The last I time I left y’all, I was rolling out of Texas with a banjo on my knee. The one that we couldn’t dump at the garage sale. Reminds me of a girl that I once worked with who I ran into at a party. I apologized and got her a new drink and offered to pay for her dry cleaning. I think she misunderstood because I’m still getting bills from her dry cleaner to this day. But I digress. We started talking but instead of the normal boring chit chat that I so despise (like Mia in Pulp Fiction), I learned that she was taking banjo lessons. Apparently it was something she always wanted to do and now she was doing it. It was just quirky enough to be kind of sexy. I’m weird like that. But by default, that also made her too cool to go out with me. In any case, I’m sure she looks swell in her nice dry cleaned clothes at whaatever hootenanny she’s performing at these days. Speaking of hootenannies (or is the plural hootenannae? (someone contact the English department at University of Tennessee and let me know)) I was in New Orleans last month, but didn’t have a chance to post on my latest experience; however, walking back to my hotel late one evening I heard hootenanny type sounds coming from an Irish bar named Sean Kelly's. I’m not sure what the Irish call a hootenanny, but I’m sure they have a name for it and I’m sure there’s drinking involved. But I digress. I followed the sounds and even though I’m not a fan of the generic folk musician at Irish pubs, this particular performer rocking out on a bouzoukis drew me into the place. I didn’t know what a bouzoukis was until I met her. I always thought it was a flaming Greek appetizer or some sort of military weaponry. It’s really a Greek instrument similar to a mandolin except an octave lower. So I guess imagine playing your Hooters records on 33 instead of 45. If you’re too young to catch that reference, then just pretend the batteries in your Walkman are about to die. If you’re too young to catch that reference then pretend that your iPod is really jacked up and plays stuff too slow. I suppose I would have to also explain the Hooters reference (the band, not the restaurant), but I’m not really up on my mandolin playing indie or emo bands. Again, I digress. I grabbed a seat at the bar amongst the other ten or so patrons that littered the joint on a Monday night. The blonde on stage continued to entertain us with a mix of songs and witty, yet insanely improvised stream of consciousness ramblings, sometimes stopping down in the middle of a song to share what was on her mind. I love people that just let their mouths rip with whatever pretty and twisted thoughts that might be haunting their brain, and she was capturing my heart with every whacked out word. It was like Robin Williams with a guitar, except not as obnoxious or hairy and without that annoying manic preacher voice. Within a matter of minutes, she had either sung or spoken about Rush (one of her favorite bands), a Geddy Lee strap-on nose, Michael Jackson, a leprechaun, the Iraq war, Lorena Bobbit, her neighbor’s Christmas light display, and Margaret Thatcher. Soon thereafter, she confessed her hobby of writing twisted holiday songs, and went off-mike to sing us her version of I Saw Mommy Fondling Santa’s Balls so as not to offend the refined folk stumbling through the French Quarter. Just when you might think she is merely a novelty act, she asked if anyone had a request and someone randomly asked for song number four on the middle CD she had displayed for sale. She had to look it up, but then proceeded to deliver a beautiful ballad that would have brought a lesser man than myself to tears.
Unfortunately I had some work to finish before a meeting the next day, so I couldn’t stay out all night, follow her home and ask if she could keep me. Besides, I was wearing my tags and she surely would have returned me to Mrs. F’er (don’t expect a cash reward, perhaps just a dirty look). I felt bad for leaving so soon, but mostly because I didn’t want her to think that I thought she sucked or something. I’m weird like that, too. So I made sure to write a glowing, detailed review of her performance on a cocktail napkin and leave it on the windshield of her car. I wasn’t really sure which car was hers, so I just made my best guess (a 1999 Toyota Rav4) and made my way back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel (highly recommend Chateau Sonesta – old school all around with great A/C, awesome beds, big rooms and a statue of Ignatius J. Reilly (they should consider putting Big Chief tablets in all the rooms)), instead of getting to the work at hand I surfed the cable system for CNN Headline News so that I would know where to find the lovely Robin Meade in the morning, built a house of soap out of a bunch of little soaps borrowed from a housekeeper’s cart, had an imaginary business meeting with Crystal Bernard to discuss her next Lifetime project, played some air mandolin while thinking about how cool the Lovehammers would be with me on mandolin, and then did some research on Beth Patterson. She calls herself the “patron saint of least favorite children” on her myspace page. A reviewer on her record company page describes her stage presence as "a cross between a cobra and a puppy" and "innocent savagery." And how can you not dig a chick who doesn’t take herself too seriously and poses in her own t-shirts on her merchandise page? Here’s a sample.
Now to put it all in perspective, I haven’t bought any of her CD’s or t-shirts (although I’ve been watching her rock out here). But consider this a public service announcement on behalf of your local music scene before we delve into another season of Rock Star. There are plenty of rockers out there with a ton of talent that will never make it – not because they’re not good enough (actually, that’s exactly why), but because they weren’t in the right place at the right time (like married to Britney Spears) or don’t appeal to the mass market (sometimes that’s a good thing). You can take advantage of that by taking a chance and dropping into a bar to watch the next Marty Casey without having to worry about elitist bitches buying all the tickets and kicking your ass if you stand in front of them at the next show. Now go on and git and let me know how it works out for you.