At 1:45am this morning, I was in a 7-11 just outside of Annapolis (if you're reading this aloud, please slur the city name for the correct pronounciation...similar to the way Buffalonians say that Fruvous comes from "Trono"), and the clerk was foolish enough to ask why Traci and I were so happy. I think the poor man got the most enthusiastic plug for Fruvous that I've ever delivered, because the glow of last night's Ramshead show will last a long, long time.
It didn't start out to good though. Traci was supposed to meet me at 3:30pm. Around 4pm, she calls and says something has gone terribly wrong with her car and she won't be able to get to me. And with the time constraints and traffic, I wouldn't be able to get to *HER*. I was crushed, but carried on to Annapolis.
I arrived there without mishap, quickly finding the venue and a 24-hour parking garage. I amble over to the Ramshead and immediately spot Cal outside. After ascentaining that everyone really *WAS* okay from the car accident, we ambled inside and waited for the girls to open the doors to the main stage area.
While waiting, I met up with Chris and Zard who quickly introduced me to Paul and then Melsie. It was already beginning to feel like a family reunion by the time Dan Carps and Jessica Baskin showed up. Soon to follow was the whole Deleware crowd, Jen and Jo, Wendy and in a surprise appearace TRACI! who had borrowed her mom's car and made it in plenty of time for the show. I actually squealed "OH MY GOD!" I've never done that before in my life, but I just felt SO terrible about her missing the show! Yay! I probably missed some people, but it was a late night and I'm tired. SORRY!
My table quickly arrived after that...Matt, Nicola and Andrea. Really, really great people. Thanks for sharing Stage Dave with me and, Andrea, thanks for taking care of the bill so quietly and efficiently.
Philly band Grey-Eye Glances started off the evening with a gorgeous sound that was somewhat distorted by some sort of speaker problem, causing a cracking after many of the lead female singer's vocals. I'd be zoning into her voice when suddenly the fuzz would have me cringing. But surprisingly, they still put on an amazing show. Great performers.
Finally, time for the band. The announcer thanks us for our patience and says a local group will be warming us up. The applause was rather tepid, and the entire audience was going "who? Could it be Davinci's Notebook?" NO! It's Mike Ford, chastising us for our lukewarm response to local talent. After going on and on about Mulroney, he sang a fabulous song. He said it was an old one, but I'm not quite sure of the title..."Everything will be okay" maybe? NEXT!Murray Foster...I mean Billy Bob McBride. Someone call Central Casting...with the fishing hat, the occasional twang and the permenant scowl, he had dim-witted, angry hick down to a T. His was a song about love and loss..."The Hunt for the Dangerous Pork Tenderloin." I was literally CRYING with laughter. Question: what did Fruvous do with the Murray who wrote depressed songs, full of melancholy? Just curious. ;-) Jian is up next and begins by speaking in a stereotyped Middle Eastern accent, only to growl at us for our racist laughter. *grin* He pointed out that he was the ultimate paradox: a Canadian of Iranian heritage...benevolent, inferior friend or dangerous bitter foe. Finally, he began "Follow the Road." Nice, really, really nice. Murray started a bad trend because I was blinking back tears for this gorgeous piece. Finally Dave. Instead of the new Dave song, I'd heard so much about, we got 2 "legit standards" - a "biology," instead of trilogy. Dave is *SUCH* a crooner...the first was something like "I Fall In Love Too Soon," followed up by "The Moon is a Silver Dollar." Very Cool.
Now, it's show time. And it's "Wood" revisited. It's my favorite album, and I was ready to curl up for the night, as we moved from Down from Above into Horseshoes into Fly. Great version of Fly. A lot of times, my appreciation of Fly is often marred by Mike's vocal mic being turned down too low...I adore the little "Let Go" part that sort of hangs at the end (about 4:10 into Fly on Live Noise). But tonight was perfect. The whole song gave me chills. Bango time. Continuing the "Wood" theme, we get Present Tense Tureen which blends in Johnny Saucepan. Because the Ramshead is a "listening room - no talking or dancing," the boys did most of this sans banter ;-) (This policy wasn't really enforced, but occasionally produced problems for call and response bits because we were being quiet.) I Love My Boss. They decide to do this off-mic. People are into right away, clapping along, to the point where you can't actually hear the song and Jian has to shout out between verses..."STOP CLAPPING!" But a great, high-energy version. A little banter, bashing Paula Cole and then it's The King of Spain...wearing that fishing hat again. Okay...into Boo Time. Again prop-free. Jian seemed to be searching rather anxiously for his hat, so I'm not sure this was planned. Boo Time into MISSTRA KNOW-IT-ALL. Quite possibly the best version I've EVER heard. The energy and the sound was simply perfect and Murray...ah Murray...finally "something STOMPIN' on the bass!" Great, great, great bass solo. Wow! And speaking of Mur, it was time for Pisco Bandito. As always a fun tune, and as always (at this point *wink*), Murray screwed up a line. In an interesting stage setup, Jian was pretty much abandoned "Stage Dave" right where my table was, so I was able to enjoy his antics without any real distraction. Ji, you could TOTALLY convince me that you spend your days off, singing backup for Calypso bands. He has the perfect look, the perfect expressions. I'd love to see him play mandolin...not because I think that sound is needed, but because mandolin players always look a little lost, like they aren't sure what to do while playing...Jian could teach a class ;-) Onto the Kids Song and then I Will Hold On. *sigh* So beautiful. If possible, I think I grow to like it more everytime I hear it. It's like a drug. Banter at this point. A little Mike "tribute" to Springstein...not quite sure why. The song he comes up with is "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." LOL! This went on for a bit until BJ, Don't Cry took over. No slow version tonight and up-tempo, fun tune. The a capella message was gorgeous as always. Dave added this little counter-rhythm of snaps between his hand claps that was really pretty interesting. After Message, we got an *EXTENDED* dialogue about Eight is Enough, the songs in it, child actors, Dick Van Patten. Hilarious. Onto Michigan Militia and Organ Grinder - yay! Fruvous continued to rock on through Get in the Car, Psycho Killer and My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors. They ended the first encore with the Dancing Queen medley which proved fun as always. SOMEDAY I'm gonna make a tape of this and get it to a friendly DJ at Shampoo...a club in Philly. Friday night there is Shaft Night and "Dancing Queen" is naturally a popular number with all the fun-loving gay men who patronize the establishment. I think the Fruvous medley would go over rather well :-) 2nd encore...I really expected Drinking Song and was a little perplexed about how we were going to link arms with the tables in the way. But No Drinking Song. Something new, dedicated to Cal and Tobey (yay guys!) and the folks back in Toronto. On Dave's setlist, it was called "Darling Released." Ummm...how to describe it...WOW! 4 part harmony. Great intrument sound. Wow. My jaw was on the floor for the whole song. Amazing. It seemed a bit familiar, like it might have been a cover. Dunno. But this one has radio hit written all over it. Great, great song.
All in all, an amazing night. Well worth the drive from and back to Philadelphia. And that was a pretty late drive back because I didn't want to leave...didn't want the night to end. I didn't even want to talk about the show...didn't want to over-analyze how perfect it was. I just wanted to hug everyone there and bask in the happy glow. Thanks to everyone who made it a special evening and thanks to Fruvous for a fabulously well-played show.
Anyone get a tape? I would *KILL* for one.
*Fruhugs to All* See ya in Connecticut!
Mary, who apologizes for all grammer/spelling errors. I got home at 4:30am.
From Chris Traugott:
Fruvous' first experience in Annapolis was a very positive one, at least as far as the audience was concerned. Zard and I pulled into the Rams Head Tavern around 7:30, just in time to catch the tail end of the Gray Eye Glances sound check. The lobby was full of folks, including a few fruheads, so Zard and I had a chance to catch up with Mary, Melzie, Paul (of DVN fame), Jessica, Dan Carps, and Andrew Bray and his friend Laura before the doors even opened. Once inside, we found that Zard had called early enough to get assigned seats close to the stage, stage Murray. Very stage Murray; I felt like we were practically sitting on his mic stand, and felt a little foolish when I succumbed to taking notes. My brain is so fried from the frenetic job search and the task of doing a two-person job in my current situation that I knew I would be hopeless with set lists without a little cheat sheet. As it turned out I needn't have bothered, Zard snagged a set list at the end of the show, but anyway….. I did feel sort of stupid sitting there with my little pen and paper, but I know my limits, and I definitely reached them this week!
Gray Eye Glances opened around 8:30, and I enjoyed their set. They soldiered through some significant sound problems, but the set over all was solid. I wouldn't have chosen them as an opener for Fruvous if I were the "god of booking," the music styles are dissimilar enough that after the GEG set I felt quite relaxed and mellow, but not "up" the way I usually feel before a Fruvous show. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to seeing them again tonight, I enjoy listening to the lead singer.
After a quick set change, the announcer said that Fruvous would be on stage shortly, but that there were some local friends of theirs at the venue and that Fruvous wanted to invite them up on stage. For a brief moment, Zard and I thought we might have missed seeing the other ¾ of DVN and that they were going to sing with Fruvous, but then Mike Ford walked out grinning his "good show" grin and Zard fairly wriggled in anticipation of the "four solos" opener.
Mike started off by saying he had just read an article about Brian Mulroney, a name he hadn't heard in a long time, and began to reminisce about Mulroney's days in office and the "subsidiary mentality" he (Mulroney) had towards life. Mike talked about the Shamrock Summit, when Reagan met with Mulroney to discuss North American affairs, and Mike claimed that Reagan actually asked Mulroney, off the record, "how much for Canada?" Mike then launched into "Rally Around the Maypole."
Next up was Murray, or Billy Bob McBride, as he introduced himself. He walked slowly out on stage, pausing every few steps to look around him uncertainly, big blue eyes peering out from under a floppy straw hat. When he finally got to the center of stage, he picked up the guitar, bashfully introduced himself, and began singing "The Hunt for the Dangerous Pork Tenderloin." A country ballad about a murderous pork tenderloin running rampant around the countryside, sung in the finest Hank Williams/Roy Rogers tradition, complete with nasal intonations and high pitched cracks of the voice. I'm not sure what rarified air the Murman has been breathing recently, but I must say that "Pork Tenderloin" and "Pisco Bandito" are wonderful showcases for the wacky side of his sense of humor, and I like it.
Jian took the stage next, and in a thick Middle Eastern accent introduced himself as Hamid and said how happy he was to be playing in "Hannapolis." Of course the audience laughed, and Jian derided them for laughing at the guy with the accent. He then described himself as a Canadian citizen of Iranian descent, or "the ultimate paradox for an American audience. Is he the friendly, but inferior neighbor to the North, or the evil, bitter foe bent on the destruction of the western world." He then said that he really identified more with the Canadian citizen part, so he guessed he was the inferior friend with a few bitter feelings. Jian sang Follow the Road.
Out came Dave, rubbing his scalp and grinning a little as he introduced his song about "male patterned romance." He said he was working on a trilogy, but had only finished two so it was more of "a biology." With the look on his face and that intro it was hard to tell if we were supposed to take the song seriously or not, but as Zard said "It is always best to not take them seriously." Dave sang two songs, titled (I think) "I Fall in Love" and "The Moon is a Silver Dollar" (or 60 cents Canadian - Dave's aside). I had never heard either song before, but they had a '40's "Frank Sinatra" quality to them, and of course, sounded beautiful.
A few moments of empty stage, then the whole fru-four came on and began with Down From Above. I was very happy to hear that one, as the last time I think I heard it live was in Clinton, May 97. Next came Horseshoes, Fly, Present Tense Tureen and Johnny Saucep'n, all with a minimal amount of banter. Murray commented, as Dave was "tuning" the banjo, that they were trying really hard not to say anything, but it was really hard as they had so much to say. Zard and I got a chuckle out of that one.
When they finished Saucep'n, they stepped away from their mics and all stood in the corner right of the stage in front of our table. Did I mention earlier that I felt like we were too close? We were definitely too close at this point. Jian and Mike began to make fun of the layout of the venue (very long and rectangular with seating far off to the left of the stage.) Mike asked if the audience there had to pay full price. Jian then began the intro for Boss and Mike leapt off the stage, grabbed someone's spoon and started tapping on a water glass. The audience started to cheer, and Mike said "You hear that, that means Dave and Murray have to kiss now." The audience yelled louder and Mike said "Oooo, they *liked* that idea!" Then they started Boss and Jian began dancing through the audience over to the "bad seats," the three others in tow behind him. The did the whole song off mic, Jian shimmying in front of various audience members and jumping up and down from chairs. The audience loved it.
Next came King of Spain, with Dave in Billy Bob McBride's floppy straw hat for a crown, then Boo Time without hats of any kind.
Then Mistra Know It All. I love this song, especially Murray's bass solo (duh!). The whole bass line this time seemed souped up a bit, and the solo was the sweetest I've ever heard Murray play, topped off with a really slick slide. Chad M., I wish you'd been there! Breathtaking!
Mike took the bongos, and as he was dancing around joked about Deus Ex Machina, hummed part of a Police ditty, then offered that the next song was "A Spaniard in the Works." (those who remember the Police might get those references). More wacky Mur-humor with Pisco Bandito, which had the whole room "chair dancing" and laughing with delight. I can hardly wait to get my hands on a copy of that song, it's a perfect summer ditty. Makes me feel like drinking a Margherita.
Dave did the intro for the Kids Song this time. When asked who hadn't been included in the Spicer commission's survey, Jian offered "soccer playing Persians," Mike suggested "high mountain sweet grouse berry collectors," and Murray said, simply, "the frumpy." Mike and Murray were hysterical as the little kids, Mike dancing stiffly around like a little boy trying hard to remember the steps, and Murray making faces and yelling "you stink!" Very cute version.
Jian then talked about the article about Fruvous, in the Washington Post , and said that the Post said the live album was brilliant. "Well, they sort of said that. They implied it," said Jian. "They used 'Live Noise' and 'brilliant' in the same edition of the paper. We cut out 'brilliant' and taped it next to 'Live Noise,'" said Murray.
Next came I Will Hold On, which I like better each time I hear it. The harmonies on this one really seem to be developing and are sounding very full and layered now. After that came a little tease of Bruce Springsteen songs, courtesy of Dave, followed by BJ. They then skipped 2 songs (Laika and Half As Much, according to the set list) and sang Message.
Somehow, while trying to introduce Michigan Militia, Jian got the guys on to the subject of "8 is Enough" (70s/early 80's TV show) and talked about how he always thought Dick Van Patten and company sang the theme song. A little impromptu jam of the 8 is Enough theme song, comments about a few of the characters, including the annoying little boy called Nicholas, and fellow with the long curly hair (Tommy?) who had a band on the show. Then Murray and Jian got into a little disagreement about whether 8 is Enough was a sit-com (Murray) or a drama (Jian). This led to the "interrogatory" schtick, with Jian saying he needed a sense of the collective and one ness, Mike attempting an intervention and Murray staring at the floor shaking his head. That soon became Towels from Home, and somehow Dave managed to get them back to Michigan Militia.
Next came Organ Grinder, and oldie but goodie tht brought a big old grin to my face, followed by Get In the Car and Psycho Killer. Jian thanked everyone who had come out to see them and for sitting through a three hour show ("oh twist our arms and make us listen to you for 2 hours Jian, please!") and said it was nice to see some old faces too. Not sure how I feel about "old," perhaps "familiar?" The guys left the stage to raucous applause, then returned for a first encore of Authors and Dancing Queen medley.
The guys were all chattering a bit while Mike was posturing as Lou Reed, Murray especially was dropping little bits in here and there. Mike then did his poet of New York verse, rhyming Manhattan with something about oral sex with Dick Van Patten. Murray did a double take and said, "Okay, I'll stop talking, now" and walked away from the mic. The second encore started with a plug for Da Vinci's Notebook and another thank you to the audience. I was expecting an off mic Gulf War, but once again was in for a surprise (see Catherine - Frufoot, always a surprise! ;-) ). This was a song that sounded familiar to me, with a refrain of I Shall Be Released, but I don't know the title or the artist. Fun way to close, although not as powerful for me as Drinking Song or Gulf War Song (or anything by Elvis Costello. ;-) ).
So, another wonderful show and a great introduction to Fruvous for Annapolis
(or the other way around depending on your point of view I guess). It was
great to see so many fruheads there, (Wendy, Jen, Jenn, Jo, in addition to
everyone I met in the lobby) and to meet so many new faces, like John, Joan,
Jason, Dean. Ellen, …… I know I'm forgetting someone, forgive me I'm terrible
with names and had put away my pen and cheat sheet. Looking forward to the
Birchmere tonight, although how I'm going to keep Zard in her seat two nights
running is beyond me!
Some other tidbits from the performance include: