HEF 2: IN WHICH the FOLKSINGER EXTOLLS the VIRTUES OF SCOTCH, SHAVES off HALF an EYEBROW and PERFORMS WITH TWO MARVELOUS MUSICIANS.
March 14, 2015: After Medford, Oregon, I-5, began to wind up over the dark and green Klamath and Calapooya Mountains. It began to rain, sometimes heavily. This actually did much to calm my nagging and scolding mind. I began to sing my song “The Fall of Jack O’Lantern,” carefully mapping out its several potholes, plotting out mental bridges from one verse to the next, to the next. And there at last, as if having climbed to a high plateau, was Eugene. Before long I was rehearsing with David Helfand and Justin Lader.
I had met David in 1999 when I was Robin Williamson’s West Coast Tour Manager. David had booked Robin to perform at Tsunami Books then and had now booked the three of us into the venerable Eugene shop for the following evening. David was a prog-rock drummer who had become a Celtic harper and composer. I mention this because he plays harp in a manner that you would not expect of a drummer. His compositions are not particularly Celtic, only his harp. Some of his pieces have the grand sweep of the Negev Desert while others are as fine as filagree. Justin is a violist with considerable classical training behind him. He is, however, very intelligent and deeply curious about all things musical. A young man still, I expect he will do something extraordinary in due course. Meanwhile: davidhelfand.com will introduce you to the fine work they are doing together now.
That evening, David, his wife Bernie and I enjoyed a very serious conversation about humor. Several fine jokes were used to illustrate various points we were making. Why, for example, did God invent Time? So everything doesn’t all happen at once. Why did God invent Space? So it doesn’t all happen to you. As Bernie is a relative of Albert Einstein, I thought this a prescient joke indeed. I also thought it might be useful in a song.
“Scotch always tastes like flaming dirt and leaves when taken in less-than-ideal company,” I announced after we had plumbed the depths of Funny sufficiently for one evening. “Would anyone like a wee dram?” I had some Red Label with me. I also knew it would go well with the Surprise Birthday Cake with which David and Bernie then presented me; it was not my birthday, however (yet). David took me up on the offer of the Scotch and I noticed again the excellence of the Johnny Walker product even in its least assuming line. I hope that David did too.
Before turning in, I decided to do the decent thing and trim protruding hairs from nostrils, earlobes etc. Instead, I managed to plow a dramatic swathe straight through my right eyebrow. So what began as a mono-brow was now three eyebrows of assorted lengths and thickness. Good going, Rock Star! Lay off the Scotch, keep your glasses on and above all, don’t raise your eyebrows.
March 15, 2015: At noon on Sunday, our hastily constructed trio headed over to KLCC-FM for an on-air micro concert and then over to Tsunami where a nice group of grey-hairs like myself was assembling.
Tsunami, I should mention, is a fine independent book store — two characteristics that are very hard to maintain these days. I noted some quite rare Lawrence Durrell chapbooks at quite reasonable prices. I played there in 2011 and, as then, the sound was quite good. David and Justin did some pieces. I joined them on some of them. They joined me on a few of my songs and then I did my set. It was a great way to start a tour.
Audience member Gabe Hart did a good quick sketch of the old man singing. She was kind enough to show it to me afterwords. Douglas Mcgowan (no grey-hair he) a New Age music anthologist and the Executive Director of Yoga Records, took some intriguing photos (shown here) by which I recall the evening. http://yogarecords.com/artists/DNL/