Monday, August 3, 2009

"I Hear They Smoke the Barbecue"

I'm not sure whether it was the fact that the first weekend in August was just about the first two sunny days of the summer, but there sure was a lot of interest in barbecues. Confession: the only barbecue I actually ate all weekend was Jeff Heidmous's delicious chicken-basil bratwursts. But the barbecue events Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon sure provided a lot of musical sustenance.

First, thanks to Brian Santo and Deral Fenderson for insisting I not miss Charlie Parr as he breezed through Colorado. Charlie, a Delta blues and scruff-a-duff banjo-slide picker, played up at Swallow Hill for $20 or so, but he played in Colorado Springs, out on the patio of Front Range Barbecue, in a free show Aug. 1. He's best known for his song 1922, but he also pulled out some very obscure songs from folks like Charley Patton and Blind Willie McTell, and I especially loved the way he handled "Stagger Lee."

I talked to Charlie between sets and mentioned how Deral has worked with the Jack Rose/Pelt/Black Twig Pickers gang, and he said he was working with Pelt's Klang Industries on a vinyl-only release later this year. He's hoping Mike Gangloff will play on the recording. I picked up his "Roustabout" CD, and fell in love with the song "The B&J Ain't Nothin' but a Hole in the Ground," even if I don't know what the hell it's about.

On Sunday, Denver's finest three-minute pop band, The Hot IQs, played their last show ever as part of the Larimer Lounge's Sunday BBQ. Eli, Bryan, and Elaine were in top form for their originals, like the infamous "Duck and Cover."

The interesting thing about the final session was the first half of the set consisted of formative cover songs, including songs from Pavement, Magnetic Fields, Buddy Holly, Archers of Loaf, and David Bowie. There's even more at my YouTube library. And of course, for the encore, the entire crowd was invited on the stage to sing "Iggy Pop" a capella style.

As everyone gathered around to tell stories after the set, and I realized how much I'll miss Hot IQs, I remembered that not everyone takes the Pere Ubu route of treating barbecues as a source of frivolity. Laurie Anderson's poem "Private Property," in United States Symphony Part 2, talks about the former manufacturing areas that had been taken over by luxurious condos, and how the condos all seem to have been occupied by professional barbecuers.

"The smoke rising from their little fires made the whole neighborhood look like a giant battlefield.
And I said to myself, Hmm.
Do you want to go home? Do you want to go home now?
You ARE home."

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Ohh, that ending gave me chills. Wow. Just a slight shift in perspective, and how different a barbecue looks.