Sunday, July 24, 2011
Sweat Was Social Glue at The Gold Plated Normal's Night at The Golden West
Despite the fourth day or so of grueling temperatures with heat indexes over 100 degrees and many other great shows happening, The Gold Plated Normal's Show at the Golden West drew an amazing crowd. I would put it at between 150 to 200 people who streamed in and out throughout, but DC park police are estimating a mere 50. It was humbling that so many fantastic musicians donated their time and brought the love.
Pictured above are Sir Nathan Bell, whose recent album "Colors" is one of my favorite releases of the last year (and has some great cello work by Kate Porter) and Michael Lambright and Justin of Madagascar. Nathan played with Liz Downing on this night as Spacecrafts and Insects and the chemistry between the two them is spellbinding - even in a sweating, buzzing beehive.
They've been working on a recording together and I plan on going on a Nyquil bender and robbing a shitload of Walmarts so I can pay for a massive 180 gram virgin vinyl pressing of it. To ride strapped beneath Jack White's portable record store mobile like DeNiro in that bad remake of Cape Fear and knocking the White Stripes albums out of youths' hands and replacing them with the sacred sounds of Nathan and Liz.
Pictured here is Tony Lambright of Madagascar, who suggested the idea of the show in the first place as a way to celebrate Normal's 21st Anniversary and to get some extra crucial mid-summer funds going to keep the three struggling air conditioners going and to pay off Max the dog's personal trainer/psychic. Since Tony has moved to Waverly and father Higgs has left his Charles Village apartment to roam the apocalyptic landscape of Third World America in his van, Tony has become my new guru.
And not only was the night a big night for Normal's, but it was most likely the last show for Madagascar for quite a well, since Michael has decided that it's time to clear out of Baltimore for the icy climes of Minnesota. He feels that his vast collection of Isaac Hayes floor length fur coats won't draw so much unwanted attention in a region that actually has underground tunnels for you to walk in to avoid death by frozen lungs.
If I achieve nothing else in my seedy life, I am at least amassing a good collection of photos I've taken of Baltimore poet Chris Toll, who has a brand new book out on Publishing Genius, cheerily raising a beer. Here he is beside Asa of Zomes and legendary Lungfish. Asa closed out the night with a fine set performing with Professor Andy Hayleck who lives a block or two from Normal's. If you are a scalper stalker who sells stolen human hair, it would be hard to beat the dark flaxen wig of Hayleck. Andy and I believe a woman named Jordan (Jordie?) were in the early format of Zomes.
Poet and curator of the WORMS reading series, Bob O'Brien, took on the burly crowd after Walker & Jay and Spacecrafts and Insects performed. He read a new version of his piece on war and responded to a rowdy voice in the crowd at one point, "Nothing you say will be as interesting as what I have to say because I've had time to revise it". Robert knows how to stand his ground with a crowd and work them into a frenzy of worship and he's also spent some serious time behind the counter at Normal's explaining to befuddled folks that no, we are not a martial arts center and we don't sell swimsuits or plastic owls for scaring away pigeons. And my favorite, back when we briefly had the two split in two spaces across the street from each other, a gentleman asked me while I was in the basement book side if I would hold his crack 8-ball behind the counter while he worked his sales pitch out on the street. And without even any enticement of a cut! Just putting neighborly guilt/pressure on me!
Here is one chunk of the crowd right after Bob's reading. I spy T-Dogg Duggan and Bob of the Junkyard band and at least three registered sex criminals.
And here is the closing act, Asa and Andy. Note that at this point it's probably pushing 2am and they've been rubbing elbows and with 100 or more sweaty friends and they look like they're sitting out on a backporch in Maine enjoying a chill breeze.
It was a great show and a great week at the store. One nice small world coincidence was that a longtime great customer, smart friendly guy turned out to have played bass on one of my top ten favorite albums, Emmylou Harris' "Pieces of the Sky"! He and I have talked many a time, mostly about music and he'd never even mentioned that he was a musician. Then he came in looking for "13" by Emmylou because she was coming to Pier Six and he wanted to get her to sign it for a friend of his who drove across country with a cassette version of it as the only music to listen to the whole journey. I mentioned how "Pieces of the Sky" warmed my soul one snowy Christmas eve when I was 15 and received it on vinyl from my brother. I laid in bed past 2am listening to it over and over on headphones watching the snow swirl.
Four or five days after I discovered my friend and customer's earlier life, I was holding three signed Emmylou albums.
The day of the Golden West show, about an hour before closing as my guts went into anxiety mode, a friendly gent walked in with a slick homemade crate full of nothing but vinyl gems, including two near mint second pressings of John Fahey. Of course, since this is Baltimore it turned out he was a good friend of good friends and a working musician to boot. A friendly conversation was had, fantastic vinyl was added to the stock and I was reminded again of why I love my job and hope the world doesn't go all white empty zen room digital.
Thanks again to everyone who played the show and came out and made the night so special.