... from the Road
May 24
Rhythm & Brews, Lake City MN
Getting There
     Lake City is only about 45 minutes from Rochester but the drive has a way of becoming longer when you drive a vehicle like mine.  Because cds are no longer an option Sherry and I had to listen to radio stations that were just barely in range.  Even              , which could quite possibly be the greatest radio station in Minnesota since the WLOL of the very early 90s, doesn't quite hold the attention when it is coming in as a sort of ambient squelch rather than any form of recognizable music.  Still, I'd take ambient squelching over most pop music any day.
The Musician's Vehicle
     Now don't get me wrong, I love my car (in the way I picture old couples loving each other because they've been together so long) but even I can't deny the fact that, after 13 years, it is falling apart at the seams.  Here are the stitches that have come loose..:
- No one likes to be uncomfortable when they drive long distances.  This never used to be a problem in my Oldsmobile Ferrari until my air-conditioner died.  Actually, I have a suspicion that it might just be out of AC fluid... so it might still work.  I just haven't had the heart to check into this because I am sure that it used to use the currently banned cooling agent Freon (R-12).
- The AC wouldn't be such a big deal if the passenger side window worked.  It hasn't moved in years.  Hey, at least it stopped working while it was all the way up.  Otherwise, car washes would be a whole different experience.

- My car radio has an antenna that automatically retracts into the car when you turn it off.  One day the antenna just refused to go down.  The little motor that moves the antenna never got the memo that things had changed and it tried in vain to get the antenns down all night long.  The only way to get the motor to stop is to take out the fuse that controls the antenna and the radio... among other things.

- Because the antenna is on the freak one has to put the fuse back in before the radio will work.  This is best done before starting the car, thus avoiding blowing the fuse and getting burnt by large sparks.
- Even though the radio takes a small operation to turn on, the tape player was still able to pipe cds through.  That is, until two weeks ago when it unexpectedly gave up the ghost.  I have never been so in touch with the sound of my own engine... "it's constant rhythm heals".
     Ah, pizza.  Is seems that no matter how small a town is they always have at least one quality pizza joint.  This place had countless pictures of sailboats along the walls, a non-smoking section scattered with ashtrays, and trivial pursuit cards on every table.  We checked the cards and our table was graced by Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Mao Tse-Tung, and Lawrence Welk.  For some reason they had us pay for our pizza right after we ordered.  We didn't have time to question this procedure because right then Sherry was instructed to take something that looked like a lottery ticket out of this cup.  Pealing back the little flaps revealed three cherries in a row.  The waitress told us that we had won $5 off the price of our pizza; for a while I was convinced that we would also get $5 of toppings off our pizza.  Is there any better harbinger of a good gig than a winning pizza lotto ticket?

The Gig
     Rhythm & Brews (despite is bar-like name) is one of the coolest coffeehouses I have ever been to.  I encourage you to check it out if you're ever in the area.  It isn't much to look at but you can tell that it has a soul that is all about music.  The pictures on the wall of various musicians sitting in the round with an encyclopedic collection of instruments reminded me of the kind of musical sharing that goes on in a true Irish pub.  R&Bs is run by Bill, a musician and lover of music himself, and has that certain coziness that is often the outcome of people caring about their workplace.  The audience was fabulous.  It is quite the feeling to finish a song and to know that people really understood what you were getting at - below the surface level of... "oh, another slow song about love gone bad".  That incidental concoction of notes, rhythm, words, dynamics, and surroundings come together to convey something which can rarely be communicated in other, more conventional, ways.

Musician's Mathematics
     4 friends at the gig = audience size over 10
     forgotten speaker stands = find something tall and sturdy
     middle of the month + tip money = groceries
     mandolin mic + mic-stand = mandolin audible
     two hours of work put into cd table displays = no cd sales

Coolest Moment
     Bill adding some smoking mandolin for a couple of tunes at the end of our second set.  It took quite some work to convince the audience that Bill had never heard these songs before.  I was wearing a smile as big as the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Drive Back Home
    We took the drive back very slowly.  Partly because it wasn't very far but also on account of the warning we had received from the nice waitress at the VFW.  She said that Memorial Day and Lake City police, "who are often our to make a name for themselves", are a bad combination.  Question: Does a cop get a promotion if they ticket more cars than the other cops?

Culinary Highlights
     $5 large pizza
     VFW Jack & Coke

The Summary
     Thank God for music lovers and for venues like this... veritable strongholds against the empire of corporate music.
our mythos is created in board rooms by people trying to sell us things...
Cities 97