Monday, November 21, 2011

The Wyco Low Riders Save My Blog (Or Is That My Heart?)

It's not all Don Lipovac's fault, but he's the most obvious culprit.  After all, his name was evoked twice Saturday night, by both Johnny Hamil (speaking for Mr. Marco's V7) and Jason Beers (speaking for the Brannock Device).  The King of Polka in Wyandotte County, internationally reknowned accordianist and bandleader Don Lipovac, genuinely inspired these two sons of the Dot, and their dedications were heartfelt.  With some slight irony, in each case, the music that followed might well seem designed to scare off any Don Lipovac fans who may have wandered into the house.

But I don't think it would actually.  It might well scare off most people who think they like cutting edge, avant garde indie rock (a style which seems more rigidly codified than the most traditional folk music) because such folks aren't used to having every presumption they ever owned about music overturned with such frenzied glee.  And glee is the word for that mad delight shining off of Johnny Hamil's face as he percolates feedback off of his nearly horizontal upright bass, and glee is what I sense behind that sly smile when stoic madman Jason Beers lets such things slip, for instance during dueling basses with Hamil on an Iron Maiden cover.  Yes, that sentence makes sense.

These folks are ornery, and ornery means playful, and that's at least one thing they have in common with Mr. Lipovac.  If I remember one thing from a Don Lipovac show, it's that it's the definition of fun.  The other thing both Mr. Marco's V7 and the Brannock Device have in common with the Don Lipovac Band is extraordinary musicianship.  Marco Pascolini is in both bands, and if he's not the finest evil genius on guitar in the Twin Cities (yeah, those of us who claim the Dot can say that), he deserves the chance to fight for his title.  Not taking notes Saturday night, I can't tell you a thing Pascolini did beyond surprise me with sounds I didn't think could possibly fit with everything else going on at the same time but, in fact, seemed to be part of the glue--or the electro magnetic field--that held things together.

I mean, a universe separates Mr. Marco's Arthur C. Clarke drunk on blotter lounge music--which can turn toward some kind of manic Turkish jam whenever it feels like it--from the Gang of Four circa Entertainment meets X doing its Ornette Coleman set vibe of the Brannock Device.  But that universe has folds, you know, and to be at a show with the two together puts a listener in Warp Drive.  All of it makes sense.

It makes sense that--during the Mr. Marco's set--Jason Beers takes the stage playing saw between Kyle Dahlquist and Mike Stover (both playing theramin) for an earnest cover of "Bali Hai."  And it makes sense that 14 bass players take the stage at once, including a woman better known for her fiddle (Betse Ellis) and another known for her voice (Elaine McMilian), and do a cover of "Boris the Spider" with KC's premier rock and roll showman Cody Wyoming. It makes sense that twice as many people as are on stage are watching this nearly all bass player band, the Wyco Low Riders, at 2:00 in the morning.  And it makes sense that one of the city's finest drummers, Kent Burnham, is willing to lend this molar drilling exercise his unabashed, supple and explosive, support.

It makes sense because this collaboration of over two dozen of Kansas City's finest musicians is born out of a great deal of love and mutual respect for the music and each other.  It's also born out of both the desire to have fun and the guts to risk making a fool out of one's self in the process.  It's born out of what it means to realize what it means to Be Here Now, as the good book says, and appreciate those around you.  I can't help but think those are sentiments close to the heart of what makes truly experimental music enduring.  That which challenges us the most, may even make us cringe, also asks us to stay present and in dialogue with the moment (and hopefully those around us).

I don't know.  That's what it told me Saturday night (Sunday morning).  It told me 5 years into my blog I might try writing a blog, not use the thing as simply a warehouse for writing that has no home.  I'm so dissatisfied with the state of music writing anywhere and everywhere right now, I need to vent, I need to experiment, I need to talk back.  Why not use this space, at least for now?  And why not not worry about whether what I'm writing is ready for the world?  I need to Occupy the whirlwind of activity around me in a more aggressive and present way, for my own mental health if nothing else.  For my sense that I can do that, I thank Jason and Johnny and all the shamalama shamen and shawomen who took the stage Saturday night.  Thanks to you, I'm ready to play.


Cwyo said...

Rock Writing is alive and thriving with you dude. thats one of the best pieces Ive read in a long time. and your pieces are consistently a cut above the rest. there was a moment in the middle of that there that wouldve made ol Lester Green. you been hittin the cough syrup?

Danny Alexander said...

Thanks, Cody. I'm proud of any comparison to Bangs, whether or not I deserve it.