Thursday, December 18, 2008

Roadying for the dead drummer

I feel like the roadie for a dead man - for a dead drummer.

I am in the process of packing up the drum kit abandoned by Hunter Brumfield III when he killed himself to be used in yet another version of the band Three Fried Men.

I will be taking it over to Robert Goetz's house, where we have been working on the poetry score to The Sydney Highrise Variations by Les Murray. Hunter was playing with Robert and me in a previous version of the band when he snuffed himself.

Moving drums that are not being used to a rehearsal space and home recording site where they can be used is a very rational thing to do. But still, there is something odd about this. Let me try to explain.

Mike Burgett, who also played with us in the version of Three Fried Men that featured Hunter on drums, makes a living as a handyman. My wife is one of his clients. Doing some duct work in our house recently, Mike had to take apart the shrine to Hunter I had built around his abandoned drumkit and then didn't have time to put it back together before he had to meet his kid at home after school. This led to my being thoroughly haunted by Hunter - not for the first time, and I'm not the only person who has experienced similar strange things.

As consequences of this most recent haunting, I reconfigured his shrine to be more visible and I reassembled all of the drumkit he had left behind. (Parts of it had been sitting in storage in another part of the basement.) As one new touch to the refurbished shrine, I stuck the novel The Robber by Robert Walser between the drum pedal and the kick drum. I have an extra copy, it's the sort of thing I would give Hunter to read were he alive to read it, and he did have elements of a thief, or trickster, to his character. After all, he robbed himself of life and us of him.
Robert and I worked on the poetry score late one night. I left my satchel behind. When Robert was moving my satchel to return it to me, the book I was reading fell out, a new book of short stories by Robert Walser. Robert Goetz liked the looks of the book and asked me about it in the email exchange devoted to returning my satchel to me.

Based on what Goetz liked about Walser from his quick online researches, I recommended that he start with The Robber because it is the most fragmented and postmodern. Goetz said he would get a copy. I told him I always have an extra copy to hand off to the right person, I'm a Walser evangelist. He said he would take it.

So of course I grabbed the extra copy of The Robber from the Hunter shrine and took it to Robert when I went to pick up my satchel. I pointed out that in addition to the book I was handing a piece of the new shrine I had built after the old Hunter shrine had been disturbed, apparently loosing his spirit into my basement, briefly. Robert doesn't think much of my ghost stories, but he was happy to accept the book.

It occured to me later, as we decided to reform a working band for the purpose of the score, and to move Hunter's old drumkit to Robert's home to save our new drummer(s) the hassle, that we were essentially completing the move of the shrine started by delivering The Robber to Goetz's house. It was like we were roadying for Hunter - roadying for a dead man.

Without question, before Mike disturbed the shrine, there was no Three Fried Men, and Hunter's abandoned drumkit was in two piles in my basement, one as a neglected shrine, the other simply as a pile. And now we are rebuilding a band and putting his drums back into circulation.

You can call that nothing but a set of coincidences, if you like, I don't mind.

1 comment:

nosey parker said...

i'd like to think the drum set, robert walser book and shared musical history exsists in our proximity and therefore it's actually the ghost of kevin bacon.