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COBBS HILL 2000
DREAMland Faces
INFEST1992
PETE’S ROCK BAND
BUG JAR FEST 2001
WHITE STRIPES
JOE TUNIS DAY TOUR
NOD
NORM DAVIS
COLORBLIND JAMES
LIVE AT THE LITTLE CD
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART
MOONDOG
Not really sure what year this was so we’ll call it 2000. Steve Black was in town and Margaret Explosion was a skeleton crew. Cobbs Hill is the magnetic center of Rochester, New York. Video created by Stephen Black.
Dreamland Faces performing upstairs at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York for the opening of the "Extreme Materials II" show
Dreamland Faces performing upstairs at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York for the opening of the “Extreme Materials II” show
Dreamland Faces performing at Lux in 2005
Dreamland Faces performing at Lux in 2005
Christopher Schepp poster for Infest 1992. Festival in Rochester, New York included performances by Nod, Dave Ripton, Pete's Rock Band and S.L.T.
Christopher Schepp poster for Infest 1992. Festival in Rochester, New York included performances by Nod, Dave Ripton, Pete’s Rock Band and S.L.T.

PETE’S ROCK BAND

Slag Heap by Pete’s Rock Band Live performance from Infest 1992, Genesee Valley Park, Rochester New York. Pete LaBonne – guitar, Bruce Eaton – bass, Paul Dodd -drums, Peggi Fournier – back-up vocals, Video shot by Chris Schepp. More Pete LaBonne at http://www.petelabonne.com

Pete’s Rock Band played only a few gigs and recorded oe casstee for Cheryl Lauro’s Godiva Records. Arpad Sekeres did the production. Pete LaBonne played guitar and sang, Bruce Eaton played bass and Paul Dodd played drums.

Here is the title song from Godiva Records cassette, “Antique Revolt by Pete’s Rock Band.” Recorded by Arpad Sekeres in 1992

Petes Rock Band performing at Infest in Genesee Valley Park, Rochester NY 1992
Petes Rock Band performing at Infest in Genesee Valley Park, Rochester NY 1992

WHITE STRIPES – 10th ANNUAL BUG JAR FEST, HIGHLAND BOWL ROCHESTER, NEW YORK AUGUST 12, 2001

White Stripes - 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest,Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
Roadies? We don’t need no stinkin’ roadies. White Stripes set up their own equipment.
White Stripes - 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest,Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
It was a huge crowd. Where the heck was everybody? Hermie was there.
White Stripes - 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest,Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
It was casual. Meg was playing barefoot. Those are her white shoes over to the left. And nothing but water for the clear headed Meg.
White Stripes - 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest,Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
Jack is the star but Meg rocks.
White Stripes - 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest,Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
Maybe Meg is the star and Jack rocks.
White Stripes - 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest,Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
It was casual. Meg was playing barefoot. Those are her white shoes over to the left. And nothing but water for the clear headed Meg.
White Stripes - 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest,Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
They sounded like Led Zeppelin and did great versions of Son House’s John the Revelator and Dolly Parton’s Jolene.
White Stripes - 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest,Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
Merch booth for supporting acts. White Stripes – 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest,Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
Go Go dancer at 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest,Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
Go Go dancer at 10th Annual Bug Jar Fest, Highland Bowl August 12, 2001, Rochester, New York.
Joe Tunis performing as J+n at AV Space in Rochester Public Market
Joe Tunis performing as J+n at AV Space in Rochester Public Market
Joe Tunis performing as J+n on Day Tour at railroad tracks near University Avenue.
Joe Sorriero and David Merulla watch Joe Tunis performing as J+n on Day Tour at railroad tracks near University Avenue.

NOD

Nod at Bug Jar 1998
Nod at Bug Jar 1998
Nod performing at Bug Jar 2002
Nod performing at Bug Jar 2002
Joe from Nod 2003
Joe from Nod 2003
Nod performing at Rose and Crown with Hookface 2008
Nod performing at Rose and Crown with Hookface 2008
Nod performing at German House with Chris Schepp on keyboards 2008
Nod performing at German House with Chris Schepp on keyboards 2008
Nod performing at Bug Jar 05.30.09
Nod performing at Bug Jar 05.30.09
Nod performing at Skylark 2013
Nod performing at Skylark 2013
Nod performing with Jack Schaefer at Bug Jar 2015
Nod performing with Jack Schaefer at Bug Jar 2015
Nod performing at Abilene in Rochester New York 2015
Nod performing at Abilene in Rochester New York 2015
Nod performing at Firehouse 2017
Nod performing at Firehouse 2017
Nod performing at Skylark 02.07.20
Nod performing at Skylark 02.07.20
Nod Margaret Explosionposter for gig tonight at Abeline 2008
Nod Margaret Explosionposter for gig tonight at Abeline 2008

COLORBLIND JAMES

See tribute page from when Chuck Cuminale aka Colorblind James died.

Poster by Chuck Cuminale for Colorblind James Experience Presents (the day before) Bob Dylan's Birthday Party with special guests, 05.23.1986
Poster by Chuck Cuminale for Colorblind James Experience Presents (the day before) Bob Dylan’s Birthday Party with special guests, 05.23.1986
Wilderness Family poster by Gary Miexner for performance at Jazzberys in Rochester, New York 1987
Wilderness Family poster by Gary Miexner for performance at Jazzberys in Rochester, New York 1987
Poster for Last Poets performance at Water Street in Rochester, New York 1993
Poster for Last Poets performance at Water Street in Rochester, New York 1993
Tim Dodd poster for Passion B performance at Scorgie's in Rochester, New York 10.02.1984
Tim Dodd poster for Passion B performance at Scorgie’s in Rochester, New York 10.02.1984
Armand Shaubroeck Steals "Star Death Consortium" at Holiday Inn in downtown Rochester, New York October 29 and 30, 1976
Armand Shaubroeck Steals “Star Death Consortium” at Holiday Inn in downtown Rochester, New York October 29 and 30, 1976

DOUG DUKE’S MUSIC ROOM

Marian McPartland and Linc Milliman playing piano at Doug Duke’s “Music Room” on the corner of Lake Avenue and Latta Road in Rochester, New York
Marian McPartland and Linc Milliman playing piano at Doug Duke’s “Music Room” on the corner of Lake Avenue and Latta Road in Rochester, New York
Earring Records Company Picnic invitation 1986
Earring Records Company Picnic invitation 1986
Arpad Sekeres and Cheryl Laurro feature from short-lived Rochester, New York periodical.
Arpad Sekeres and Cheryl Laurro feature from short-lived Rochester, New York periodical.

MARSHING BAND 2006

Marshing Band with Pete on ocarina, guitar and accordion
Marshing Band with Pete on ocarina, guitar and accordion
Marshing Band with Peggi on sax and drums
Marshing Band with Peggi on sax and drums
Marshing Band with Pete and Shelley on shakers
Marshing Band with Pete and Shelley on shakers
Marshing Band with Peggi on sax
Marshing Band with Peggi on sax
Marshing Band with Pete on accordion
Marshing Band with Pete on accordion
Marshing Band drums and M-Audio
Marshing Band drums and M-Audio
Marshing Band with Shelley, Peggi and Paul
Marshing Band with Shelley, Peggi and Paul

Listen to Song Number 3 by the Marshing Band 2006

Song Number 3 by the Marshing Band

LIVE AT THE LITTLE CD 2004

Live At The Little cd, Earring Records release EAR11 2004,
Live At The Little cd, Earring Records release EAR11 2004,

1. Brady Miller Trio “Qui Zas, Qui Zas, Qui Zas” (6:16) 
2. The White Hots “Black Cat Bone” (4:15)
3. The White Hots “Why Don’t You Do Right?” (3:54)
4. Ben Gallina Trio “Windows” (9:53) 
5. Margaret Explosion “Floating at the Bug Jar” (5:57)
6. Trio East “Stop-Start” (6:48)
7. Bob Sneider Duo “Benjamin” (4:26)
8. Bob Sneider Duo “My Funny Valentine” (3:50)
9. Diane Armesto Quartet “I Fall In Love Too Easily” (7:29)
10. Gene Bertoncini “Cavatina/The Shadow of Your Smile” (7:45)l

LINER NOTES: by Frank De Blase
Yessir, the Little Theatre Café; where time and calories are of no concern or consequence and where mellow is allreet.

Wish you could’ve been there. You shoulda seen me; the perfect two-tone, gabardine, patent leather personification of lonely and hopeful. Man, it was tres cool. I strolled in the joint rejected, dejected, determined to wallow in my woe over a cup of joe, to replace lost affection with confection. And dig the tunes.

Now, the cheesecake never bent to adjust its hose, nor did the brownies waltz around with bellies full of Ektachrome, but I knew them all well. We were pals. We had indulged in each other over the blood of the bean for many, many nights.

Nestled in the hip pocket of Rochester’s art house movie palace, the café hops and hums and buzzes nightly with the smart set’s witty back ’n’ forth and live jazz.

Jazz groups like those you now hold in your hot little hands serve as punctuation to each point you make, every mood you feel…even a little heartache.

You see, the red head beauty with the green eyes had just given me a one-way ticket on the adiós express leaving me with little ‘cept for a burning passion for music and dessert.

And besides the carnival monkey playing a calliope in my head, jazz has always been my soundtrack.In fact it’s yours too.

The subtle pangs of joy or righteous indignation or elation are jazz. Those lows so low they seem like numb-less highs are jazz. If it’s in the back of your mind working its way to the tip of your tongue, it’s jazz. It’s the way you walk, the way you talk. Now you know.

It’s taken me years to arrive at this, and when I finally did, I felt pretty damn smart. As well, every time I emerge from a movie, I feel somehow smarter. And I find myself (post cinematically, I suppose) wanting to prove it in the Little Theatre Café waxing – reflectively, esoterically while waving a hand that would have a cigarette in it if John Houston directed my life. Then again if he did, maybe the redhead wouldn’t have left. Or maybe she would have simply killed me instead. Perhaps he’d have me sipping espresso as opposed to my usual cup of java with enough sugar to stand a spoon in. I do know one thing…he’d have this music, sho’ ‘nuff. Bring a date, save room for dessert. Spin this disc in the meantime.

HARRY ABRAHAM

From 1969 to 1978 Harry Abraham ruled the airways with WHAM’s 50,000 powerful watts, You could listen to his show, “The Best of All Possible Worlds,” from Rochester to Indiana if you were heading n that direction as I was.

Tom Marcello photo of WHAM DJ Harry Abraham and Freddie Hubbard at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester, New York 1976.
Tom Marcello photo of WHAM DJ Harry Abraham and Freddie Hubbard at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester, New York 1976.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART

Kim Torgerson photo of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band at Carolina Coliseum, Columbus, Ohio October 19, 1972
Kim Torgerson photo of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band at Carolina Coliseum, Columbus, Ohio October 19, 1972
Poster for Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Hampton Grease Band and Screaming Gypsy Bandits at Ludlow Garage in Cincinnati in 1970
Poster for Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Hampton Grease Band and Screaming Gypsy Bandits at Ludlow Garage in Cincinnati in 1970
Kevin Yatarola photo of Captain Beefheart performing at Rochester Institute of Technology in 1971.
Kevin Yatarola photo of Captain Beefheart performing at Rochester Institute of Technology in 1971.

Love your site – makes this former Rochesterian want to come back (not), but it’s still fun and I have fond memories.  Saw your pictures of a Beefheart appearance and thought I would send this stuff along.  Beefheart made a tour through Rochester in 1971, playing at RIT (Ry Cooder opening!).  Attached is the flyer handed out plus one of the photos I took with my little camera. Maybe your readers will like it – I have other bad shots of good bands from that era if there’s interest.  It served me well, I’m still doing it (www.kebya.com is my site). Take Care, Kevin Yatarola

Ticket for Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band at Red Creek Inn November 3, 1977
Ticket for Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band at Red Creek Inn November 3, 1977

Here’s my cassette recording of Captain Beefheart performing Low Yo Yo at Red Creek in Rochester, New York 1977.

Captain Beefheart flyer for performance at RIT Ingle Auditorium in Rochester, New York with Ry Cooder in 1971.
Captain Beefheart flyer for performance at RIT Ingle Auditorium in Rochester, New York with Ry Cooder in 1971.
1982 letter from Gary Lucas concerning our inquiry about purchasing Don Van Vliet artwork.
1982 letter from Gary Lucas concerning our inquiry about purchasing Don Van Vliet artwork.
Captain Beefheart drawing at Red Creek in Rochester, New York in 1977
Captain Beefheart drawing at Red Creek in Rochester, New York in 1977

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART 
an artist, a heartist 
from FUTURE #3 010378 usa 
by greg prevost and carl mack 
is 11.77 interview

as we approached captain beefheart for an interview, he was remarking to a small gathering of fans seeking photos:

i wish i was an octopus, i really do though. i mean, could you imagine standing there octapied like that? no, i mean man, that’s beautiful, really…. i love dolphins, and octopuses.

we met the captain (don van vliet) in the parking lot, between concerts at the red creek inn here in rochester [new york, usa – t.t.] recently, during his north eastern tour. we recorded the following interview: 
greg (photographing carl and the captain holding a ‘trout mask replica’ album, leaning against a white station wagon): have to stand back a bit further. – snap! – did it work? 
carl: yeah.

i thought you said for us to stand back a bit further. i mean, that’s asking a bit too…. impossible…. but no, it is possible to go right through the car: i have done a lot of things like that. no, i mean, i have.

what is your favorite album that you recorded?

the one i just did. the name of it is ‘bat chain puller’, and i’m serious – and that isn’t for publicity reasons – and it is, man, it is góóóód! i got to hear every little note. i wrote every little note – of course, i always have – but i got every little note right on the tape.

do you write your music down?

i don’t write it down. well, i do write it down sometimes, but the way i write it most people can’t read it. like paintings. i actually do, like in ‘electricity’ (from ‘safe as milk’): the theremin fellow that played that was about 65, had a little pencil thin moustache, conservative suit, black, very, ummm… –

(in the background friends were whistling for their dog to stay out of the kitchen) – let him go. please let him go. 
owner: in the kitchen? sure, let him go get something to eat. (returning to subject:)

no, what is it? bella lugosi – no: boris – ummm, bella lugosi: ‘tonight we fly’ (waving a pointed finger toward the sky). no, he looked like that, played a theremin and was an apprentice of dr. theramin [the russian inventor of that instrument – t.t.]. and i wrote it on a blackboard and he played it note for note. i mean, i wrote it advanced music – and he played it note for note. i am talking about shapes: he did it note for note, and he didn’t miss what i thought. i mean, he was fantastic.

were you originally a musician or a painter?

i was a sculptor, a child prodigy sculptor. when i was 13, i had a scholarship to europe from ‘nuitsence creamery’ (or so – editors), and then my folks moved me to muhabbi (or so – editors; what about: mojave? – t.t.) near the high desert, where they put the oriental people during world war two, which was real sick. so here i was in mojave, a marine base, no, an air force base; i mean, in order to keep my mind the way it is, they didn’t like my eyes you see, so i had to defend myself. i mean: i had to every day. five people at a time. i mean, all you can do when people jump you like that is punch your way out – i mean, who would want to punch out? but if you don’t punch, you get poked. and i never got poked.

that was terrible, leaving that art area in los angeles. i used to go to the park zoo, i knew all the animals, sculpted all the animals, they were all friends of mine, and that’s about what all i knew were animals, and then bóom!: here i am in mojave. my folks moved there, i couldn’t get away. i ran away many times. i never went to school in my whole life. if you want to be a different fish, you’ve got to jump out of the school. 
what other bands do you listen to?

i don’t. i mean: i don’t. i have one that suits me just fine.

i’ll tell you who has been on this tour with me – and i wished he was here tonight. his name is sunnyland slim, a black blues pianist. the most fantastic. listen, i thought i had heard it all, but man, i hadn’t even begun. this fellow is a genius. there’s no doubt about it. i mean, this man is brilliant. brilliant. brilliant. i mean: brilliant. just a grand piano, and a drummer, and man he did ‘tin pan alley’ for me the other night and i was crying my eyes out. i almost fell off, in buffalo. i was standing there, and denny walley, our slide guitar player saved me, because i was falling backwards – like that, man (captain demonstrates) – and he saved me. i was falling down a hell of a flight of cement stairs. i mean he just took me. i swear i was off the ground, i think he did levitate me. i mean, i mean that. you’ve got to hear him, man.

the captain’s new drummer approaches:

and here is the percussionist, and his name is:

robert williams: robert williams.

and he is the best i have ever played with, and i have played with a lot of them. he is the best i’ve ever played with. 
what label are you on now?

i wrote ‘lick your labels off, baby’, and i’m having a little trouble getting back on a label, because they know i believe in it. but we’re in negotiation with several companies: epic, capitol….

when you changed to mercury records, your style was a little bit different from the previous albums on straight / bizarre…

‘trout mask replica’, ‘lick my decals off, baby’, ‘the spotlight kid’ and then ‘clear spot’ – the steps down, because i like people, i like to play, and i want them to play to me, with me – you see. and the point is that then i did an album for the group, because they weren’t making any money. they lent me their hands to do ‘trout mask replica’, ‘lick my decals off, baby’ – i didn’t want to do ‘clear spot’ at that time. i went down a little lower like that for the group and did ‘unconditionally guaranteed’. they left me after that, and left one with some monsters. i got these people who they could relate to, and then they gave me… –

robert williams: the shaft.

one, two, three, four, fíve days! and i gave them six yéars! they gave me five days with their audience, and with their fans as well as my fans. in europe, england, everywhere, holland, switzerland, germany, america – a tour, a big tour, and they gave me five days to get a group together to do my music. that’s what you get: ‘tonight we fly’ (once again pointing a finger toward the sky).

but thís group! i have looked for this group for twelve years! we all love animals, the whole group, complete consciousness, we know that the largest living mammal is the absent mind….

i’ve been getting these record negotiations out of the way, so i will be completely clear for publishing books and things like that. i mean, i really have a lot of novels, and a lot of poetry.

is any of that available now?

it will be. as soon as the end of this negotional things that’s on going. i have exhibits of paintings available now if you have a plane ticket. they’re back there (california – editors). i would like to do an exhibit in new york.

this concluded the interview with the captain. the band (captain – sax, lead vocal, harmonica; robert williams – percussion, drums; jeff morris tepper – guitar; denny walley – slide guitar; eric ‘black jewel kittaboo’ feldman – bass, keyboards, synthesizers) went on to do the 10:00 performance to a packed house. they played cuts from the new album and various classics from the captain’s earlier works. the band performed with amazing accuracy and enthusiasm along with the captain’s inimitable, charismatic personality.

LOUIS “MOONDOG” HARDIN

We were on the Amtrak train coming back from Manhattan with Sunday’s New York Times spread out and there was this stunning picture. Moondog had died. I had his “Sax For Pax” cd on the Refrigerator Millennium Hit Parade and even started the review with “I can’t believe Moondog is still with us.” So the idea of updating that review with his obit was very sad. Moondog stood out on the street at 54th and 6th from the late forties to the early seventies, dressed as a Viking, selling copies of his sheet music and poetry. A Manhattan friend of ours, Charlie Coco, took us over to see Moondog standing on the street in the early seventies. 

Captain Beefheart Promo Photo Mercury Records
Captain Beefheart Promo Photo Mercury Records
Captain Beefheart Promo Bio Mercury Records Page 1
Captain Beefheart Promo Bio Mercury Records Page 1
Captain Beefheart Promo Bio Mercury Records Page 2
Captain Beefheart Promo Bio Mercury Records Page 2
Upstate Magazine story on Moondog from 1970 Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, New York
Upstate Magazine story on Moondog from 1970 Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, New York

Upstate Magazine, which used to be inside the Sunday edition of the Democrat & Chronicle, published an article about Moondog in 1970. I hung to it and transcribed it below.
The Moondog article is available here as a pdf.

Upstate Hermit, Manhattan Composer, Blind Viking Poet, He’s Moondog

by Steve Knowlton

Holding a spoonful of sugar poised over the coffee cup on the counter, Marcella looked up and said. “Two sugars and a little milk, right?” 

Moondog sat in the booth at Lela’s Restaurant, exactly 60 steps down North Street in Owego from the cigar store where the New York bus stops. A smile flashed from under his immense beard and he answered, “Yes, that’s right.” Then, “See, she remembers. That’s Marcella. Her mother, Lela, owns this little place.” 

The waitress brought the coffee over to the straight-backed wooden booth and put it down in front of the massive man looking like a Viking out of an old Kirk Douglas movie. 

“I come here a lot,” said Moondog. “Particularly in the summertime when there’s not this problem with the snow. I sit and talk for hours and sometimes just listen to the old-timers come and go. Fascinating old people. Listen and talk Ñ until it’s time to go back.” 

He felt for the cup and took a sip, stuffing large bunches of beard under his chin out of the way. 

His left hand disappeared under his army blanket tunic into a leather pouch and produced a yellow plastic drinking straw with a flexible elbow. Moondog sipped the coffee and explained, “if I had a mustache cup … but I don’t and a straw is easier to carry around.” 

Officially, Moondog’s name is Louis Hardin, born in Maryville, Kansas, in 1916, the son of an Episcopal minister. But under the layers of tattered Viking garb and the shaggy grey beard, Moondog is ageless, placeless, has no history you can connect with calendar or map. 

Moondog picked his pen name from the memory of an old dog he once owned back in Missouri. It used to howl at the moon, naturally. 

By his own admission, he is a “hustler” Ñ panhandler Ñ in New York on 6th Avenue, usually in the middle Fifties. He peddles his poems and songs at ten cents a mimeographed sheet and uses all he can save up to travel back and forth to his hillside two miles or so from Candor, about 25 miles below Ithaca, eight miles from the bus stop outside the cigar store in Owego.

In 1956, after 13 years in New York, Moondog had $750 at at once and bought 40 acres on a hill a thousand miles from anywhere for what would be called a retreat if he had a good job and any money.

He and a neighbor who lives down the hill half a mile or so put up a one room sod and stone shack, “but somebody, I guess some of the kids before they got to know me, kept taking the sod out from between the stones and it got cold in the winter. And then, the mice could get in.”

So a few years later, about 1961, Moondog and another neighbor put up the foot by 16-foot cabin he now has. It’s insulated with tarpaper between the 2×4’s and heated with a wood stove that takes up about half the room.

A bed is built into one of the short walls and on the other end is a pile of tunics and leather Viking helmets and all the other junk that Moondog has collected since he came east for the last time 27 years ago. 

The nearest road to Moondog’s place hasn’t been plowed- all winter, so there are several feet of snow on it and the best way to get to the cabin is the way Moondog does it Ñ on snowshoes. 

When you make it through the drifts and get to the door, Moondog greets you warmly Ñ much warmer than the inside of the cabin Ñ and offers to take down the piece of cheesecloth over the single window so you can see your way around. 

On a little wooden table near the bed is an old skillet. A fork lies in the middle of the pan, left over from Moondog’s last meal, whenever it was. A few empty and a few unopened cans are stacked and piled up together behind the frying pan. 

At the front edge of the table a one foot square space has been cleared away and it’s here that he sits and writes his poetry, mostly coupletsÑiambic septameterÑand composes his music. 

For Moondog, that one square foot is about it for work space because that’s all there is in the shack, and the inside of the 8 by 16 foot shack is about it for living space. When he’s in New York, he sleeps in doorways, sidewalks, anyplace that’s not occupied and is out of the elements. 

”But it’s better now,” he says, “Last year a friend who owns a leather shop gave me a key and after the people leave at night, I can go in there and sleep on the floor. 

“I do some composing there too, but it’s hard. After being out all day and then going inside where it’s so nice and warm, I get awfully sleepy,” he says, a little embarrassed. 

For years he has sat there knocking out lyrics and music which is said to sound like early Donovan. Or rather, “since I was first you should say Donovan sounds like me,” says Moondog with a chuckle down under his beard. 

But his real love is classical music. A melody line comes in on him “like an elusive butterfly and you have to write it down then or it’s almost impossible to retrieve it without its sounding strained.”

The melody “is the easy part,” he says. “Then comes the real nitty-gritty work of composing – “the hours and weeks of writing out the parts to the piece, for the percussions, woodwinds, brass, strings, because Moondog thinks real music( should be written for full orchestras, not two guitars, an electric bass and drums. 

After the inspiration comes, Moondog jots down the melody line and works out the parts, using some thing like a thumbtack to poke little holes into cards, forming the Braille pattern that looks to the uninitiated like someone walked all over them in golf shoes.

Then comes the work of the reader and the copier – Moondog reads the notes out to a friend, the fingers of his rough lumberjack’s hands moving amazingly deftly along the cards. The copier takes it all down in standard musical notationÑthe language of the sighted.

Standing around the stove, or sitting in Lela’s or squatting on the sidewalk on 6th Avenue, Moondog win talk for hours on almost any subject you suggest, but history and his own brand of religion are his favorites. 

The obvious question of why the Viking look starts a long story. When he was 16 and living in Hurley, Missouri, a dynamite cap exploded in his face and permanently blinded him. 

“I thought that if the God my father preached about was good, He wouldn’t have let it happen to me. And if He was all-powerful, but had been looking the other way and not watching at the time, He would have restored my sight. But He did neither and I lost my faith.” 

From there, Moondog wandered from Braille school to Braille school, reading, listening, thinking about things, eventually arriving at the Norse gods of the Vikings; Vikings of his own heritage. 

There is a little stone monument outside the cabin on the hill outside Candor where he burns half a cigar as incense for the Norse god, Odin, and smokes the other half himself. 

“I’m very conscious of my ethnic background,” he says, gripping a Viking spear which both proves his point and supplants a red-tipped cane. “And I think everyone else should be. 

The appearance, the style are “a personal expression, a rebellion against the bourgeois uniform, as I call it, and a rebellion against my parents, I suppose, in that order.” 

The not knowing where his mother is, “somewhere in Missouri I think.” The brother who’s a doctor somewhere who never answered Moondog’s last letter three or four years ago. The note from his stepmother saying his father “is dead and buried.” 

“They didn’t invite me to the funeral. Even in death, they wouldn’t forget the appearance.” Then, with a forced almost-laugh, “But you could say that even in death I wouldn’t forget the appearance,” spreading his arms to show you what he meant. 

Does he belong in the East Village, surrounded by the hundreds of young people with similar backgrounds? 

“Young people are often drawn to me,” he says, “but I’m not necessarily drawn to them. For example, I want nothing to do with anyone who takes drugs of any kind, even marijuana.” People high on grass “are very introspective and very contemplative, which is good,” he says, “but all they do is think. They can’t conquer mountains because the marijuana has killed the incentive, the drive. 

“I can’t put up with anyone who doesn’t do anything,” he says. 

People at the Columbia Records watched him out on the streets under their windows for years, Moondog says, and they got to know him, to know that he composes symphonic pieces along with the folk music and the poems. 

Six months or so ago, Moondog got together with the Columbia and agreed to cut an album of Moondog music. The record of eight symphonic pieces made it to number 6 on the classical charts before Christmas and then fell off. 

“But Lenny (Leonard Bernstein) preceded me down, so that’s good,” Moondog says, starting into long. personal feud with Bernstein starting 20 years or more ago when Moondog says Bernstein slighted him. 

Money from the album sales hasn’t come in yet, he says. He got some at the beginning, but royalties are only given out twice a year and it isn’t time yet for the first check. 

If any is forthcoming, and Moondog is hopeful but not overly optimistic about it, “I think I’d have some electricity put in the shack on the hill. 

“Tending the stove is all right, but it’s awfully time-consuming when it’s really cold and I can’t really concentrate on my composing. An electric heater would be nice.” 

Beyond that, if he really makes it big Ñ “I’ve got at least ten more albums full of music already written Ñ” Moondog would like to go to Europe. “I’ve always considered myself a ‘European in exile” he says although he’s never been to Europe. “I never had the money,” a little sadly. 

Lela is working now and Marcella, bundled up for the snow, has left the restaurant. 

She brings more coffee Ñ two sugar, a little milk Ñ over to the booth. In a minute, the oversize, cumbersome cash register rings up $1.10 for lunch from one of the old timers who hang out there, particularly in the wintertime. 

“Hear that?” says Moondog, and his shaggy head cocks to one side. A smile from under the beard again and he says, “you don’t see cash registers like that anymore. Doesn’t it sound nice?” It’s about two feet high and is a dirty brown, isn’t it?” 

Although he’s been sightless for almost 40 years, Moondog still thinks very much in visual terms and he starts talking about the prettiest girl he ever saw, just a few months before the accident Ñblonde hair, grey eyes, a complexion like ivory. 

It’s about 4:30 and at 4:55 the bus leaves for New York, back to the hustling, the crowds, the sleeping in doorways. And a little money. Maybe word from the Columbia people that the album has taken another upswing for some unexplainable reason. Maybe by next week, Europe will he a little closer. 

The right hand dips into another pouch hidden by the tunics and comes out with a quarter. “I think we should leave a little tip,” says Moondog and flips the coin onto the table. 

The album, entitled Moondog” with a color picture of a gnarled old Viking on the cover is standing on top of the cash register. Lela smiles and tells Moondog that it’s there. 

He smiles and thanks her and sure, he’ll be back pretty soon. It’s out into the blowing snow again, a leather sack under one arm, the spear in the other. 

Twenty-two steps back up the street, he’s talking about the album again. “The only way I would agree to do it was to not let Columbia hear it before it was recorded,” Moondog says. “That doesn’t happen very much in this day and age.” 

A few steps of silence, musing. 

“Rare is the man who isn’t bought,” says Moondog. Forty six. 

At fifty-two, “It’s the next doorway. Just a little shop: sells cigars and candy and like that. But they’ve got my record. The man who owns the store says he’s got in a whole shipment of the album. Look, see if they don’t.” They do. 

Fifty-eight, fifty-nine, sixty. Stop. 

“No, don’t wait. The bus might be late. It was last time and the roads are getting bad I bet. You’d better he off.”

He’s standing there, the leather sack on the ground beside him. Ten dollars and twenty cents turned into a one-way ticket from Owego to New York City. 

In the swirling snow and soft darkness folding in on him, he waits the spear in his right hand, one end on the ground. An engine rumbles. 

“Is that the bus? No, just a truck. Never mind. It’ll be along any minute”

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