Friday, August 31, 2007

Tragic Consequences

Last week I made fun of a coincidence: I booked two bands in one week at Mick's with "Tragedy" in their name. I'm a new-agey guy who looks for signs in everything, so I should have seen this one coming like a bolt of lightning.

I suppose tragedy is a strong word for derrr, we forgot to show up. On Saturday The New Tragedies just plain didn't come. No call, no nuthin'. It was as if I'd met them on Match.com.

I e-mailed the booking agent, and he apologized profusely. "It's all my fault, I haven't talked to them in weeks!" I can't stay mad when I'm laughing, and I couldn't stop imagining, given that explanation, how ridiculous his entire life must be. So has the band spent the last two weeks at a truckstop, still waiting to be told what to do? "Lessee—we have our instruments, we have our van...I still feel like something's missing."

When I opened Mick's I expected that Problem Number One would be Temperamental Musicians. Meltdowns over the red M&M's, that sort of thing. The opposite has been true: artists come eager and prepared, and give their professional best. Problem Number One turned out to be toilets, which I refer to as Problem Number Two.

The contract for one touring artist called for a "fresh vegetable tray." New at the job, I lovingly cut and arranged it myself, feeling a mix of rock-n-roll and Martha Stewart. I left it wrapped and chilled in the dressing room with a few bottles of Pellegrino. When the artist arrived and saw it he just stared, as if I had presented him a birthday cake on the wrong day. "Wow," he whispered in awe, "no one has ever read the contract before!"

Another Famous Artist said she couldn't relax in the Mick's basement dressing room because of all the ghosts. Maybe that qualifies her as temperamental, but she still played the show. A little early, even. Apparently ghosts speed one on one's way.

So we were unprepared for Tragic Absence. The only other no-show in four years was a band whose van had been struck by lightning. And being a guy who looks for signs in things, lightning bolts don't require a whole lot of interpretation.

As karmic balance, our other Tragedy, Nathan Singleton And His Sideshow Tragedies, gave what was easily one of the top performances ever at Mick's. Stunning musicianship, euphoric energy, pouring out all they had for the twenty or so people who were rewarded for giving them a try. Even Dwayne Dopsie, who had stopped by after played at the Joslyn earlier that evening with his band The Zydeco Hellraisers, stared slackjawed at the show. And he ain't no slouch himself. The rest of you—oy-veh! Did you not get the significance of the thunderstorm that rained out the Hellraisers show? Does it take Moses to lead you to Mick's?

Nothing else tragic to report this week. (It's still only Tuesday, though.) Last January I begged you to see Krista Detor, who is among the most wonderful writers I've ever heard. Those who went thanked me for coercing them. She's back this Friday, so prepare to have your arm twisted, and to thank me for it. Her music will convince you to go if I, and my Lightning Bolt of Death, can't.

Now you know which Tragedies to avoid, and which to seek out. Or you could just watch the weather.

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