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"rocktoberfest" Post-Mortem...


The “Rocktoberfest” show went good. (I attribute it primarily to our being practiced.) No flubs (at least not any noticeable ones), and the few special tidbits—the stops for the bass runs in “Tillamook Railroad Blues” and the deliberately slowing-down last line in “No Good Songs About the War”—came off without a hitch, and made us seem uber-professional.

Small audience, of course—one shouldn’t expect otherwise at 10:00 on a Saturday morning—but it included some folks I recognized, that I’m pretty sure were there just to see us. And we had the captive audience, of course—the vendors, “Rocktoberfest” staff, and the schoolkids who’d been enlisted to do everything from man the gates to be roadies for the bands’ equipment.

The stage was a hollowed-out semi trailer provided (I think) by the radio station, wired for electricity; I think they got that trick from the first “Moograss” bluegrass festival in Tillamook (on a cold, windy and rainy Labor Day weekend), when we retreated from the outdoor stage and found a dairy barn with a flatbed semi trailer parked in it, and said “Aha! Instant stage!” The sound inside the metal trailer was awful (of course), even with monitors, but folks in the audience said we sounded great.

We started late (also de rigeur for opening acts), because the sound crew hadn’t finished stringing up lights; that meant we did a 40-minute set (like all the bands after us were going to do), rather than a full hour, but it was okay—we knew everything, and it was easy to cut stuff to fit.

For some reason, “Dead Things in the Shower” appeals primarily to women, and “Bluebird on My Windshield” mostly to guys; we’ve been playing both every show, and it’s probably important to keep it that way. Stan Good’s “Un-Easy Street” is a never-ending hit, and so is Gene Burnett’s “Things Are Getting Better Now That Things Are Getting Worse.” And the band does a tremendous job on both.

The one new one (for us) that we did was “When I Jump Off the Cliff I’ll Think of You.” Very fast bluegrass; we did all nine verses with no breaks (not having a lead player), and I think it actually comes across better that way. The song follows a suicide, stage by stage, from jumping off the cliff to finally being buried—with increasingly caustic comments about the girl he’s leaving behind—and not having any breaks makes the whole thing feel more manic.

Tried a trick, too, to cover for the absence of a lead player. We have to have a break in the middle of “For Their own Ends,” the Southern Pigfish song, so I can rest my voice; the song’s got seven verses, and is in a key that’s hard for me to sing in—but I can’t do much on the guitar besides the rhythm rock progression I’m already doing. When we were practicing Wednesday night, John tried some bass “fills” in the break that sounded really good (I’d never thought of a bass lead)—so on Friday, he tried doing the same thing to some of the more country songs, and that sounded good, too. So in concert, “Armadillo on the Interstate,” “No Good Songs About the War,” “Tillamook Railroad Blues” and “For Their Own Ends” all got bass leads. It worked well. When Dick comes back from vacation, we are going to be SO good…

We were followed on stage by an acoustic folk duo (perfect—we won’t be compared to another band). And we were recorded! Mike Simpson (the music teacher, and organizer of the “Rocktoberfest”) brought equipment from his recording studio, and caught (I think) our entire performance on—well, it’s not tape these days, but whatever they use instead of tape. He said we came across great, and I can’t wait to listen.

UPCOMING for the band is more recording for the album, though not until after the end of the month; no immediate shows on the horizon, but I don’t know what business might result from our “Rocktoberfest” performance. For myself, I’ve got the solo Insomnia Coffee Co. gig in Hillsboro Oct. 24—and the burlesque troupe is going to do a post-mortem Oct. 11 (which, as this is written, is tomorrow).



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