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Sammy Bananas has an “Anna Stesia” meets Garth Hudson moment on Miss Fairchild’s forthcoming release: Thesis. Antithesis. Parenthesis. (Working Title).*
Daddy Wrall films from the closet.
*Please don’t take this as representative of the state of our music. When you have a genius like Mr. Bananas in the fold, you have to let him breath a little, before reigning in his brilliance. The final record will reflect this editing process…
We got some blog love yesterday for our show in Portland, ME last Saturday from our friend over at L’Esprit d’Escalier. I know she’s a hard sell on this whole music thing, so it’s good to see that we succeeded in impressing her. I have to warn you that the post isn’t all about us, and though she she seems to be doing really well, contains a personal story that might bum you out a bit. The author writes really well about the whole thing, and the comment calling it “black comedy” is dead on it.* Have a read, because she writes good.
*As in, “the only good rapper is one that’s dead. On it.” (As if Prince would know…)
And she takes a good photo. Here is the one from her blog (clickable):
Last night, Daddy Wrall and I traveled to Maine for a rehearsal with Todd and Trick. We don’t get to play together nearly often enough, so it’s always a treat. We’re usually squeezing a bit of music in between studio work, promotion, day jobs and travel and last night was no exception. We arrived around 2 o’clock, played for a few hours, and split early, with a mind toward catching our new friends Sevi D & The Wilds at T.T. the Bear’s Place. They weren’t playing until after ten, so even though we were traveling in three states, we should have had plenty of time for all of this.
Of course, that timing doesn’t take into account my own mental inadequacies.
Okay, before I get into all that, rewind to earlier in the day, before I picked up Wrall at the airport. I was dropping off my brother Seth* and remembered that I had lent him some money.
*You know him from such testimonials as “Airport Water Tax” and “The Loss of Childhood Innocence”.
“Seth, do you have that twenty bucks you owe me?”
“No, but I can get it at the ATM.”
“I don’t have time. Can you give it to me on Friday?”
“Yeah. Here: take ten now.”
I tried not to take the sawbuck, but he insisted and I relented. I’ve intended to carry cash lately, but haven’t always succeeded on that front. I’m pretty reliant on plastic on a moment to moment basis. That might be the result of working at a grocery store and seeing how much easier it is to use a card, even for orders of less than a dollar. As you may have guessed, that ten dollar bill was the only cash I was carrying from that point forward.
Now let’s fast forward to after rehearsal. Wrall and I were on our way to Boston to catch Sevi D, making decent time, though not as good as the trip to Maine. Suddenly, the engine stopped doing its thing and we began to slow down. I hit the gas, but it was clear to me what had happened:
I had forgotten to fill the gas tank.
Yep, the simplest possible thing. I knew before we left that we wouldn’t have enough gas for the trip. I was rushing to my brother to his destination, and pick up Wrall at the airport, and be at rehearsal on time, and I just plum forgot. I’d never done that before. Maybe I have a good temporal memory, or maybe a good parietal one. I can tell you my best friend’s phone number from kindergarten and the SKU for lemongrass. I remember where I was standing when I had the idea for “Kept Woman” five years ago. I remember one of my first meetings with Wrall, when I was in 6th grade. I did, however, forget to fill up the gas in the van yesterday, and we ran out of gas.
We were traveling pretty fast, and the road was pretty flat, so I figured I’d coast a ways before I pulled over. You never know, I might make it all the way to a gas station. We were approaching a toll plaza, so I coasted through the toll. There was an exit up a ways, and it had a sign for gas, but I knew I couldn’t make it. Instead, I pulled over just past the tolls…
I called AAA and they said it wouldn’t long before someone would bring us some gas. In the meantime, I made the above film and Wrall gave me a birthday present. Keeping with the musical theme of late, it was The Muddy Waters Woodstock Record, which contains memorable performances by Levon Helm and Garth Hudson of The Band. I can’t wait to listen to it.
Eventually, the man came. He only took cash, and thank goodness I had some–I wouldn’t have if Seth hadn’t forced that tenspot on me earlier. Thanks, Seth.
The Van started. I filled the tank at a nearby station and we got back on the road to Boston. We went to T.T.’s, but Sevi D and the Wilds had already performed. The headlining band was called Sex and they were already on stage.
We decided not to stick around, because in Miss Fairchild we have a strict policy never to pay for Sex.
Would be uncivilized…
For those of you looking for a standalone player for the podcast, here it is:http://www.missfairchild.com/mp3/straightbonkersepisode1.mp3″
Also, right click on this link and click “download linked file” (Ctrl-click on an apple).
I’ve written before that Superbowl Sunday is often a very consequential day for Miss Fairchild. We don’t always know why and that may be the case today. What we do know is that we have some special for you folks:
Our first podcast.
Yes, we’re joining the ranks of on-demand radio, by producing a podcast to accompany this here blog. For those of you who don’t have time to read, but would love to listen to us on your commute, or at work, or wherever, Daddy Wrall and myself have recorded episode one of Straight Bonkers: The Miss Fairchild Podcast.*
*Apologies to Certified Bananas.
We have plans to include episodes with some of our favorite people, including, but not limited to, Don DiLego and our favorite Larry Graham impersonator.* Episode one features DW and myself discussing time travel and some of our favorite music. We’re pretty excited about this thing, and we hope you like it.
Enjoy it and let us know what you think!
Well, we had a very successful couple of days in Sam’s Brooklyn lair. Let’s recap some of what we accomplished:
1. We fixed the refrigerator.
2. We discovered the pomegranate phone.
3. We explored the In and Outs of Steak and Shake.
4. We put Robert Palmer in another compromising situation.
5. We listened to my rant about Nilsson Schmilsson.
And that’s just what we blogged about. Here are some other tidbits:
Sammy got some new studio foam in the mail, so his vocal booth is now in full effect. I don’t have a photo, but if you can imagine stuffing three queen-sized egg crate mattress pads into one of those little “peanuts” jars that that shoots out a spring painted to look like a snake, and then opening the jar in a small windowless closet in a Brooklyn apartment, then you have an idea of what it looks like. Very post-modern.
In all seriousness, though, we are excited for an opportunity to do some group vocals in there, and maybe some horn recordings. His new studio is coming along, and despite my bragging about the legend he has watching over him, he has yet to move the photograph into the new room. I fear for our music until he has done that.
Last night, Wrall and I indulged in one of our favorite things: watching James Brown concert footage. A few years ago, DW picked up a very poor quality bootleg of “The Night James Brown Saved Boston.” That was when, on April 5, 1968, James Brown had a concert at the Boston Garden that was broadcast to televisions across the city via WGBH.* We have always been particularly fond of the 1968-1971 era of James Brown, which spans from “I Got the Feelin'” to the departure of the original JB’s (Bootsy and Catfish and all them.) We were very excited to watch any footage we could of this era, even if that meant watching something that appeared to have been a camcorder-ed television, itself replaying an old VHS tape. Well, Wrall recently got a DVD set that includes this concert in WAY higher fidelity, a documentary about the night, and another concert from 1968.
*I don’t even have to look up the date, because I know it happened the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Between Mayor Kevin Brown’s White’s insistence on police forces NOT cracking down on minor instances of violence and protest in the city in the wake of that tragedy, and James Brown’s concert, which kept attendees and home viewers alike focused on something positive, Boston avoiding the riots that affected so many cities. Mayor White also arranged for the television broadcast at the last minute, which may or may not have stirred considerable controversy with James. I haven’t had an opportunity to watch the accompanying DVD documentary about the night, but I’ll report back when I do.
I won’t go into complete detail about the video now, because I’m planning an entire post dissecting and savoring all of the glorious moments.* What I will say is that we can’t help but be floored by James’ energy, emotion and pinpoint control within his show. He has the band staring at him throughout the show, afraid that he will fine them–or worse–if they miss just one cue. It seems like he’s making it up as he goes along–his dancing is erratic, incredible, and impossible to follow–but I wouldn’t put it past him to have every single movement choreographed down to the exact position of his pinkie finger.
*We’ll discuss such things as the fear in Clyde Stubbefield’s eyes, James’ zippered corduroy vest, and frequent trips offstage to fix his hair. That, and the music.
The man has talent; that can’t be denied. He has also the drive*and creativity to turn that talent into something, and that’s what separates him. We have all heard the stories about his life, and can agree that he probably made some questionable decisions. I’m not here to talk about the man on the level of a man, but on the level of a musical and cultural innovator.
*“The hardest working man in show business” doesn’t refer exclusively to his playing 400 shows in 250 days. It’s the fact that was willing to rehearse the band, and keep on them to meet his lofty standards, that he could reach the level of success that he did.
Like most success stories, though, James Brown didn’t have it easy. He came from poverty and crime and had to work against stereotypes and negative public perceptions about what he should be. His ability to surprise people with what he actually was, is something special.
Someone like Justin Timberlake, as much as we love him, should be a success. He’s a talented singer, dancer, comedian, entertainer. He’s good looking. He doesn’t have to battle racism on a daily basis. His career has been nurtured by the best in the business. I’m not saying that he had it handed to him; by all accounts he has worked as hard as anybody*, but with all of his assets, we should expect him to do what he’s done. James comes from a different background, and his ability to rise out of the challenges of his youth only strengthens his story.
*Well, maybe not as hard as James Brown…
Some would argue that James’ background helped his career, perhaps by forcing him to focus ever harder, or by learning how to be tough, play the game, manipulate situations and be the ultimate taskmaster for his band. That may be true, but it oughtn’t detract from the emergence of a remarkable music.
It’s appropriate, and no coincidence that we are watching these tapes again in the wake of an historic week. With the inauguration of President Obama the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day*, we can’t help but think of remarkable drive and talent overcoming mountainous barriers. Obama is in a position, with his intelligence and compassion, the office that he holds, and our hope in him, to do some truly remarkable things.
*I definitely heard it referred to as MLK Day Jr. a couple times; that’s pretty funny.
A friend showed me the 1996 New Yorker interview with Barack and Michelle, and it’s inspiring to see that there is a distinct thread that leads from then until now. Michelle says, “There is a strong possibility that Barack will pursue a political career, although it’s unclear. There is a little tension with that. I’m very wary of politics. I think he’s too much of a good guy for the kind of brutality, the skepticism.” The fact they’ve gone from that to President and First Lady in less than thirteen years is inspiring, scary, amazing, a cornucopia of conflicting adjectives.
I’m not sure how this went from a simple recap post to another misty-eyed moment of mush, but James Brown will do that to you. Barack too. Oh yeah, and stay tuned, because as Maceo says in the Garden video: “Keep in mind: James Brown will be back!”
Found this oldie, but goodie. All I have to say is… Yee-haw!
(Photo by Jodie Goodnough)
Okay! That’s more like it. I’ve been trying to post this video all day, and am glad to say: yay! Thanks to Sammy Bananas for not only taking the video, but for compressing, uploading, and, uh… CO-WRITING IT!
Hooray for telling it like it is, btwd.