It’s New Year’s Eve. The Wife is driving us to Oneonta; the Daughter is already there, staying with the grandparents. I’m wading through a stack of unread newspapers for the week, plus the December 18 edition of Metroland, the Albany area’s alt news and entertainment weekly.
Columnist David Greenberger wrote this positive review about a group called Lucius. Except it REALLY wasn’t about the group, or the concert, at all. It was “a passionate suggestion that the next time someone you trust recommends anything you’ve not experienced before, you say ‘Yes.’
“This isn’t just about music, but film, literature, food, a walk in the woods, anything at all. Step into such unknown realms that are offered to you with this a sort of towering kindness and willingness.”
The Wife and I had agreed to meet the relatives at the atrium. My parents-in-law are great fans of The Dady Brothers, described as an Irish folk duo, though they are far more eclectic than that. I had seen them perform at previous First Night Oneonta celebrations.
But before we found our family, we ran into our friend Penny, who lives near Albany; in fact, she works on the same floor of the office building I work in, though I’d known her for decades. We attended her daughter’s wedding in August 2014.
She and her husband Broome were there to see The Grand Slambovians, billed here as playing “Surreal Roots Rock”. She recommended highly that we stay to hear them, as she was sure I’d like them. I HAD vaguely heard of The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, and they are the same folks, more or less. Broome had seen them in Philadelphia, PA the day before, and he and Penny were going to see the group in Northampton, MA a couple of days later.
I might have stayed anyway – the adjacent space was crowded and cacophonous – but the endorsement sealed the deal. And I DID like them. Early on, they performed Very Happy Now, which “combined with two of the song’s influences, Donovan’s ‘Epistle to Dippy’ and the Ramones’ ‘I Wanna To Be Sedated.'” As Broome and Penny knew, this tickled me.
Even more so, I appreciated the merger of the Christmas carol ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ with Van Morrison & Them’s ‘Gloria’. Broome bought me a Slambovian DVD, because he decided, as is he wont, that I needed it.
Interesting that both the Dady Brothers and the Slambovians told Pete Seeger stories. One of the Dadys wrote a song about Pete, which they sent to him. Later, they had a chance to play with him. At this show, they performed that song they wrote, plus the Pete classic This Rainbow Race.
The Slambovians gave Pete a ride from Cold Spring to his home in Beacon, at which point Pete invited them in and talked for four hours. They felt Pete knew they were faux folkies, while everyone knew Pete was the real deal. Pete, they realized, was really lonely, his wife of 70 years Toshi having died in July 2013; Pete himself died in January of 2014. The Slambovians played Suzanne, the Leonard Cohen song, in honor of Toshi and Pete.
The moral, perhaps for the year: I’ll Try Something New. Which, oddly, reminds me of a song by DIANA ROSS and THE SUPREMES with THE TEMPTATIONS.