I’ve lived on an island full of seagulls, worked in gardens with mourning doves and blue jays. I’ve spent lot of time in pigeon-filled cities, but never in my life before Miss Fairchild had a bird pooped on me. Now it’s happened three times.
The first time, I was in a car, waiting for the band at Chicky’s in Westbrook, ME. Somehow, the bird crap found it’s way through a cracked car window, past my hand and the cellphone in it, avoided the seat belt I was wearing and landed on the only portion of my shirt that was exposed to air. I had to hang up the phone and the shirt was, for all intents and purposes, ruined, but this event is considered good luck, and I don’t say “no” to good luck.
The second time, I was in Somerville, MA, putting up posters for Miss Fairchild Presents The Miss Fairchild Show when I was hit square on my bare foot, in between my toes, while I was wearing sandals. This time was slightly more bothersome, as my options for cleaning my foot were limited, but I made do and, as I recall, that particular Miss Fairchild Show was pretty happening.
Well, last night in Chicago, I was targeted again. Changing into my gig clothes outside the venue, under an EL train line, I could a glimpse of something white out of the corner of my eye and felt something warm and wet on my left hand and shirt cuff. Sure enough, these Windy City pigeons were Dunlap hunting and I had been hit. Fair and square, child. This time, there was a large supply of wet naps (thanks Jim!) at the ready, and assuming my shirt lives on, I couldn’t be happier about the whole thing. You see, “who’s to say what’s good or bad?” aside, bird poop means good luck. If you think what I’m about to describe is a positive experience, though…
You would be absolutely right.
Skipping back a few hours, Miss Fairchild ran some errands today, getting our act together for a few last tour dates and settling some scores (not really, but it sounded good, right?) We stopped into a used instrument store that, interestingly, had for sale the exact mixer and compression unit for sale that had been stolen out of Sam Nice’s Camry two years ago when were here. I’m afraid for him to see it in the store in case he breaks down and pleads with the owner to give it back. Sometimes what’s lost is lost and he’s moved far behind those two items, as useful as they were. Oddly, the store was not featuring the rotating colored light that was also stolen from that car, the one with the semi-inappropriate shapes of a reclining, leggy woman in purple, green, yellow, orange and blue. I couldn’t say why not.
Eventually, we headed over to Empire Liquors to scope the scenario there. This bar is really hip and new, with a great staff and solid layout. It’s not set-up for regular live music, and I wouldn’t blame Ryan, the manager there, if he was skeptical about these strange dudes from Massachusetts bringing in a Mayflower’s load of instruments and colored signs. Samuel troubleshot the room with our friend Willy Joy as making a room sound good is one of his many varied talents. We had to import our own sound system and find a way to “stage” this thing we call a Show.
After the sound check, we ran off to have noodles and falafel. (Not both; we split. What do you think we are, anyway? Vacuum cleaners?) Daddy Wrall and I headed off to have an espresso and a walk, while the others made their way to the venue, where one of the bartenders was a Bostonian happy to see us in her new hometown. The whole staff was fantastic, in fact. Stand-up people. When people talk about mid-westerners being so [much] nice[r than east coasters], this is what they mean.
Eventually Daddy Wrall and I arrived at the back entrance of Empire Liquors, where we had parked Bessie. We headed toward the entrance, but we were surprised to find a couple of guys next to the door, near the van. One of the guys left real quick and I didn’t get a good look; the other guy was a long-haired, soul-patched, flannel shirt and corduroy pants-wearing dude in about his late thirties. He saw us and came quickly over.
“Wow, man! I wish I could do that!” he said, pointing at Daddy Wrall. (I should mention that Wrall and I were accidentally wearing the same exact color shirts
“What’s that?” Wrall asked, confused.
The anonymous man, stroked his soul patch (or jazz beard, if you’re Don DiLego) and pointed at Daddy Wrall’s Levon Helm-esque beard. “I’m just one of those guys that can’t grow a beard! I wish I could.” He looked at me, said, “You too, man!” and pulled us both in tight, knocking all three of our heads together. Despite this unrequested and unexpected show of affection, he didn’t seem threatening. Rather, just a nice dude in a dark alley under an EL.
“I also like the baby blue shirts, man! Very ‘Miami Vice’!”
“Yeah. Don Johnson!” Daddy Wrall played along. We were both interested to see where this would go. I had been holding my wallet and decided to put it in my back pocket.
“Oh, hey there! Didn’t realize you were a badge.” he said. It took a second to establish what he was saying, but we got the point.
“Oh, I’m not a cop.” I was trying to figure out how a guy wearing vintage Pony running shoes, torn up blue jeans and a powder blue tank top, with long hair and a beard, could be considered a cop, but considering I didn’t know this guy, his paranoia was fine with me.
“Hey, it’s cool, man. You can keep your badge out! Thanks for keeping the streets safe.” We discussed it some more, and he finally believed me, that I wasn’t a cop. “I was just giving that homeless guy some cash for a sandwich,” he said. “I mean, if I can afford 285 grand for ten days of security in Prague [funny how that city keeps coming up!], then I can help make sure a guy gets to eat.” I mean, my record sold 20 million copies, I’ve got houses in Beverly Hills and Manhattan. I can help a guy get a sandwich. Do you know who I am?”
“Do you know stang?”
“Staind?” asked Daddy Wrall. Then, singing, “You mean, ‘It’s Been a While’?”
“Yeah!” he said, “well, I’m Mike!”
And it turned out this was Mike Mushok, guitarist for Staind. He was just chillin’ in an alley, talking to us about how sad this neighborhood had become, how it used to be more real, how he wanted to fly us to Corpus Christi, Texas with him and have us back to the penthouse apartment for a late night party. He told us about being sponsored by Ibanez and donating guitars to school programs. He showed us that he was wearing two pairs of socks and that people didn’t recognize him because of the way he was dressed. We talked for a while, actually. He decided to come into the bar with us, ostensibly to see us perform.
In there, he met Trick and The Rocket, the latter of whom actually knew who he was. When Trick was standing outside the venue, Mike stepped out to have a cigarette. He turned to the doorman, “Hey, man. Take care of these guys, okay?” he said, referring to Miss Fairchild. The doorman eyed him skeptically. Mike whispered in Trick’s ear, “Hey tell this guy who I am. You know who I am, right?”
“Uh, yeah… you’re, uh, Mike. I actually don’t know your last name.”
“Oh. It’s Mshanogtke.”
“Uh… okay. Hey [to the doorman now], this is Mike Mschandrktogteh. He’s the guitarist for Staind.” The doorman seemed impressed. Mike returned to talk with Daddy Wrall and The Rocket. They talked about some “Rock and Roll stuff,” until Mike suddenly imparted his words of wisdom:
“You know what the important thing is, man? Stay true to yourself. Be in your heart and your head and stay true to yourself.” He left to “go get the rest of [his] band” never to return, which wasn’t surprising. He got a few beers and a copy of Ooh La La, Sha Sha… out of the interaction and we got a fun story. He’s just a guy, and Staind has little relevance to this thing called Miss Fairchild, but it was a fun time nonetheless. What’s that? You don’t remember Staind?
We returned to the scene of our meeting with Mike and my meeting with bird poop to sing a little before the show. While we sang, our friend Doug, from Akasha walked past. He didn’t know about the show, but now he would be able to stop in!
Continuing our song, the radiant Jackie Wilson showed up, Amazon-like. No, not that Jackie Wilson! This one’s a woman, and she enjoying seeing us have fun warming up for our show so much that she would just have to come see it. We were singing “The Love You Save,” which we brought out special tonight, even though we rarely play it. The stars were aligning. People were attracted to these odd, vested gentlemen, getting down for the funk of it in a pigeon spotted alleyway in Chicago.
Which brings us to the show! And what a show it was. In the spirit of funking extra hard when the stage and sound are less than ideal, we mustered up and gave the good people of Chicago no choice but to win a Miss Fairchild Audience Participation Award. You sang, you danced and you clapped, Chicago. And you deserve the medal. We’ve played in your city a half-dozen times, and you never disappoint us. May we see you again often and may you show your fellow citizens of world what it is to get down and have fun. You are School of Too Cool Dropouts and that’s cool with me. Y’all are warm. Y’all are scalding hot. And that’s some fun to Miss Fairchild! (Many thanks to Willie and Dylan, Ryan, Matt, Simon, Laura and Jedand many others that deserve many thanks. We love you all. And Happy Birthday Bryan. Your music is great.)
Staind is a thing.
Audience participation is a thing.
Motown music is a thing.
Bird poop is a lucky thing.