Next day was off to a bit of a slow start, but by about noon Vika and I were ensconsed in the kitchen at "fru-casa," the beautiful little 200+ year old cottage that Vika and Ceecee share with room mate Jess in Alston, MA. We spent the afternoon slicing, dicing, chopping and sauteeing vegatables for "the world's most awesome borscht" and stuffed eggplant, compared favorite "food movies" (mine "Like Water for Chocolate," hers "Babette's Feast"), and generally sharing in the delight of cooking with some one else who loves feeding people. By five, the fruheads began to drift in, Cricket (Mary Krause) first, followed by Ken and Tre (friends of Vika's who I met for the first time this weekend), Jason, roB! and Lisa, and finally Zard, who had spent Saturday in Maine with Jen and family. We shared convention pictures and memories and talked about the previous night's show, and before too long had gotten ourselves organized to set out for the Sommerville Theater.
The Sommerville theater is used as a multi-plex movie theater, but the Songstreet festival was set up in one large theater that looked like it might have been built around the turn of the century (the shaky floors in the balcony certainly made me feel that way.) Appropriately enough, the ceiling had a mural of cherubs and angels singing, and the walls were trimmed in burgundy, green and gold paint. The festival started on time with a performer named Jess Klein, a lovely singer whose voice reminded me somewhat Sarah McLaughlin and whose stage presence reminded me of Natalie MacMaster. She was followed by Kevin So, whose stage presence was very engaging but I wasn't terribly captivated by his songs. The first group of artists was rounded out by Jim's Big Ego, a trio (drummer, upright bass (yes!), and guitar) with a wacky sense of humor and an ability to improvise on stage in a very fru-like manner. They were a lot of fun to listen to, and really got the audience going with a medley of songs from Lynard Skynard, the Who, Zepplin and other "monsters of rock" (insert deep booming radio announcer voice here).
Peter Mulvey started the second set and was a joy to listen to. His encore was a classy performance of "Good Night Irene" (the fruheads loved that one!), during which he let the audience sing the last chorus as he walked off stage, waving good bye. June Rich finished up the second set, and I have to say that while I enjoy their lead guitarist a great deal, I continue to find them uninspiring as a band when they aren't "unplugged." I like the women's voices when accompanied by just acoustic (a la folk festivals), but with the extra instruments they are just a solid 2/4 rock band to me, without any real distinguishing characteristics. Oh, well, opportunity to conserve energy for the fru-show.
The guys walked out on stage, Murray grinning his "Lee's Palace" grin, and Dave and Mike body slamming one another. Jian looked a little subdued at first, but the guys started with GMIA and Jian jumped right into it. They all stayed energetic throughout the show, due in no small part I'm sure to the coffee shop right next to the theater. This night's Michigan Militia made up for the one night before in spades, the Spector sounded wonderful and behaved itself all night. Because of the tight schedule for the festival there wasn't as much stage banter as the night before, but we did get an impromptu "Piss-bottle man" from Mike on the joys of long rides with few stops. The set list included Moon, Today's the Day, Saucep'n, Present Tense Tureen (with the "magic" intro from Murray with which Dave again disagreed), Fly, King of Spain/GE&H (short version) and the most beautiful version of Nuits de Reve I have ever heard. Mike's voice soared.
The stage was lit from the balcony, (where a mass of fruheads had congregated), from the back of the stage, from above the stage, and also from the sides of the stage. The lighting crew used the side lighting sporadically, but when they did the light threw huge shadows of Dave and Murray on opposite walls of the theater. The effect was especially intriguing during Boo Time, with Murray's enormous, bowler topped shadow dancing along the wall and plucking at the bass strings, evoking ghosts of jazz players past.
They guys ended the set with Love Potion, and then treated us with two encores. The first was the Drinking Song, the second a lovely off-mic version of the Gulf War song, which sadly, as Jian pointed out, is as relevant today as it was when they first penned the song.
In addition to the great shows this weekend, this was a special anniversary of sorts for Ceecee, Jason, Zard, and me, as it was at the Songstreet festival last year that we had met as a group (most of us had met each other individually in the months previous) and was one of the first large gatherings of Fruheads. Thanks to all the friends, old and new, who made this such a fun weekend. And, as always, many thanks to Fruvous for the music.
From Josh Woodward:
After my 15-hour recovery sleep, I'm ready to begin my tale of travel and rewards. I should make this known that I often drive fairly far to shows, but I hadn't hopped in the air for a flight to see Fruvous. Until this weekend.
Saturday, 3/7/98 (aka, Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Folk)
My day began promptly at 5:00. I got ready and drove to my 8:00 flight from Toledo to Cincy. Of course, being my luck, it was overbooked. Ohwell, I just caught the next flight going out at 10. Now from Cinci, I had to hop through Toronto to get to Boston. Ok. But, they screwed up my tickets in Toledo, so I missed that flight, too. Great. I catch the next flight out, and make it Toronto in one piece. My flight from TO to Boston left in under an hour. So what happens? I find out that TO airpoty royally sucks.. it's easy to get lost in, and the security is overly anal. I barely made the flight, and let me say, for the first time in my life, I was glad to be out of Toronto. Upon arriving in Boston, I check out my watch -- the wheels of the plane touched ground at 4:20 to the _second_. I knew this was to be a good day. I caught the T to Davis Square, and was fairly impressed with Boston's public transportation system. Nice 'n easy.
Ok, so I'm at the venue. There's a nice big line of people. I was picking my tickets up from Mary or Dan, but they were nowhere in sight, so I went to a little diner and got some yummy clam chowder. After that, Dan was standing inside and I had my ticket in hand (good - the show sold out). Also there was Moz, who filled me in on the Friday night show in Maine, and some of the others.
I can't remember who the first act of the show was. It was a girl and a guitar. She was good. I remember liking one of her songs a lot. She got called back for an encore. I don't know if that was necessary, but she was good. The second act, on the other hand, was great. His name was Kevin So, I believe, and he sang a short set of very nice slow songs, bluesy songs, and spoof songs. A great sense of humor, and an excellent musician (his song about the Great Wall was particularly nice). Jim's Big Ego was next. I think I was the only one in the place who didn't really get it. He didn't fit in, his music was mediocre at best (sounded to me like a bad imitation of Presidents of the USA at times), and his guitar was incessantly out of tune. Sorry for all you fans out there, just my opinion, though. A funny impression of Hamill on Trial, though. :-)
A quick intermission followed, and gave me a chance to find some more Fruheads.. I'm not going to mention everybody because I'd leave lots of people out, but you know who you are. Father O. wasn't there, though, which I found odd. Ohwell. The next act of the evening was my favorite. He was a simple folk guitarist with amazing power and command of his instrument - Peter Mulvey. Certainly one of the best musicians I've ever heard. The trip would have almost have been worth it for this half hour alone. Some really crappy band followed. I've tried to block it out of my memory (every previous band had gotten an encore except for this one).
The moment had come, and after another intermission, Fruvous came out. I don't have a setlist in front of me, so I can't rattle off what they played. But, unfortunately, it was an off-night for Fruvous in my mind (read: amazing, but not as amazing as usual). The whole vibe wasn't really there, and you could tell Fruvous felt the same way. The set was fairly standard, and the crowd didn't seem very involved (the fact that they had been watching folk acts for about 4 hours before that didn't help maybe). But, there were some highlights to say the least. Nuits de Reve!!!! Wow!!!! This was my first, but I constantly listen to it on the beautiful 12/4 tape (thanks, Chris!). Every note was beautiful, and the echoes to the balcony just made everything so perfect. The single biggest Fruvous treat I've seen. For some reason, I _really_ liked the Present Tense Tureen that night. It was very very good. They encored with Drinking Song, but thanks to the geeky guy who was MC'ing that night, the crowd asked for another encore, and got it. Off-mic Gulf War. Another treat (albeit one that wasn't planned to happen).
A quick mingle, and then I met up with Ofer and friends to dine at the ever-crowded Dolly's (which opens up daily at 11:00 pm). Moz and I went back to Ofer's and listened to the great WBRS '96 interview, then got some much-needed sleep.
From Zard Snodgrass:
An anniversary of sorts, as Chris T. has mentioned, since it was one day off a year from my first Frutrip up to Sudbury, ON, with Chris's O and T and Laurie. And last year's Songstreet Productions Winter Folk Festival was when I first met Jason and ceecee and Ofer and Caiti and ..and …and… The festival was just as good as last year's (if not better), but I missed Eddie From Ohio, which was one of the highlights of last year. I'll admit, I'm spoiled - I can see them any Tuesday- but I like sharing! Jess Klein was the first act - I really liked her sort of tough/frail folksy singing, and got her live tape, which is the only one she has, recorded live at the end of Feb. '98, so hot off the presses!!
Then came Kevin So, who was good but didn't grab me personally quite as much; then Jim's Big Ego, who I'd been hearing about from Ofer for a year or so!! He'd played me a tape of theirs, but it didn't really grab me. In person, however, I was totally captured!! (This sounds like a chase scene, with all the grabbing and capturing, but I swear it was much more mellow than that!) The upright bass did it for starters, they were really funny, and great musically!! Very good, unique (!) stuff - highly recommended, especially in person!! (I say that because I haven't had a chance to listen to my CD yet…) After an intermission came Peter Mulvey, who was a great folksingin' guy, and as Chris mentioned, it was really classy and cool at the very end, at the end of his encore, when he had the whole crowd singing "Goodnight Irene" (in our recently-practiced, Fruhead convention voices) and he let us finish it up, as he walked quietly off the stage. Then was June Rich, who have good voices and I prefer to see in a quieter folk fest setting, without the whole band. They're more original with fewer people, otherwise they're a decent background band.
As usual, I'm blanking on the whole Fruvous set… Check out Chris's and Josh's reviews!
Here is the set list for the 3/7 show in Somerville, MA: Boss Mich Tureen Sauce Moon Rush Bootyme Fly Auth River Today's (the day we fight back) Nuit King Green Potion Encore 1: Drink Encore 2: Gulf
Some other tidbits from the performance include: