Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Its going to be a long two months away....

One fateful day back in the early 80s, I wandered down to my favorite record store in Champaign, a great little independent joint called The Pop Shop, run by one Steve Scariano (at the time, bass player for the B-Lovers) and Paul Rock (Beach Boys fan extraordinaire). It was the kind of great little record shop that learned who you were, what your taste was, and then would suggest things to you that they thought you might like. Yes, they did it to increase sales, of course, but you could tell they they really got off on turning people on to some new artist (or at least new to the consumer) and sharing that music. So on that day in 1981, freshly cashed McDonald's paycheck in hand (Yes, I worked my way through college flipping burgers) I walked in, and there was Paul's smiling face with an album in his hand: "Here you go. The album that will change your life." It was a hard-to-find (at the time) copy of The Soft Boys' "Underwater Moonlight" and he was not kidding. I can't tell you how much money I have since spent on the creative output of Robyn Hitchcock. I have seen him perform in every town I have ever lived in. A great set with the Egyptians in the mid-80s at Washington's 9:30 club was especially memorable. I sat through a hot sunny day of forgettable bands at summerfest (although Liquid Pink turned in a nice set at sundown) to be in the front row at the Rock stage for him (he'd just put out Queen Elivs). I stood in line, and then sat on a gross floor (I was pregnant, I couldn't stand all night) for the Soft Boys reunion at Chicago's Metro.

But I have to say, my favorite place to see him, and my favorite Robyn performances have been at ol' Shank Hall. His "guitar and a car" tour for "Moss Elixir" was a night of 12-string heaven accompanied by Tim Keegan (a nice earnest chap): and I finally met him that night and got my copy of that album Paul Rock sold me (and learned it was an Italian pressing to boot). The last time he cam through, he delighted the oldschool fans with renditions of "Only the Stones Remain" and blew me away by playing "Freeze" -- a song whose dissonance and complexity I didn't think could survive without a full band, but it worked. And I'll credit that to the room. I don't think it would have worked at the Rave, that's for sure. The acoustics and ambiance at Shank fit him. He comfortably walks through the audience, and the room is big enough to hold all his fans, but small enough to make up for the fact that he's usually alone. And that suits his style. You can hear every word he sings and says, and to a Hitchcock fan, that's crucial because he is a master wordsmith and storyteller. Even if he never played a note, I'd be happy to pay to just listen to him talk all night (and most Hitchcock fans would be perfectly content with a spoken word tour). But then he'll pick up his guitar and sing, and play (and he's fashioned himself into quite the interesting guitar player over the past quarter century) and I'm in heaven for a couple of hours. I don't know who (if anybody) he'll have with him. Last tour he had in his band, among other people, Peter Buck, but if that's what he needs to draw in the bigger cities, so be it. Plus, girls, even with his graying hair (he's aging gracefully and wonderfully) he is my all time favorite piece of rock and roll eye candy, and while its shouldn't matter to this married mother of two, that is the icing on a very rich, complex, and ultimately satisfying cake.

Anyway, Brian calls me yesterday and lets me know that I've got an alert from Ticketmaster, that Robyn tickets for 11/2/07 go on sale. I checked the calendar -- oh dear God, CONFLICT. I have tickets to Hamlet at the ballet (and that's going to be fabulous as well: Armani suits and music by Phillip Glass!) and my ballet season tickets are my dates with Stella. No fear, I call the ballet's office and as a season ticket subscriber, they're only happy to swap out my tickets for a different evening's performance. OK, ballet taken care of, email to sitter to reserve the Robyn night!!! OK, let's not risk a sellout. Here I go.

OK, that first weekend in November is shaping up quite nicely. Thursday with the Ballet, Friday with Robyn Hitchcock, and so I put out this challenge: Who's playing Saturday the 3rd to make it a perfect long weekend?

Edited to Add: my bass player, Dan "Myles" Mullen, reminds me that the last time Robyn came through town, Hitchcock played through Mullen's Fender Twin Reverb guitar amp. I don't know the circumstances, did Hitchcock's break or get stolen -- I just know that I would be most honored if Myles let me plug into that amp next time I'm at his house for rehearsal. Hell, I've played through Mark Shurilla's amp. Why not this?

2 comments:

Stephanie said...

Ah--Mr. Scariano. He turned me on to some great music as well--the Db's, Alex Chilton....

Great post, Vron.

V'ron said...

Yes. The dB's pretty much owe all their Champaign record sales to Steve and Paul. And boy, do I ever regret selling my copy of "Like Flies on Sherbert" to pay the rent.

I would drop entire paychecks in there.