back on special things that happened in the past with other people and they get real big… in your head. But this took place in New Orleans at a bar called Lolly’s on Toulouse St, and there was a band called Lil Queenie, and a song called My Darlin’ New Orleans, and a lot of whiskey.”
12. Chickenroot –Just as good, if not better than the show before in Tacoma. The sun was setting. Red lights came on for a dramatic flair. These seemed to be bumped out of place as it normally comes towards the end of the set. This show felt like traveling through time and space. No rant, just Bitterroot River wedged in the middle, though Angela and I agreed that the political climate is such that a political rant, ala mid-90’s, would be appropriate. Emily’s solo was off the hook! Amy’s hair was in her face. I lost my shit. The zoo lost it’s shit. The elephants, I’m sure, lost their shit.

Yes, I’ve been travelin’ too…

13. Let It Be Me – This is another political song that has comes in waves, usually around election times, or when the ‘Girls are frustrated with current events.
14. Sugar Tongue – This was Amy’s redemption song after her fuck-up in Kirkland! Nailed it! I’m obsessed with this acoustic version with just Amy on electric, and Emily on 6-string. To me, it has a totally different vibe than it did 10 years ago. They must have had time to run through it in Soundcheck.

15. Woodsong – So much fun! Lyris’ intro felt country! Another staple that we took the chance to scream-serenade. I think we may have even been louder than Emily.

Yeeeeaaaaah but what it takes to cross the great divide, seems more than all the courage I can muster up inside…

16. Dairy Queen – Back in full force, with harmonica and all. This was a fun addition to this tour. It brought me back to all my old bootlegs when it was rumored to be on what was to become ATWLI.

17. Hammond Song – The energy in the pit was amazing, time was flying by, and I thought we were only half way through the set! Sometimes on this song, they have the vocals cranked up like this…
18. Go – The stage glowed purple, my power color, and being outdoors sparked something in Go. It was starting to obtain the energy it would use at the next two shows.
19. Galileo – His head was on the block.


20. Share The Moon – Still not Point Hope, but I realized Moon was becoming the Encore staple.

I could go one day without Colin…

21. Closer To Fine

We basked in the afterglow of the show while the stage was torn down and packed up. We chatted, and waited for the crowd to thin out before making our way back to the car. I dropped Angela and Grant off at their hotel downtown; I parked the car at my apartment, fed the cat and met up with them again for a nightcap.