Earlier today, when I went to Pandemonium Book and Coffee shop (from this post), I saw a sign advertising an “Acoustic Folk Band” that was to play this evening. Seeing as how I’ve been driving all the way into Anchorage to see live music played at the Tap Root Cafe, this was quite an exciting prospect.
I arrived at the coffee shop a bit ago– at 8:00– with my newest read, “Downtown Owl” by Chuck Klosterman, who is perhaps my favorite Midwestern author– only after my former comedy writing professor, Garrison Keillor.
As the band of 16-17 something year olds set up their Yamaha keyboards and plastic-necked acoustic guitars, I cracked open my book. I had heard great things about this novel, which is about a fictional small North Dakota town called “Owl”. I’ve been particularly curious to read Klosterman’s attempt at fictional prose– after all, I have read much of his cultural criticism work as a student of communication studies and rhetoric.
I took a sip of my coffee– which, as it turned out was still too steamy; the tip of my tongue is furious with me right now– and got familiar with the characters seated at the small tables around me. Much like any other Pandemonium experience I’ve had, there were a number of people varying in age from mid-teen up to 60s, I’d say.
Every person has that somewhat intellectual look to them– these are the folks who I imagine are curious and full of questions. They’re kind of like a silent pack of bearded, scarf-wearing owls wearing tweed. I wonder where they hide out when they’re not quietly sipping coffee with a book. I’d like to find that place and exchange vocal pleasantries with them; the most conversation I engage in with these coffee shop regulars is through brief eye contact and while navigating around each other on the way to refill our mugs or release coffee from our systems.
Anyhow, 7 pages into what is already turning out to be a great read, the “band” of 5 guys started playing. Now, given my experience growing up around music and musicians, my understanding of how bands work is that they all rehearse and perform together.
This is not the case tonight.
Indeed, this “band” essentially took turns playing solos or duets for each other. And when I say they were playing for each other, I mean exactly that– apparently this kind of thing is commonplace at Pandemonium. As the “band” started their rotation of memorized songs (so far, an interesting rendition of Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” and Adam Sandler’s “Back to School” song from Billy Madison) the bearded tweed pack all yanked iPods and earbuds out of their messenger bags. I imagine they’re listening to Radiohead. The girl next to me looks like the Owl City type, though.
That was the point when I closed the book and took out my pen and paper. A moment ago, I was starting to associate the characteristics of Julia (so far my favorite character from Owl, ND) confused with emotional associations I make when I hear Pachelbel’s Canon.
Not even joking. This “folk band” keyboardist is playing the wedding song from an electric keyboard. The icing on the cake? The keyboard was set to Honky Tonk!!
This is absolutely fantastic.
To be honest, this experience reminds me of hanging out at “Club Underground” in St. Louis Park throughout Jr. High and early High School, when various bands I played in or knew would go to play original tunes written in our basements or cover bands like Live, Phish, and the Beatles.
Side note: a guitar player from the “folk band” is currently wandering through his version of “Isis” by the Goo Goo Dolls.
Now, a few of the folks I played with at the Underground have actually gone on to make it as musicians and artists. Matt Sandstedt (Aneuretical & I, Colossus), Nik Kosmas (AIDS-3D collective out of NY), Jonathan Dessi-Olive (electric guitar player for Will Hutchinson‘s band), just to name a few… we all supported each other at a young age.
I’m sure the guy who ran The Underground (we called him “Rev”… we never knew his actual name) thought we sounded like absolute trash, but he appreciated us bringing in young business to buy Italian Sodas and talk to us about why it’s important to never start using drugs like he did when he was our age. You could tell he had done some serious partying in his day.
I wonder if this Honky Tonk Pachelbel “folk group” will one day be on the forefront of the Wasilla indie rock scene up here. I sure hope they get on it quick, because driving to the Tap Root Cafe takes 45 minutes, and I’m impatient when it comes to seeing live music. AMERICA!
Stay safe, and be good to each other.
Also, I promise to get video/audio up from the Christmas program and my sermon on Jan. 3rd up soon. I have no excuse for not having it up already.