3/30/09 North Reading @ laste minute house show!
Letters to the Moon
Dan (that really awesome guy with the guitar)
Breakfast hunger led us to the Pickle Barrel downtown; host to America’s best breakfast according to Annie. We downed coffee, spicy fries, and big veggie sandwiches while talking about our respective hometowns. The waitresses had the “What do you want hun?” attitude and some how managed to be calm in a buzzing diner full of particular old men and annoying punks who always want separate checks. I admired them all for patience. The old diner filled with our loud voices and Annie’s hyper ventilation laugh. Our full bellies had to be settled when we returned to the house so we danced to You Tube vids of R&B songs. We had picked up a last minute show in N. Reading thanks to randomly contacting Dan via the internet who runs a small CDR label. The show was unlike any other I have participated in. It was in a small halfway house kitchen. Men that lived there hung out and so did a few of Dan’s friends.
Dan kicked off the show around 5pm. He was raised in the school of folk punk. He sang and shouted idealistic youth anthems while he banged at the strings. After Dan’s set, we just passed around the guitar and took turns playing songs. Andy Gardner jumped in on it to. He jammed some new lyrics into one of his old songs to address the peanut butter oil that he had spilled all over his shirt earlier in the day. His sporadic and timely hilariousness impresses me daily.
Matt played his newest song and it grabbed hold of me. My ears had the privilege of it’s first public appearance. Its unfinished edges made it so immediate and so honest. The first line was, “The power of a made up mind…” and from there it flowed until he said, “Well that’s it. That’s all I got for that one.” A house member rummaged through the fridge during a later American War song. He grabbed an almost empty gas station soda. He sat and said, “Play every rose has its thorn.” After Matt said he didn’t how to, an awkward silence fell over the room. Then the guy looked at his Budweiser drinking buddy across the table and said, “We’re over the hill.” We all burst out in laughter.
After Lisa and I played a song, another house member said, “Were you saying you love beer?” He and another house member had clinked bottles mid song when he thought we said that. We were actually singing a song in which we say, “We can’t be like we used to be.” I can hear where he got it though. He later said, “That was a cool fuckin’ lick” after I plucked through a little solo. His accent was thick like Good Will Hunting style. He said that I seemed like the kind of guy who would be into the Lynard Skynard live 3 hr DVD that he had. I guess he had me wrong.
Thankful to Dan for the last minute help, genuine kindness, and CD trades, we drove off to Boston to stay with friends. We marveled at how our lives and the men at the houses lives led up to a show in their kitchen. It is likely that we will never see each other again. I am not even sure what the halfway house was halfway to or from. Regardless, we just had a moment in life. We had a space to play music for people who listened. We had a shared moment but a different understanding of that moment. We were on tour, they were at a table with smokes and drinks, in a transition from one place to another. We were just some weird kids hooting and hollering in their kitchen, trying out our musical chops on each other. Like any great show, the music gave me a home. A comfort. A smile. It was all me and Lisa had to make ourselves at ease. Weather it was yelling “Fuck the cops” however trite and hollow that can sound in a “punk” song, or talking with the thick accent man about Sheryl Crow, music was the link. We just acted like playing in a halfway house for 6 people was normal, a thing that we did, and so it was. A thing we did.