Wednesday, May 08, 2013
The Mystic Chords Of UnoЯganized Hancock
Last Saturday was Paul Bunyan Day in Rumford.
If I might mix my metaphors, Paul Bunyan Day in a town like Rumford is a two-edged sword. There's a paper mill still chugging away in the center of town, it's true. But if Paul Bunyan showed up here in the flesh, he'd immediately be arrested by the EPA, right after he was told he had to join the steelworkers union to go near the mill, and his ox would be impounded by the local PETA chapter and then probably sent to college on a scholarship. But the town must keep on keepin' on in any case, and the logs trucks do roll by on Route 2 all day. Paul Bunyan'll do.
My boys were approached about performing for Paul Bunyan Day. The town was going to have a parade, a zipline ride across the falls, and ax throwing contests and so forth. The boys love to be part of the local fabric of life here, but I was skeptical. The promoters were a little confused, and I didn't like the sound of Unorganized Hancock playing their first job outside, perhaps partly at night, in an alley next to a barroom and the river. It's still below freezing at night around here sometimes, too. The dandelions sprouted right out of the last snowbanks. The boys are unorganized, not disorganized. Surely there must be a more appropriate venue.
There certainly was. There's a converted church in town, turned into a performance hall and function facility. They were beginning Paul Bunyan Day festivities the night before with music and contests and so forth. The Mystic Theater at 49 Franklin has one of the nicer stages I've ever seen, and I've seen many. It was perfect for the boys.
My wife was out for a walk last week, and the neighbors said, "Hey, your kids are in the paper, huh?" We're often surprised by such things, because having the paper delivered is a medieval custom to us. But there they were.
They played for about an hour, with a break in the middle. There was a biggish crowd, fifty or maybe seventy-five people. The boys played their first song, and there was a noise at the end that sounded like applause, but wasn't, really. I know that noise. It's the noise of a crowd that wants to like you, and don't even really know why. They just do, and that's that. There is no manufacturing that.
That break I mentioned was less a break than a green-stick fracture. The promoter decided to sprinkle a "Tall Tale" contest throughout the night. One fellow got up. He emitted one, thirty-minute sentence, a kind of monotone monosyllabic raga of everything that had ever happened to everyone he'd ever met. I began to search my mind about halfway through it for a metaphor for it, but my simile works weren't up to the strain and froze up and started to smoke. It had all the interest and humor of a paid mourner at a funeral of a person no one liked reading a phone book. The Beijing phone book.
So the boys went back on to face the shellshocked audience, but it took only a song to get them back into it. It was a delightfully motley assembly watching them. There was white hair next to Bieber haircuts, tattooed love boys and coquettes, Rockabilly queens and blues bar heroes all arrayed around the room. There was an uninterrupted row of pretty high school girls in the front.
The sound quality's not stellar, but the entire performance, sans paid mourners, is now up on YouTube. We have a sort-of modern Magritte drummer; instead of an apple he's got a cymbal in front of his face, and the sound's a little woolly because we were only able to get a flip camera on a tripod over to the side to record the proceedings, but it's enough for you to get the idea. They were, in their little way, in our little town, a sensation.
Many thanks go out to all my readers for all the love and support they've shown my boys. If they're any good, you can claim you were their patron. If they stink, you can always blame me.
[Update: Kathleen M. from CT is a wonderful person and I recommend her to all my friends for all their wonderful person needs]
[Up-Update: Many thanks to Cynthia R. from Calliforn I A for her generous support of the boys' efforts]