Archive for November, 2008

A Musical Séance

Friday, November 21st, 2008

My musical bucket list just got one shorter:

3. Have Kristin Hersh, chief architect of Throwing Muses, the greatest alternative rock band on earth, perform Pearl in my living room.

2. Have lunch with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters to chat about his views on the 60s and socialism.

1. Play a round of miniature golf with any member of The Monkees, though preferably Peter Tork.

That’s right, we can finally check off #3:

Our home (which Kris affectionately calls Cheddarwood for a rather convoluted set of reasons) was host to one of Kristin’s Shady Circle house concerts this week. On Saturday, Nov 15,  Kristin played in front of our living room’s fireplace to about 35 folks. The audience included my writing buddy Rick (who flew in from Michigan for the occasion), friend of the family Christine, and a varied slew of people from work.

shady circle (11)Also among the audience was another special treat – Bernard Georges, bassist extraordinaire from Throwing Muses, who hung around in a non-musical way that reminded me of Tom Petty’s nonchalant appearance on the old It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. (That’s Bodhi, decked out in full cat-hunting gear, with Kristin and Bernard.) For more photos of the evening, check out my Flickr page.

Back in the 90s, I interviewed Kristin and Billy for my book How to Do Everything with MP3s and Digital Music. And then a few years later, they graciously donated a few songs from Murder, Misery, and then Goodnight to my interactive children’s book, The Wild Cookie. And perhaps most surprising, Billy can pick me out of a crowd from 100 yards. Surely, he has a photographic memory for faces. It’s uncanny.

Anyway, I doubt the evening could have gone any better. It was a treat from start to finish. Billy had told me the week before the show that Kristin wanted the show to be more like a book club than a rock show; a musical séance in which everyone hung around and chatted and music would spontaneously occur. And that’s kind of what we got. Billy, Kristin, and Bernard were predictably gracious and friendly and approachable, and everyone mixed together in a pretty natural way. When Kristin started playing, it was intimate and warm and, well, it almost felt like we were all family gathered around the hearth for some music. How cool is that?

The set list was an almost perfect mix of Appalachian folk songs and Kristin’s own material. And I got the whole thing on video. Woo hoo! Here’s the set list:

  1. Jesus Called Me
  2. Down in the Willow Garden
  3. City of the Dead
  4. One Train
  5. Banks of the Ohio
  6. Teeth
  7. Dusty Road
  8. Little House
  9. Moan
  10. If
  11. Stone in this Pond
  12. Sno Cat
  13. Lemon Tree
  14. Willie Moore
  15. The Cuckoo
  16. Tuesday Night
  17. Pearl

And Pearl was one of the real, err, gems, of the evening – at least for me. One of my favorite songs of all time, I love both the original Muses version and Kristin’s acoustic interpretation. Billy thought he had discussed a request with me to close the show, but in reality we had never talked about it. So when the last song rolled around, Billy and Kristin assumed I wanted Your Ghost. And while that would have been fine, I asked for Pearl instead. The next three minutes? Watching Kristin trying to remember the chords, with various suggestions flying in from Billy and Bernard. Now that was fun. Ahhh, thank you, Kristin. 

Oh, and the next day, a friend of mine sent me a note that Kristin twittered about us:

twit