Saturday, January 1, 2011


The Characters:

Lionel Young, violin/guitar/vocals
Jay Forrest, drums/vocals
Kim Stone, bass
Andre Mali, trumpet
Dexter Payne, Sax/harp
Ricardo Pena, keys/guitar/vocals (not on the road trip part, is flying in and out, so he won’t make an appearance until the third act: “Memphis”)
Honey Sepeda, cook/problem-solver/distraction/den mother
Byron Cage, former drummer for Jason Ricci & New Blood
Morris and Germaine, cat

9:00 a.m., Tuesday, February 1, 2011, Memphis. Heidi and I are sitting at her kitchen table drinking coffee, answering emails, and chatting softly while the lazy men sleep. A soft rain is falling, and not so soft snores resonate throughout the house.

Built in 1922, Heidi’s house is beyond charming, cozy, and whimsical. It’s in mid-town Memphis in the Cooper-Young neighborhood. We arrived around 4:30 p.m. yesterday to a balmy 60 degrees. With the freezing cold of St. Louis behind us, we all felt weatherly blessed. After unloading, catching up with Heidi, and a quick glass of wine, Dexter, Kim, and I took off for a long walk around Cooper-Young. For my Colorado audience, I can say with full authority that this neighborhood could be dropped near downtown Boulder, and fit right in, socially, architecturally, and charmingly.

Heidi then suggested her favorite neighborhood barbecue place for dinner, Central BBQ (2249 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38104). Locally owned by a nice man named Craig, this place moves fast, serving a good and honest barbecue. Everyone’s dinner looked great, and my pork sandwich was splendid. And cheap. $4.95!

Back at the house, the guys decided it was rehearsal time. They set up in the expansive living room, and played for about three hours. Meanwhile Heidi’s roommate had come home, then Heidi’s friend, the delightful Rattlebone Jones, come by for a while, so the four of us sat at the table, talking music, drinking wine, and listening to the rehearsal, our own private concert. Not a bad first night in Memphis. And now a nice, quiet first morning. Excepting the snoring.

Morris, one of Heidi’s cats, has been attempting to assist Heidi and me in our typing efforts, unsuccessfully. I assume it’s the warmth of the laptops that is so inviting, but it’s difficult to work while a cat lounges on the keyboard. After repeated failed efforts, Morris has accepted defeat and chosen my soft Mac case on which to nap. And we’re on our second pot of coffee.

Although a nice 55 degrees, it’s going to be a rainy one, so I’m without a clue as to what our plan will be for today, but the choices are unlimited, and I’m already falling in love with Memphis, so I can’t lose. I know once the guys emerge from slumber, breakfast will be the first order [Ed. Note: Morris is back, looking for warmth].

Today’s drama: Ricardo. Ricardo was due to fly into St. Louis today, then rent a car and make the 4 1/2 hour drive to Memphis. St. Louis airport is closed, and Ricardo is in Boulder.

Ok, back to Ricardo in a minute. The guys are now up, and Lionel just told a story, at the table mind you, that might be the most disgusting, repulsive, and unbelievable thing I’ve ever heard. Swearing that it’s true, I’m still wiping tears from my eyes from laughing. Lionel provided his absolute permission to relay said story in this blog, but once again in the interest of good taste, I’ll refrain.

Back to Ricardo. He’s trying to reroute himself somehow, so we’re knee-deep in uncertainty at this time. Lionel is getting ready to call him again; hopefully we’ll get good news.

The guys all read the first blog entry, and Kim and Lionel are trying to convince me that I’m being too nice, not writing the grit. Ok, fair enough. Jay thinks I should keep it classy. I’m going with Jay on this one.

Heidi and I are back from grocery shopping, and she’s now making quiche. Once we clear the brunch dishes, I’ll have to get started on lunch and dinner, but cooking in a nice kitchen is one of life’s pleasures and a perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with myself. Much needed after the conversations I’ve had to endure from these “men.” I am quickly becoming an unwitting expert on all things scatological, once again proving my mother right: “Honey, they only grow taller.”

1:20 p.m., Heidi’s kitchen table. Brunch was wonderful, then Dexter and Jay cleaned up, and soon I’ll begin prepping for dinner. It’s still grey and rainy, and right now Dexter and Kim are in the living room playing. Just the bass and the sax, lulling the house into the mood the weather is demanding.

Jay just poked his head in the kitchen and suggested, “Let’s run the set.” So, in a couple of minutes, I’ll be serenaded by the LYB, minus one. Still no word from Ricardo.

3:40 p.m., still at Heidi’s kitchen table. Being that Heidi is a grant writer who works from home, we’re both still sitting at the table tending to our respective professional obligations. The guys just left for various errands and provisions, so it’s quiet. So beautifully, serenely, magnificently quiet. They ran their set a couple of times, and they’re sounding great. In between rehearsals, on the other hand, they’re just sounding. A lot. Lionel and Kim have me hands down in the chatterbox department, difficult though that may be to believe. Jay’s the efficient talker: when he has something to say he says it, no less, no more. And it’s usually funny. And Southern.

Andre is similar, with relevant comments typically meant to shame a couple of the others. Good natured of course. Dexter chimes in here and there, but the World Champs are inarguably Lionel and Kim. Fortunately, they are usually talking to or at each other, so one is forgiven the occasional tune-out. And even the frequent ones. And wearing earplugs or headphones at meals. Or eating in another room. Or house. Or city.

WE HAVE COMPANY!!! Byron Cage, the final drummer for Jason Ricci & New Blood, is here! And, we’re going to see Shawn Starski Friday night, so a sweet family reunion is at hand. Todd Edmunds is on the road with Otis Taylor, so a full New Blood reunion will not be at hand, but with him now living indefinitely in Boulder, I can see him pretty much at will. Which is several times weekly.

Heidi is making chili with Byron’s help. The guys are still out (Jay’s upstairs reading), so the three of us are catching up, laughing, informing, and remembering. I’m discerning just now, that in a way I’m not really on a road trip. I’m just with very familiar people in an unfamiliar setting. It’s more like going to an old friend’s housewarming party: the house is the only thing new.

6:25 p.m., yes, still at Heidi’s kitchen table. Ricardo. Yes, back to Ricardo. We have answers, but unfortunately, just as many uncertainties. Ricardo is due into St. Louis tomorrow (Wed.) at 1:45 p.m. He then has a minimum of a 4 1/2 drive to Memphis. And they’re calling for more snow in St. Louis. Lionel won’t know until early tomorrow afternoon what time they go on, so the uncertainty is whether or not they’ll have Ricardo for the first set, and if not, whether or not he can play subsequent sets. Yeah, a lot of uncertainties.

8:10 p.m., you-know-where. We just had a nice dinner together of chili, southwestern chicken wraps, and cornbread (don’t worry, we’re having soup and salad for lunch tomorrow). We refrained from talking about or even thinking about the Ricardo Situation. Because I was preparing their evening meal (and they were all really hungry), I was momentarily afforded an audience during which time I pleaded my case: “There is nothing any of us can do to alter the Ricardo Situation, so to expend emotional and intellectual energy on this is pointless. Can we please enjoy dinner without the preoccupation of a situation beyond our control?” They all agreed. Miraculously they lived up to said agreements. More or less.

Half the guys are out running errands, the other half reading and relaxing with the cats (Germaine and the aforementioned Morris). Jay is now giving Heidi a drum lesson, which is making Morris a little skittish. Since it’s not even 9:00 p.m. yet, I’m betting the guys will run the set a time or two before calling it a day. I know intellectually that professional musicians keep late hours by necessity. However, when faced with it in actuality and practice (not to mention the same house), it’s so foreign to me that I might as well be in space. I’m planning on hitting my pillow early tonight. I was in bed before last night’s rehearsal concluded, and at first I feared I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Within a few minutes I realized the music was doing the opposite. The next thing I knew, I was opening my eyes this morning thinking, “Today is day four. Five to go.”

No comments:

Post a Comment