Monday, September 28, 2009

Aw...Hell, Yeah!

We're still trying to digest all that went down on Friday at Midpoint Music Festival, but suffice to say that it was an amazing experience that exceeded our rock star fantasies. I'm sure I'll forget key parts, and I hope that Jonathan will get a chance to fill in the blanks.

First of all, we need to thank the organizers of this incredible event - Dan McCabe, Dan Bockrath, John Fox, Mike Breen, Brian Baker, Brian Meeker, our awesome soundman (we got lucky on that count), everybody else at Citybeat, Cincinnati Bell, the Courtyard Cafe, Cincinnati Police....the list is endless.....Thank you, thank you...!

So Jonathan and I were flying separate Friday night. He and Victoria made it a night on the town before our set. They're a darned good looking couple. Maybe he'll blog of his travels if he adds to this post.

So I was flying solo, but not for long, as, well, this is Cincinnati. I hadn't barely parked my car before I started to run into people I knew...dodging cries of "Mr. Taylor!" from former students who were trying to sneak wine at the gallery openings on Main St. as a start...

Right. Well, I wandered up Main st., figuring I'd better check out some other venues before I settled in to the Courtyard. I figured that the scene at Grammer's would be big, and, being Cincinnati, I figured that I'd hook up with people I knew there. And, of course, I was right on all counts. The Wildbirds were rocking out the front of the tent, and were a reminder of the fact that, with rare exceptions, people my size (200 lbs. and bigger) are rarely successful frontmen in rock bands. Yes, based on my observations this weekend, it would seem that most rock stars need to be about 5'9", about 140 lbs, and have lots of hair. Let me check the mirror...nope, nope, aannnnd....nope......I could bench press two of 'em, though.....maybe.... **

But Grammer's was the place to be all night, and was certainly the place to see and bee seen. Even so, I hooked up with friends who wanted to see as many venues as possible in the 45 minutes between the Wildbirds' set and the Heartless Bastards. So, we hit all of the OTR venues, and were most impressed by The Aviation Orange. Great sound, energy, and they somehow pulled off being somewhat derivative and very fresh at the same time. Nice job, folks. And here's to Cupcake!!

Finally made our way back to the Grammer's tent, and it was a mob scene for Heartless Bastards. Estimates had the crowd at over 800 people inside the tent. The line at the bar was 15-20 minutes long, but it was worth it, as you knew it was the biggest party in town, with a kick-ass band to boot. I was left with a surprising Zepplin vibe from those guys. I didn't expect that.

OK, time to make my escape back to the Courtyard Cafe.

When you're a gigging musician, what you usually want is a cool venue, with a large, enthusiastic crowd. When you're an acoustic Blues duo, often working the early shows, this isn't always the case. (Arnold's kicks ass, but it is dinner time, and coffeeshop gigs are nice but rarely stroke your aging ego.) Well, when I got to the Courtyard at 10:30, I had to wait in line to get in....and I was in one of the bands! The place was shoulder to shoulder, with the crowd completely infringing upon the band's an exciting way. With no official stage, you use the monitors as a minor barrier in this situation.

So my anxiety is building somewhat, as Chick Pimp, Coke Dealer at a Bar is laying down melodica-infused gypsy funk. Those last four words may never have been put together before. But they're loud, and groovin, and kicking ass, and all I'm thinking about is how we don't have an official rhythm section, and how different we're gonna be from these guys. What are these cool, young, counter-culture hipsters gonna think of our little act?

I shouldn't have worried. I'm sure Jonathan was in total control, of coure. He's the smart, confident one. But you see, the crowds at midpoint aren't just rock fans, or punk fans - they're music fans. If you have some talent, some passion, and bring the energy, they're gonna respond, and show you some love.

So, we totally smoked the place. Jonathan was in a killer groove all night that he couldn't shake, and I channeled my nerves into the energy of my performance. The crowd was amazing. People were being turned away at the door it was so crowded, and man, was the crowd great in their response to us. To put the night into its proper context, I give you this, my favorite image of the evening: We're in the heart of the Nobody's Fault but Mine / Shame on Me jam, and right in front of the stage was a group of mohawk-wearing punk rockers, completely groovin' with us, whooping, hollering, and leading the cheers, which stretched all the way to the back of the room.

It was a hell of a night. We want to thank those who caught our set, and I apologise in advance for who I'll forget..... Larry, Andy, and Ray from 1st UU, Dan B.,The Caterwaul Crew, Ayla's mom and friends, John Fox, Pete Delgado from WNKU, Victoria, our dancing queen, Luke and Lydia, dude from Voodoo Puppet, Sam and friend, and the 100 or so others we've never met before and showed us such a good time.

Let's do it again, shall we?

PS - if ANYONE has any pictures from the show, please let us know.

** - (update) Some people who know me well have delicately pointed out that it has been over a decade since I attempted to bench press anything near 280 lbs. Fine. I'll bench the lead singer of the Wildbirds twice and we'll call it even, ok? Sheesh....

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