Saturday June 9 2007
I'm sitting at the Soma Café, around 5:15 Sunday, the day after playing Great American. Funny coincidence, I'm grabbing expired flyers for writing paper, and there, behind the door, is Dirk's obit and some flyers for the gig. Took 'em. I know it's over. I've borrowed a pen —
"Actually, I have staph, I've had cellulitis, actually, it's arterial..." — overheard, amidst a steady shuffle of scruffy men on canes
Such a chaos of sensory input, including a caffeinated mocha, which I must not drink.
Too tuckered to walk all the way across the café to the computer, so I'll start this blablablogging on paper. I have felt the urge throughout this day after.
Dear Readers, I was down in the dumps after the previous Contractions performance at a certain place, no names, it's gauche. Now, I am satisfied again, ahh that is a fahh fahh better place to be, my present mood as well as the Great American Music Hall. (Woo, this caffeine is hitting me between the eyes.)
The view from my table is nostalgic, the sky is almost perfect, umm, not really, there’s a gargantuan new building going up...
Well, when I was a lass, my first foothold in Soma, formerly known as Folsom, or South of Market, that small industry, blue collar, twisted fringe of art and squalor and phenomenal bad behavior before AIDS, [that foothold] was working/playing at a legendary watering hole called Hamburger Mary's. (No relation.) And thereafter, in a microcosmic blink, rehearsing at Iguana (see above, or below) with some naughtiness at the original Stud, dawn french fries at Mel's. So, between there and there, I would walk up 12th into this same view, that San Francisco sky, large, usually encroached by only a story or two, nay, three, of manmade utility and domesticity. But, sitting here, looking out, it's still the San Francisco sky, with its clear blue or crepuscular violets or velvety grey, sunset or black with stars, no satellites, back then. In Montana, it's Big Sky. Here, San Francisco Sky.
However, I pregress.
A motorcyclist popped a wheelie, blew a car alarm, and I stuck my finger in my ear.
Little sippie of mocha...
Nostalgia is memory pain, gnos-algia, knowing pain, literally. In the beginning of our lives, we load up memory, build our narratives, so much gnos, and then, for various reasons, and in varying degrees, the algia.
Now, the Great American Music Hall has good gnos.
"Just the facts, ma'am."
Sound check, the Great American, another fine house: I could rub it, stroke it, even thought of humping it, if such an opportunity availed.
— For the show, for God's sake! —
The Strand just burned a little, I heard. Pay attention, dear Reader.
4:15 PM: Mikey and I pulled up, with my amp (preferred to that wall of Marshalls that were there for all the bands to share, for I need my subtle effects and Ol' Familiar, Marsha, the AVT 275 is 70 pounds of certainty.)
Never played here before. Heard Sarah Vaughn here. Carmen McRae. Flora Purim, and her man, Eye Ear Toe, though that may have been Keystone Korner, Blossom Dearie. I go to the box office window. Little grey-haired woman, wizened, high mileage, probably no lady. Points for all that, and I haven't walked inside.
The Great American is a great lady of a club. Ya walk in from daylight, the work-lights on, and you can see her wrinkles and her jewels. Now, I'm thinking she's a Havisham, waiting for her Pip, but that implies an unhappy past. It's GA's history, and her appearance that moves me now, much as Slim's backstage odor moved me.
Monday June 11
I'm very happy, well, content, that the Great American Music Hall show was a success. And being as this is my blog, I will keep the focus all on me, me, me.
I wanted to blog (what an unattractive word, much like an unattractive baby, you lean over and look under the blankie, and say, "Ohhh..."
I wanted to write to you, dear Readers, on the Saturday after the Friday, thought about it several times, even sat down to a highly caffeinated beverage late that afternoon, but looking at my first scribblings, I find that I was straying from le pointe. So, let us begin anew, this Monday night, at 7:31 PM.
The load-in was auspicious, in that there was no pressure, no tension. The shape of that space, even from the stage, draws the attention in with a symmetry which is very conducive. It conducts. My experience was beginning. There were the scenery people assembling frames, and fabrics, there were the techs bustling wires, stands, and buttons, roadies carrying in speaker cabinets, merchants spreading our wares, cell phone murmurs. House staff emanating. Then, true to form, with two hours of set-up, we had five minutes of soundcheck. Hell, I don't know what time it was, but the check was ... perfunctory2.
1. done as a matter of duty or custom,
without thought, attention, or genuine feeling
2. done hastily or superficially
Now, it is extremely important that little Mary Ellen gets it up in time for a performance, and I was not feeling so hot energetically speaking. Yet, the glorious theater vibe of that grand old dance hall, built in '07 by my reckoning, and the wardrobe mojo boost which Anita had given me the day before were both helpful, so the balance was tipping toward the positive. But now there were still four hours or so to go.
I kept myself held in, quiet. I ate good food at Debbie's, then took a cooling shower. I stayed out of the yakking, scanned the sports section. Mikey and I took off to the GAMH. Mikey had a surprise for me, he gave me headphones and I heard Sarah Vaughn with strings. Most inspirational.
Still, I brooded. Made the door, scurried to the backstage below, and found myself in the bosom of les artistes, that roll-out chatter and convivial bullshitting, with a smattering of shade which we are all hard-wired to do, since our first glory days.
Jessi massaged my shoulders as guitars got tuned, then our Contractions warm-up got done, inspirational this and that expressed, but above all, the Flow kept its momentum, with or without me, until I found myself unexpectedly alone, in a white-walled backstage area, pacing, but my pulse was OK. I made my peace, and stepped into the wing and onto the stage.
There could be more, but not tonight. Bon nuit, mon petites...