Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Few Words About Robyn In Piermont

I got to see Robyn Hitchcock at Piermont, New York's The Turning Point last night.  Showtime was 7:30 PM; it was still light outside, and Robyn joked about pretending that it was a lunchtime show at the opening of the gig.  Although I have seen Robyn Hitchcock perform in the bright sunshine at a couple of West Coast outdoor concerts back in the 90's, this time it seemed odd to be witnessing his show before twilight. Robyn performed acoustically and solo, delivering an intense set punctuated with his usual surreal between-the-songs patter. My favorite of those was a tale of prisoners who were nightly returned to their jails by blimps to which they were tethered at their ankles.  He steamed on through to the end of the show, taking no breaks. 

The Turning Point is a great room in which to see someone like Robyn.  It's in the basement of an early 19th-century house: a little dark, heavily air conditioned, and oddly cozy.  It's also so small that the effect of seeing a show there is like being entertained at the private party of someone very fortunate.  The sound and the sightlines are excellent.   

The local Robyn Hitchcock faithful were out in force, singing along and keeping set lists.  I make a point of NOT keeping a set list at shows by musicians I really love.  I don't sneak in digital recorders or take pics on my cell phone, either.  I like to just listen, and let the evening wash over me.  And indeed, my choice to do so was rewarded last night.  Still, it was nice being in the presence of other folks who express their pleasure at being present in other ways, though--a homecoming of sorts. 

Robyn played two of my favorite songs: "Mr. Kennedy" and "Only The Stones Remain"  "Ole Tarantula" worked fine unplugged.   His intro to "Victorian Squid" was another example of the man's ability to prop open the door to his subconscious pretty much at will--and it's a great song, too.

I liked hearing "Adventure Rocketship," a bunch also.  OK, I'll admit it: I was one of the folks who ponyed up to Yep Roc and put it as the ringtone on my cell.  (And here I am bragging about being too cool to make set lists!)  Honestly, though, the only reason I downloaded it was because I never figured out how to get the clip I grabbed of the opening guitar work from  Element of Light's "Airscape"onto my phone instead.  But let me be clear: I really like "Adventure Rocketship."  I read somewhere that "The Yip Yip Song" is the theme to a childrens' TV show in the UK.  "Adventure Rocketship" is the show I'd have really wanted to see as a little girl.

The crucifixion of Jesus seemed to be much on Robyn's mind last night.  He mentioned it several times in  his song intros, finally comparing it to the little toy penguin he had stood on the miniature green road cone beside him onstage.  I don't know anyone else who could a) get away with that or b) get a laugh from doing so.   

Hitchcock also mentioned Storefront Hitchcock , the Jonathan Demme concert flick of about ten years back, and got a round of applause for it.  Demme was sitting at the table next to me, with his family; one of Demme's younger kids got the final benediction of the show from Robyn:"have a great time at camp." I liked that.  Who gets a send-off from Robyn Hitchcock for summer camp??  Wonderful--kind of like getting to hear Robyn in a tiny room with the sun going down unnoticed on the Hudson River across the street.  

After the show, I gave Robyn a RandoRadio T-shirt and suggested he put off doing his laundry for another day.  Told him we play plenty of his music.  I was too flummoxed to do my usual handshake and "Chris Potter from RandoRadio" routine; I'll admit it.  I mean heck--it was Robyn Hitchcock I was talking to!!  He said he could use a shirt as he'd lost a bag on the tour.   I'd be honored if our own Adventure Rocketship T helped fill in the gap.

He's playing again tonight, Wednesday  the 16th of July.   OK, so I'm a true believer.  But if you can, GO.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Juliet, My Fairy Goddaughter

My pal Nancy calls me the Fairy Godmother of her two daughters Juliet and Alyssum.  Alyssum's off in Italy this summer, almost all grown-up (junior year in high school come September!) but Jules is just going into 9th grade.  Which means I get to have her around for a while longer, and that's a good thing.

The daughter of two artists (a painter and a glass artist), Jules has also always loved music with a passion.  That and Japanese graphic arts of all descriptions.  Did I tell you she also gets more in the way of royalties for a poem she wrote back in grade school than I have ever gotten for a single poem in my whole life?  She does.  It got picked up as a reading comp question in one of those dreaded standardized tests; it originally ran in Stone Soup.  The kid's got talent.

And so she's taping a show with me today which will run in August in place of a Cocktails with Chris.  There have been noises made about Japanese rap.  I intend to play some of my usual tunes if I can get away with it.  Will Jules be into playing some of Lou's amazing Warner Brothers loss leaders?  The Shadow knows.

So stay tuned.

I'll be live on the air at my usual time this week: Friday 5 to 7, right after My Mid-life Crisis with Glenn.   I'm going to see Robyn Hitchcock at The Turning Point tonight, so I'll have my thoughts on that concert.  

See you real soon.  Why?  Because we LIKE you.

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Husband and the Hawk

There is no Nora without Nick.  That's just a fact.  And so, before I go to the studio tomorrow to record a couple of new Roots 'n' Ruckus shows with Ed & Greg, I will let you in on a little true story from high atop the Potter building (in a swanky neighborhood near you)...

...Our swimming pool works again.  It was out of commission during various renovations last year, but it's lovely and clear and inviting this summer, and Tom Jones had just finished his show on Randoradio about an hour before all this happened.  Tom and Ken and I were bobbing in the warm water, chatting about Tom's latest Logovore project (the one about the private family words for stuff).  Overhead, the sky was heading for sunset.  The creek that runs by our house was burbling in the background and a member of the duck community that lives here was scarfing up the cracked corn we leave out for them under our apple tree.  

Suddenly, the biggest red-tailed hawk I have ever seen swooped down and attempted to make a meal of the poor duck.  Frantic quacking ensued.  It was a female duck--not the mama that had marched her ducklings through our place this spring, but one we'd seen before.  The hawk was trying to get its talons into her and she was not doing well at fighting the raptor off.  

It was an ugly situation.  No hawk can take a duck.  Hawks eat their prey in the trees.  The hawk could have horribly hurt or killed the duck, but couldn't have flown away with it.  

Ken sprang out of the pool and ran at the hawk with his hands stretched high over his head.


The hawk cast a baleful eye at him.  The duck stopped screaming.

"BLEEEAH!!!!  BLAAAAAAAAA!" shouted Ken.

The hawk dropped the duck and flew across the creek.  The duck began to quack again and flew into the creek.  She swam upstream, seemingly uninjured.  

Another crisis averted.  Ken slid back into the pool to our applause.  

I have no idea what music I will play or what drink I will mix on my Friday show to honor Ken's rescue of the innocent duck.  I'll think of something.  But I wanted to make note of my dear mate, who is not afraid of looking utterly ridiculous in order to save a critter who would have died needlessly.  

Any suggestions for an appropriate set?  

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Glorious Fourth

I've been trying to figure out why someone with my cranky old-Lefty politics loves the big American holidays as much as I do.  I mean, don't get me wrong; Christmas is great, but I'm a big Independence Day fan.  Thanksgiving usually rocks, too.

July 4th, the better part of twenty years ago, I was ending one period of my life and beginning another, speeding down the road in my car with three vintage sundresses and my Robyn Hitchcock LP's, the only things I initially rescued from a relationship that had just died that evening.  It was the only time in my life I'd ever traveled that light, but what I'd grabbed pretty much summed me up.  I've long since forgiven my poor ex, and I hope he has me--but that Independence Day was the beginning of who I am now, and everything I've done with my life since.   So I'm planning on lighting a sparkler for my country as well as myself this Friday. 

And I'm going to be on the air at Rando, from 4 to 6 Eastern, streaming live.  I'm thinking I'll read a little Twain, perhaps, and play a lot of American music of course.  It'll be good.

You know, when I started writing this blog entry, I mentioned Thanksgiving and July 4th in the same breath.  And now that I consider it, there's a reason for that.  There's something to be thankful for on July 4th for all of us in this battered, confused, and suddenly hopeful nation.  July 4th is really a holiday of gratitude, and I am grateful.  

Let's make some potato salad together on Friday, dear listener--you and me.  And some white sangria, I think.  I'll give you my recipe on the air.  It's great at a picnic, with fireworks.