if at first you don’t succeed, redefine success.

so, yeah. i played live. and i played one of my own songs. i haven’t done that in about four years. it was interesting.

at the time i said yes to doing the show, i felt pretty good. by the time the show rolled around, not so much. it’s complicated. oh, the joys of post-romantic mess disorder.

if you want the naked truth, it was the most uncomfortable i’ve ever been building up to doing anything in a live setting. ever. but i was sitting at a table with the best people i could have had in my corner. between rounds they said, “work the body! why you keep stickin’ the jab? do some damage or we’re gonna throw in the towel!” because, you see, i am a boxer. somehow my nose has yet to be broken in a fight. but you really don’t want to see my torso uncovered. all those unblocked body blows add up.

i’m not going to get into graphic detail, because a lot of things that happened were personal. like the guy who came up to me and thought i was a faith healer and asked if i could revive his pet hamster rufus, tears swimming in his luminous orbs. you wouldn’t believe what transpired when i told him i was actually a certified sausage salesman.

the point is, a lot of people played at phog that night. the crowd was loud. i mean “talking in the middle of songs and not paying a whole lot of attention” loud. adam and i went on pretty late in the evening. and then everyone shut up and listened.

maybe it was because tom got up onstage and said, “alright, everyone shut up and listen now.” but that doesn’t account for how they reacted to us. the audience response was insane. i mean, see for yourself in the videos at the bottom of this post.

being up there was not the most comfortable feeling, but it was better than waiting to get up there. it helped to be playing with someone i feel comfortable with, musically and otherwise.

i’m not sure anyone should expect this to become a regular thing, but i’m glad i forced myself to do it, even though i wasn’t in very good emotional shape. sometimes it’s good to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. just as long as you don’t end up in a massage parlour with a ball of yarn and an unfamiliar belt in your hand.

thanks to tom and frank for making phog such a great place for five years running now, and for all of the support. thanks to angela for taking these pictures, and for being there. thanks to adam for backing me up (usually it’s the other way around, which is a lot less nerve-wracking for me) and making a mean enchilada. thanks to everyone who came out and everyone who came over to the table to chat for a bit. thanks to mickey rourke for proving you can crash and burn and still come back, looking a little rough around the edges, but stronger and more interesting for it.

and thanks to tom a second time for filming our performance and putting it up on youtube. i bet you never thought you’d see the day my hairy mug showed up there.

quick deviation from the subject at hand: a new CD is finished and packaged and all that exciting stuff. it’s called AN ABSENCE OF SWAY. it will either be on its way to you, or waiting at a place where you can grab it at your leisure (i.e. dr. disc) soon.

supplies will be limited for a little while. the power supply for the laptop i use for all things CD-related just decided to crap out on me. so until i can get a replacement sometime next week, i don’t have many copies to work with. it also didn’t help that the master copy i used to make duplicates took a nasty fall and got all scratched to hell. i’ll have to make another one, once that computer decides to be my friend again. but fret not, because it shouldn’t take long.

i don’t know how people will respond to the album. it’s a bit of an odd one. i think i’m pretty happy with the way it came out, though. i suppose that’s the impotent thing. give it some viagra and who knows what’s liable to happen.

and now, without further adieu…it’s porn! only not. dig how i manage to fuck up somewhere in every song. one of the strings on the six-string banjo is out of tune, but as luck would have it, once adam starts playing guitar it kind of covers that up. never again will i bring that thing onstage with me without making sure it’s in tune first.

the videos seem to be a little janky when they’re embedded here, so if the visuals seem a little sluggish, click on the song titles and they’ll take you directly to youtube.

DREAMS (fleetwood mac cover)


OUT OF THE ARMS
(adam)


A WELL-THOUGHT-OUT ESCAPE
(me)
(a bit of the intro got cut off. adam announced that we would be playing one of my songs, and then i said, “this song was written for a television personality on CMT. that’s country music television. cable channel 37.” i’m not sure people knew quite what to make of that. but if you’ve ever wondered just what i’m singing at the end of the song, it’s “ashley kranz”. i was watching TV when i came up with the initial banjo idea, and there she was, and i didn’t know what else to sing. eventually i wrote proper words, but her name kind of stuck for some reason. so there you go. one little mystery that wasn’t a real mystery solved.)


STILL LIFE
(adam)
(watch out for the moment mid-song when i take my glasses off, put them in my mouth, and then manage to almost invisibly catch them seconds later when they fall from my lips. smooth? idiot luck? you be the judge.)

11 comments

  1. ahhhhh! i was just listening to ‘a well thought-out escape’ today on a walk home from downtown and i thought to myself, “gee, i have to ask johnny what exactly he’s saying…i think it’s ashley kranz, but who the hell is she?” yes, mystery solved, indeed!

    i look forward to seeing a live show at phog in the future…hopefully not too distant in the future! sorry i missed this one.

  2. i’m sorry i didn’t tell you about it…i didn’t tell anyone about it, really. i felt like rancid hummus going into it and half-expected to degenerate into an incoherent mess while on-stage. but i guess it ended up going pretty well, all things considered.

  3. it’s ok…i understand 🙂 i’m sure it was a nerve-racking build-up, but glad to hear (literally) it went really well. but you must spread the word next time. pretty please.

  4. i am so disappointed that i didn’t get to see this show. i would have been singing at the top of my lungs with you, to a well thought out escape. that’s one of my favourites off that album. you did great!

  5. i thought it might be ashley graves. though sometimes it sounds like “hash leak rains.”
    great videos, though. i think audience members appreciate what performers might perceive as imperfections in live shows… they add character to the performance. i think so, anyway. and yay for fun banter!

  6. those videos were awesome, and I, too, wish I coulda been there. great stuff, you guys go well together.

    also, that glasses acrobatic routine was very sexy. :p

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