Dank and Pickin'
By the time
the third day rolled around, it became clear to me that this "Merry
Danksters" thing was going to be more than just a couple of days'
live music for me. Not exactly a journalist, by age and experience
if nothing else, I figured out that I am simply a lunatic, quite
possibly insane to know just what it's like to move from place
to place, and drop the germ of movement and melodic madness in
all you meet. That's why this article doesn't contain any interviews.
A quite shy, but always involved, I wanted to let it move over
me like wind. Undisturbed and unaffected, I wished only to lay
back and inhale.
I took the
day off work. Actually, I'd scheduled to take the next one off
as well. My boss told me a few weeks ago that she had a dream
that I went on one of my "vacations," and disappeared forever
without notice. I told her, "Oh no...I won't disappear. I'd let
you know first if I wasn't coming back."
On the bus
to Albany, I tried to come up with questions. In fact, I came
up with a whole bunch of queries that I wanted to flog upon the
folks involved. However, the fact that randomness (as I mentioned)
is the nature of the Dankster, made things deliciously difficult
for my already spineless self.
I had no
clue whatsoever about what was going to happen to the more practical
aspects of my existence (i.e. my body, camera and other scant
possessions) when that night's show was over. But I wasn't too
worried about it. Sitting on the steps of a Chinese food restaurant
across the street from Valentine's, about a half-hour after I'd
arrived in Albany, I quietly inhaled vegetable fried rice from
a paper container. I looked up at one point, and a jolly guy in
overalls and a flannel shirt was bopping down the street. The
guy was Didgeridoo Dave, yet another moe.show veteran on his guttural
Australian instrument. I'd met him the evening before, and it
seemed that he was along for the ride as well.
of the Albany show included the one-night only appearance of freebeerandchicken,
hopping in right in the midst of an East Coast tour. I first saw
the group of infectious, super honest hoe-downers in my college
town of Oswego, NY, where the guys were stationed for a time.
They rule...really down-to-earth, knee-slappin' good time music
is the best way I can describe it, and the dudes behind it as
well. freebeer not only added a taste of their routinely low-fi
aroma, but also got a little adventurous, and added a Dank grrrl
cello player named Al to their lineup, for a gentle, orchestral
feeling amongst the outback strumming, Seth Juhas's syrupy sax,
and Kevin [harmonica]'s invigorating harp bursts.
later jams added the third, and most recent, member of moe. in
the team, also on a night-only basis. Vinnie Amico, now full-time
moe. drummer and recent first-time father, joined the band in
November 1996, and is doing extremely well, in my opinion (and
surely a few others). I chatted briefly with the rambunctious
and unquenchably excited Amico before the show. Seeming pretty
psyched in the hometown environment (almost everyone from the
tour, as was joked upon later, hailed from somewhere around Albany,
NY), he gushed about the new top-of-the-line Yamaha kit that he'd
just procured, reminisced about old bands he'd played with, expressed
great glee about the then-impending summer-long Furthur tour.
Vinnie spoke of his wife, Debbie, who was, at that point, very
near exploding with child. I looked at him, and asked him if he
was freaking out (myself freaking at the mere thought of such
weighty commitments). Living pretty nearby, he replied, he was
close enough to jet quick if things got hairy. But for the moment,
he was used to the anxiety. He bolted off somewhere seconds later,
and I didn't see him again till he was onstage behind a couple
of the evening was mellow and quite tasty, with a great dollop
of added spice in the mighty sole-stompin' end jam soul-fest,
with Peter Prince leading the flock on tunes such as Otis Redding's
"Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," and Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It
Through the Grapevine."
highlight for me, though, came after the show. Not only did the
ever kind and industrious Topper find me a place to crash, but
walking down the steps to the street, I encountered Gibb Droll
pickin' random lines on the sidewalk, truly kickin' it hobo style.
Chuck, just off the stair on the pavement, almost visibly began
drooling, whipped out his Martin and squatted beside. Not seconds
later, the two were ripping out a street-side "Salt Creek;" no
crowd, no press, nothing hindering (nope, not me...I'm a nocturnalist,
not a journalist). It was about quarter after three in the morning,
a cool breeze blowing over the empty streets, nothing but dueling
bluegrass...lightning fingers of Gibb, and the measured elegance
of Chuck's momentary emulsions.
The Way of
the Dankster is spontaneity.
TO 4 June
6 Juane >>