A friend of mine who wrangled zombies for me when I got up the gumption to make a movie a couple of winters ago just got back from a gig in an undisclosed town in the Mississippi Hill Country. His email account of the journey reads like a scruffy Southern Robert Walser. Some of the identities and activities have been disguised to protect the questionable.
One of my best friends, Jim Beam, is from (undisclosed Hill Country town). JB's got a bottle garden in his back yard that could be at Laumeier Sculpture Park. His scene there has artists, writers, and musicians who are mixing with some ex-pat Hurricabe Katrina vicitms who blew up to (undisclosed Hill Country town) and stayed there. Sometimes a little mainstream and uptight, as they perform and display for the old money that is funding their Arts Council, with flashes of freakiness that get the locals talking.
And the New Orleans people are learning about the Bible all the time as they settle in to small-town life. Painters, writers, glass artists, blues music, voodoo, and JESUS.
The town is pure Old South, where you can do anything you want as long as you don't make a scene and you don't mind being the talk of the town when you're not in the room.
So the local music critic asked to me to play one of the monthly music spotlights after I played a couple songs at a party last time I was there. I was about the middle of a ten-performer bill at a very nice theater. The crowd of about 150 were mostly Arts Council patrons who were there for a going-away party for the ex-director. Stodgy, old-money, see-you-at-church-tomorrow (wink).
Open mic night on a real stage, basically. Everyone before me did covers, except for the poets. So did I. I played Robyn Hitchcock, Pavement, Camper Van Beethoven ("When I Win the Lottery"). When I sang that line about painting the local Legion Hall red with five gold stars, I could hear fidgeting. I closed with my song "Becky, Queen of Carpet," which has nothing to do with the TV advertisements. I was going to play "Angela" by Nadine, but I ran out of time.
The audience voted for best spoken word, best music performance, and there is a critic's choice award. Because isn't it best to make art and entertainment a competition? That part is really weird, but I hear they did it to make sure the good musicians in town would keep showing up, instead of gigging that night.
Critic's choice: A fifteen-year-old, blue-eyed blonde done up like Jon Benet, singing "The Old Rugged Cross."
Last month's winner was a fifteen-year-old, black, All-American girl in gingham, doing "God Bless America" and "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Audience favorite music: The local chief-of-police reading one of his "sexy dream" stories, while a guitarist played "Light My Fire" by The Doors. Really hot and kinky stuff that would probably get a police chief fired in most parts. Oddly acceptable.
JB read some of his naked white trash poetry that all start with a line about being somewhere and seeing someone (usually a local dignitary or somebody's Aunt Sassie) naked, doing something they shouldn't be seen doing.
Then we went to a house party where a bunch of us played songs and got very happy and ate like kings and queens. JB passed out lyrics to an Unknown Hinson song and made everybody sing along while Miss Adelle read tarots and made matches out of unattached partiers.
(Image courtesy of HalloweenFantasy.com.) If the zombie-wrangling writer finds this and approves of my Napster'ing his road yarn, and wants to share actual identities and place names with us, that's what that there "leave a comment" pencil icon is for: for when I steal your shit.