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Night Out With The Swampkings


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~ Donna Dahl Links ~

listen originals

An unusual and lovely birthday!

Highlights of the fam ~

Damien gave me many toys of his; Gen, a soft nightgown; Mary will be treating me

to a slurpee or ice cream cone; Melanie made 2 cards (one while in a cast from broken

finger) and earlier this week gave chocolates and a tiny candle; Leah gave also multiple

gifts, the 2nd of which are vintage earrings; Anna astounded me in making a necklace -

it is 7 squares of plastic decoratively hung - each square contains the name of my child, in

Japanese, and the squares are beautifully, colorfully inscripted; and Dylan will be taking me to

see The Pretenders !

Mom and I will sup somewhere to come; Mia dropped off a girlfriend card - then appeared again w/ a FABULOUS

fresh strawberry pie, several kinds chips and dips...it was so hot today this was a perfect meal. Kayla got this nice

black frame, w/ a black treble cleff etched on the front and that will go on the wall behind my kit!

It took awhile to wind down come evening and I gave myself time to do so. I was to pick up Kayla and Jeff F. but K.

got sick Wed. so it was just me and Jeff. I was glad to see he brought his horn (tenor). His video stuff too, but there

was a glitch somewhere and he'd only 25 minutes of "film".

I feverntly hope he got vid. of himself sitting in w/ The Swampkings, and that he puts it up.

The Schooner was a lovely place - not decor wise but honest w/ its particular patrons and ambiance. Dan Coffeen

(recorded the MP3 w/ Jeff F in attendence at The Monitors' studio) was already there. He looked serene and something else I can't

put my finger on. I felt glad for his company - protective-brother feeling, tho there was of course no danger or anything

like that. Dan had been to Europe recently and he gave me a birthday present so special I don't want to say what it was.

He had had some singular experiences there in Ireland. Something beautiful, I think, is happening for Dan related to his time

in Europe with his family.

Jeff F. warmed up on his horn while Dan and I thoroughly dug The Swampkings. O my dear Lord, they were so very good.

Toby Lee Marshall (the Hammond King!!) was also on board. I couldn't believe it wasn't sro, but there ya go, the life of a

musician. The familiarity of a long standing acquaintance is such a blessing! Simple things like commenting briefly on The Swampkings

(esp. drummer Connor McRae), certain patrons, etc; and then I looked at Dan and said, "I miss JC...I really miss JC," (John Clegg

tenor and bari, who died Feb '08). Dan said likewise and we toasted JC.

Drummer Connor MCrae is 24 years old. He is accomplished and authoratative , so much that immediately I thought of Michael Bland,

Stewart Copeland or others equally identifiable by mastery and personality on their instrument. The whole band was just very, very

appreciated for their musicality by Dan, Jeff and I. Connor is left handed, completely fluent + lots of delight with his sticking on rims,

cowbell, great hi-hat work, etc;

I didn't sit in til last set, almost opted out entirely. I told Tom Harkness I didn't want to now that I knew they are even better

live. Tom was very cool (reminds me so much of Mike Loonan in that!) and assured me Connor would switch his drums (and the mic)

around, etc; Meanwhile, the first 2 sets, Jeff F was tearing it up with those guys. He continually astounds me, Jeff F does.

One thing we have in common is both being late bloomers. Jeff seems in full flower yet I sense that the cat is just beginning to hit

stride- there is def. more to come w/ him. Also in guitar, singing, writing, video and art. Plus God knows what else. He hadn't played

his horn in months nor played out in forever.

The band was bright and communicative in trading solos and lines, by turns Tom and Toby Lee echoing Jeff F, vice versa, everyone bring-

ing each other higher. The drums were unmiced and Connor was delightful with his closed rolls, fiddling w/ the time and dynamics.

Plus everyone looked healthy and good. They say that age 50 is "the new 30"...and I'm not sure what exactly these mid

and upper age 40's are "supposed" to look like, but everyone on that stage looked good!

Dan left mid 2nd set. When I was almost turning down Tom to sit in, Dan gave me that look and said, "you should." It was because

it was Dan saying it, who's known me since I was 18 and in some particular struggles, that I could take it to the bank. As soon as I sat down

and we began a rumba (?) I think, I wondered why I'd thought I couldn't fit w/ those guys - probably cause of the technical proficiency of either the musicians, songs or both. I don't have an answer - honestly I didn't think I could cop. It didn't even bum me out, took it as a point of fact like the sky is blue not purple. But it was evident that I'd been mistaken. I enjoyed playing with them very much. The bassist Matt Page was wonderful and inspiring, and ended up playing all but one song I think, of the last set.

This is my 2nd time around I guess as a musician. The most recent thing I've to compare to is many years ago; and because the 80's was when

I was last out there, my thoughts and comparisons automatically go hence. Thus, as I saw Connor sitting at his table and didn't feel anything

as I used to when a younger player...wondering what he was thinking, seeking to impress, none of that! But rather...ya know when you're

a kid just whipping around the playground or at the river giving it all you have on the rope swing w/ friends, acquaintances,

chance-meeting kids for that day? THAT'S what it was like! Joie De Vivre. Ditto for when he jumped up to front some songs.

This was obviously different from O'Gara's, which had a definite showcase-feel. Too, other players inspire me to the point

I fear falling apart for being in awe of what they play at the moment. Esp. Jared's Hammond and Mischke singing! This also

happened w/ my 1st pro-band reunion...so I figured that would be a factor particularly with The Swampkings. Yet tonight, even

if that did happen which I doubt, I wouldn't have cared, there was something so relaxed about it all. Plus the audience was

great. For the first time ever, tonight I equated the audience as a whole and individually being as important as the band is. It

was almost palpable.

[Edit Aug 17 - happy b-day Luch! - Wanto say more about new gleanings of the audience. Previous to Aug 14, I simply

had not the level of awareness or take-it-in ability of what the listener or audience is. Even tho I, too, have spent a lifetime being

a fan. Therefore presently I would answer no to the Zen question if a tree falls down in the woods does it make a sound

if no one is there to hear it?]

V. glad to sing - b/u plus a verse of Feeling' Alright and I copped as exactly as possible Danny Hutton's 2nd verse,

devotion in my heart for 3DN! (From Three Dog Night: Captured Live At The Forum, 1969).

By evening's end, Tom gave Jeff and I a CD...I told Tom I was going to learn all the songs, "I've already

started learning them." I think his and my voices would sound v. good together. Ya know what can I say? He's great, as a guitarist,

vocalist, writer. I want to think about his playing right now, not try to describe it.

Connor gave me a pair of drumstiicks - and what really rocked, he presented them to me: "As a memento of your

night with us, and happy birthday!"

Afterward, Jeff F, Tom and I hung out for an hour or so...we wanted to go eat but nothing open that late. Actually pursued this in a

caravan, but ended up chatting awhile by the side of the deserted late-night road when it became evident nothing was open. Jeff F.

was his usual v. grateful-and-giddily-inspired self. At one point I said (simultaneously as Jeff bantered on) hey Tom, you see how this

is - when w/ Jeff F one is required to not only listen and respond, but all the physical touch...because our hero, when inspired, constantly

holds out a hand to shake it, or hgh five and etc;

Tom asked us if we were free to get together next week. We'll be in touch on that. Tom mentioned wanting to play his acoustic more

and I asked, would it be too many acoustics if all three of us got together and played? T. said not at all. So...my one free eve next week

already taken up w/ a rehearsal of my 1st pro-band...I am going to see about freeing up another night.

Now it is very early morning of "the next day" and I am content because I wanted this written while still fresh.

PS: Jeff F. and I are going to the High School reunion this eve. Dylan will sit w/ his siblings. I expect to see dozens of people I

know, JF will see hundreds, and some of mine newly connected. I wish we had an opp. to play, tho. But I'll be up for dancing,

having a great time and an earlier evening.

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