Archive for February, 2007

February 27, 2007


I recently ran into an old friend at a party. He’d been out of town for almost a year so when I saw him I was surprised and pleased to meet him there. These sorts of situations used to give me a lot of trouble. I’m a rather shy person and I’ve always carried myself with a detachment specifically designed to ease difficult social encounters. Constant social interaction worked fine but if I didn’t see someone for a while (for whatever reason, even the ones beyond our control) I might be more hesitant to interact with them when I saw them again. I might not even say hello if it had been a really long time. I felt uneasy about how awkward it was that it had been so long and that I’d been slack about keeping in touch, etc etc. I realize now that being friendly is something I can do pretty well, not just in a polite sense but as a way to network with people. And in Madison the network is almost always just a few steps away from someone you know (or from your own self) and now when I see someone I haven’t in a long time I feel like focusing on making the best of the fact that, yes indeed we did know each other for whatever reason and now here we are and lets take a moment to figure out what it’s all about.

The person at the party also seemed pleased to see me. This is someone who prides himself on his ability to talk to just about anyone and make a good impression. After about 3 minutes he was shifting his eyes when I was talking. After 5 minutes he was visibly uncomfortable. I was telling him about the last year of my life where lots of thing happened–and folks, I’m not a blabber and if I don’t think something would be interesting to someone I don’t tell them about it, so I was doing my best to cut to the chase in this conversation. I wasn’t giving him my 3 hour explanation of having a foster child, just the 2-3 minute overview. But this person was somewhere else, or at least really wanted to be somewhere else. I had to suppress a snort when he found his opportunity to walk away when someone else recognized him. Just as I wondered about myself and my ability to be polite–which has increased to a point where I’m genuinely interested in finding out what other people have to say–I always had my doubts about this person’s actual motivation. In the years we’ve known each other, his ability to fake interest has all but vanished while my ability to stand everyone has increased.

February 19, 2007

Afternoon Nap

It’s a hot spring day and I’m at a show, only the crowd is on the stage looking down into where the audience is supposed to be. The place looks sort of like my junior high auditorium, only the floor is flat all the way to the back and there are no seats. The band playing on the floor right in front of the stage is the Junkers, only it’s the 9-year-old Junkers. Little Kenneth is dressed in a full-on dark black cowboy outfit but is singing like 35-year-old Kenneth. Little Matthew is wearing overalls and is standing and playing the pedal steel and I’m thinking to myself, wow, that little kid is rocking the steel! The crowd is loving it and hooting and hollering as these kids kick some country ass. Then the show ends and the kids bow and then I woke up.

February 12, 2007

The Beat Goes On

We Low Czars now have a clip on YouTube. That’s the five of us (you can’t see Larry as he’s way back on the drums) rocking out the Big Star classic “Don’t Lie to Me.”

We were a bit shocked to see this clip, though I do recall seeing someone over in the corner with a camera at one point during the show. A Google search brought me to a local music blog called You Be the Mouse which also features some pictures of our Crystal performance (you might have to scroll down or click the “january” link to find us). We look a little goofy all packed onto that little stage but that’s the price for having a three-guitar band. From looking at the pictures (and the video) I realize that I’ve mostly broken myself of one of my old habits on stage: watching my hands when I play. I used to be too embarrassed on stage to look up–partly because I couldn’t play that well but mostly because there were people watching me. I looked down at the guitar as an excuse to not make any eye contact.

During my tenure last year at Mickey’s I decided it was time to end the shoegazing. I would start my show by staring out the front window at Hans’ Sewing Center. Hans’ has a security light that flicks on and off variously in the evening and if I ever felt self conscious while I played, I’d focus on the flashing light, gradually moving my eyes to the audience. I played just fine without looking at my hands and people seemed to respond positively so I kept going. I’m not a natural performer and watching myself on youtube is a bit bizarre but I feel good knowing that, after all this time on stage, I’m finally warming up to actually being there.