The Courage To Create

Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph performing at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York
Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph performing at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York

Two nights in a row at the Bop Shop. I wish I still bought records. I did look through a few boxes of 45s labeled “New This Week,” all vintage but in great shape, but I didn’t buy anything. We were there for performances by Amy Rigby on Friday night and then Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph on Saturday. Hamid reminded us at the end of their set that we should all be thankful for performance spaces like this, an outlet for people with the courage to create. Drake was part of the first act Tom booked in his old space in the Village Gate and that was thirty years ago.

We have heard Hamid Drake with Fred Anderson and Ken Vandermark and Peter Brotzmann. He is a sensational drummer. Both he and Adam Rudolf played with Don Cherry, Yusef Lateef and Pharaoh Sanders. They learned from the masters. Years ago when Hamid played Milestones I asked him who his favorite drummer was and he told me it was Ed Blackwell, who he studied with. I reminded him of that conversation last night and he said he had moved on from Blackwell’s influence because he felt he was sounding too much like Blackwell, as if that’s possible. His mentor, Yusef Lateef, taught, “the tradition is to sound like yourself. To play your aboriginalness.”

Hamid says he “has been developing a hand drum concept on the drum set while Adam has been developing a drum set concept on his hand drums.” They played one long but perfectly controlled set and finished with a mesmerizing piece where Hamid sang a Buddhist chant while playing a frame drum and and Adam played sintir while throat singing backups. Despite subscribing to music streaming services, we bought their new cd,”Karuna.”

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Amy Rigby Holy Card

Amy Rigby holy card on table at home
Amy Rigby holy card on table at home

I still have my holy cards spread out on the rug in our living room. Still sorting and identifying the ones with no identification, apart from the distinctive iconography. Of course that is Santa Agueda with her breasts in a bowl but who is that shown with two lions and a Roman building? A half hour’s research proves it is Santa Thecla, the first woman martyr. Meanwhile the post card announcing Amy Rigby’s gig at the Bop Shop is still on our table. Catching it out of the corner of our eyes, both Peggi and I keep thinking it is a holy card.

Amy Rigby, performing without her famous husband, captivated a large crowd in the performance space at the Bop Shop on Friday night. She was in fine form as she presented her many gifts – her devotion to song craftsmanship, her charm and wit, her shared fandom and literary lyrics. I get “From to” but I’m still mulling over the lyrics to the enigma,”Robert Altman,” as well I should be. I am a huge fan of Amy’s writing so of course we bought her new augmented song book with lyrics to her new lp, “Old Guys.” as well as a hand picked selection of blog posts.

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Fly Into The Sun

Amy Rigby solo gig at Abilene in Rochester, New York

We packed up our gear as quickly as possible last night and headed across town to Abilene where Amy Rigby was doing a solo set. Game 2 of the World Series wasn’t enough of a conflict for Margaret Explosion, Amy was playing at the same time as Margaret Explosion. Rochester was the first stop on a tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of her “Diary of a Mod Housewife” cd with a first-time vinyl release. We were thrilled o find her still on stage, performing a new song, but it was the last song of her encore.

She did a booming business at the march table after the show and posed for photos with fans and then showed us one of the silk-screened towels that she and Eric made for the people who contributed to the campaign to fund her record. It was beautiful and we wanted one but we’ll have to wait until more are printed.

Rick Simpson has a weekly show on WRUR called “Gumbo Variations” and he plans his shows around musician’s birthdays or the anniversaries of their death. It has been three years since Lou Reed’s death and he he asked Peggi and I if we would put together a few sets of his music. We chose “Perfect Day”, “I Love You, Suzanne”, “Walk On The Wild Side”, “Last Great American Whale”, “Pale Blue Eyes” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties” from the Velvets period and then “Fly Into The Sun.”

I was a little leery about how the big 80’s drum sound in “I Love You, Suzanne” aged but Peggi lobbied hard for it. We’re listening to his show now.

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Look Out Below

The cold snap changed the color of our giant pumpkin from rusty yellow to a deep orange. I figured we better get it out of our doorway before it thaws so we rolled it into our wheelbarrow and took it across the street to ask our neighbors if we could roll it down the hill behind their house so the deer could have it. Other years we’ve rolled our pumpkins down the hill behind our house but we have a road down there and if they manage to get through the trees they zoom across the road and wind up in the creek. This year’s pumpkin was big enough to take out a car so we rang Rick’s bell. The crazy thing is that when we let it fly it scared the hell out of the three deer that were down there and they hightailed it out of sight.

Rick and Monica asked us if we’d like to come over for dinner and we took them up on that. Eric and Amy were staying with them. Both Eric and Amy are art school veterans so we started the evening looking at my paintings and talking art. I’m thinking of buying one of Eric’s Kodak paintings.

Dinner conversation switched to music as we discussed matters such as whether The Stooges or The Ramones made a bigger impact on music. Eric has a piece in the new Mojo about his upcoming reunion of the Len Bright Combo but he is defiantly moving forward. The Mojo interview contains this killer quote. “It might even sound modern now but in the ‘80s it probably sounded horrible to people because in those days every snare drum hit was an event in itself.” And Amy is at the top of her game. She is a brilliant songwriter. I am a huge fan and am looking forward to her book.

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Shut The Fuck Up

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby at Lovin Cup in Rochester, New York 2013

Wednesday was a funny night. People expected a big band version of Margaret Explosion but Pete was the only special guest able to make the gig. His piano playing was great and worth the free admission. We packed up quickly and drove out to the Lovin’ Cup in Henrietta to catch the the tail end of Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby’s set. Eric seemed out of sorts and off his between song, free-association game. He kept looking over to the noisy crowd gathered around the bar. Twice he asked if they could turn the tv off. “You don’t go out to watch tv.” The edge added to the excitement for me and musically they sounded better than ever. I love how they trade songs and support one anothers’. I love it when Eric sings high harmonies to Amy’s voice and I loved it when they smiled at each other and kissed in the encore. This is way post punk stuff.

Peggi talked to Amy after the show and Amy told her they felt like they had to do some different material because they’ve played here so often. How many times has it been, six or seven? We’ve been to them all. Eric even did his “Men In Sandals” fashion send up even though Tom Kohn, the one that brought him here, was sitting at the merchandise table in open toe footwear. Their three song encore included a beautiful version of Tom Petty’s “Walls Fall Down.” We learned that before we got the club the bar had a beer tasting and some those idiots stuck around for the show. Eric told them to “shut the fuck up” and someone who had come to the show chimed in only to get thrown out by the club owner.

Watch their brilliant video and see them next time at a better venue.

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Space Age Couple

Chris Schepp and Wreckless Eric at house concert in Rochester, New York

OK, so I sort of caught Eric by surprise but it’s a good picture of Chris Schepp, Rochester’s number one Wreckless fan, and the expression on Chris’s face perfectly captures the mood at last night’s house concert. As if we were living in our own dream this fifth Rochester appearance in the last few years was right across the street from our house. When we moved here and got to know the hosts, Rick and Monica, we learned they were Amy Rigby fans but had never heard of Wreckless Eric. We had never heard of Amy but we loved Wreckless. When Eric and Amy first came through town as a duo we spotted our neighbors in the front row. I told Amy this story last night during their break and she said it often works that way. I also told her the song about her daughter makes me cry. She liked that.

Last night we were in the front row in our neighbors house and I held my camera in my lap. I caught them doing a Tom Petty song and Amy’s beautiful “Don’t Ever Change.”

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To Dennis Hopper

We started out sitting with friends in the back of the room at Lovin’ Cup but had to move up when Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric took the stage. We found a spot down front with Chris Schepp. That’s his cream soda bottle that gets placed in front of my camera in the movie above. I was drinking the Rocky Mountain IPA and it was way too strong for me. I propped my camera up on a jar with a candle in it, a lit candle, and I melted the bottom of my pocket Nikon. Ah, but we had a good time. These two are so charming, so relaxed on stage, so comfortable with themselves. They’re not afraid to stop songs, which they did twice, and their between song banter is worthy of Gracie and Allen. We came to these two through Wreckless Eric’s songs from the mid seventies. They were unlike anything else at the time and “Whole Wide World” sounds as good today as it did back then. In fact I prefer it today with just two guitars. Amy more than holds her own with beautiful songs.

They did both sides of their new single, two really odd songs, one Amy’s, one Wreckless’s. They have their own thing going on. but ironically, their new cd is all covers. We bought a copy on the way out. In true Wreckless form none of the tags were there when I ripped it in iTunes so I had to enter my own. I misspelled ‘favorites” at first as the name of the cd is “Two-Way Family Favourites,” English style. It includes sensational versions of “Fernando” and “In My Room” and the Byrds song in the video which they dedicated to Dennis Hopper.

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Why I Hate The Beatles

Today’s paper had a picture of “Rain” doing their Beatles tribute. I guess they are in town at the Auditorium. It was one of those dreamlike pictures where the people sort of look like somebody you know and you stare at it but something is off. Maybe my perception was altered by the dream Peggi told me about this morning. We had a big party and my brother and sister-in-law’s RIT buddies were all here with my family. I was thinking,”we don’t really know their RIT buddies”. My mom sat on the coffee table that my brother built and it broke so my brother tried to fix it. Maybe it was the Vox amps in that picture but something triggered “From Me To You” and that damn thing was stuck. I went to Kevin’s blog hoping to cleanse my mind but he didn’t have a fresh post up there. He has some cool links to other music blogs so I followed a few. I bought an Amy Rigby/Wreckless Eric 45 with PayPal bucks and then found the perfect audio antidote.

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Pit Bull & Jesus

White Pit Bull with Jesus in Rochester, New York
I took this photo over by the Public Market on Saturday. The dog is real.

It really bugs me that the Quicktime Pro “Export for Web” feature generates a movie that is not supported on the iPod Touch so I’m through with it. I put five or six movies from this blog (including my shaky  Wreckless Eric / Amy Rigby video with extra footage) up on YouTube today and I switched the links. I hope I don’t effect the price of Apple stock with that. And I see the Bobby Henrie & The Goners video I put up there in my last post has a hundred views already.

Old guys are allowed to have favorite cashiers at Wegmans. I asked mine were the charcoal was and she led me down the aisle! She pointed to a big pile of Briquettes and I said, “no, regular charcoal.” She said, “What is regular charcoal?”. I saw a few bags of the old fashioned lump charcoal and I grabbed one of those and thanked her.

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Dancing With Joey Ramone

We were thrilled to hear Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric were coming back to Rochester so soon after their last performance here. You’d think it was boring in France where they currently live. They got off to a slow but steady start. I say “slow” only because the highlights for me are the bantering between songs. They intensify the music. Like when Eric’s guitar fell over and he went off on a beautiful tirade about creeps who work in music stores and try to sell you all this junk, with their Fender t-shirts and know it all attitudes. “They start talking about a movie and they tell you the whole fucking story”.

Amy Rigby who seemed overwhelmed by Eric’s antics last time they were here really held her own this time and contributed equally to the banter. She said she was all dressed in black until the Gay Pride parade went by on Goodman and went to the rental car to slip into this dress. We watched part of the parade and saw Mayor Duffy again as he strutted by to a round of cheers. I took a shaky movie of Amy’s fantastic tribute to Joey Ramone.

We got there just as Jenna and The Horselovers were finishing their set. They sounded fuller than ever with the addition Jack Schaefer on lead guitar. Jenna looked great in her pink dress. We love her voice and are big fans.


You People Look Quite Vulgar

Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby were about a half hour late showing up for their gig at the atrium in Village Gate. It seems the shows usually start mercilessly on time at this venue so we were happy to be the same schedule as Eric. And it was Eric were here to see. Our friends and neighbors, Rick and Monica, were here too but it was Amy Rigby who got them out of the house. It was funny to see the folky/singer/songwriter crowd mixing with the punky/oddball crowd. And these guys pulled it off.

Eric wanted to be home and who can blame him. They live in the south of France. They started with an anthemic call to “Keep driving until the wheels fall off”. These two are clearly in love so one of the lines was, “When we’re driving together, at least we’re a little closer to home”.

But Eric was most entertaining between songs when he just ran away at the mouth. They had played in Canada the night before and he told the crowd, “Canadians are the most unvulgar people I have met in my life. You people, on the other hand, look quite vulgar to me”. Matt, who records most shows for the Bob Shop, had his black mannequin head with binaural mics set up down front and Eric said he like to thank the head for showing up tonight. They had been in San Francisco and Chris Wilson from the Flaming Groovies came out to see them and told Eric that Cyril Jordan was a fan of Eric’s. He was quite blown away by this.

Amy is Eric’s biggest fan and she laughed heartily at all his nonsense. She sang some great songs as well like the one with the refrain, “Last night I was dancing with Joey Ramone”. I played drums for a while with another couple, Mary and Jon (Gary), and Amy reminded Peggi and me of Mary.

Eric and Amy rocked fine without drums and certainly didn’t need the cheesy little drum machine they used on a couple songs. They tore it up on “Kilbourn Road”, “Take The Cash K.A.S.H.” and “Whole Wide World”. They played for over two hours and seemed to be having a ball. Amy said this had been the best crowd of their tour and I was there when Tom Kohn paid them their measly 400 bucks. Not that Tom made and money. All is not right with this world.