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Mischke (far left) leads the choir in a sing-along of Bobby Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” at last week’s Mad Ripple Hootenanny. Photo by John Soshnik.
Mischke (far left) leads the choir in a sing-along of Bobby Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” at last week’s Mad Ripple Hootenanny. Photo by John Soshnik.

The Mad Ripple Hootenanny This Week: “A Song With No End”

June 8, 2015

Dear Good People,

Last Thursday after gorging on a delicious feast of a Hoot at Harriet with Tommy Mischke, James Loney, Jennifer Markey, Dan Israel, Jeff Schuller, Mayda Slice, Terry Walsh, and a cast of dozens, I found myself in the back alley taking in the final gasps of a glorious sunset over downtown Minneapolis with Miss Becky Kapell and a few others.

Mischke had drilled we the singers on the question of “Why do we sing?,” and the answers and the sight of all the faces of all those alive and friendly and happy song-struck listeners was still fresh in my mind as St. Dominic’s Trio set up to cap the night with yet another slice of magnificent bar-band magic that paid more than a little homage to the epic Rolling Stones show at TCF Bank Stadium the night before.

“This, this, this!,” cried a smart phone-wielding Miss Becky upon first seeing me post-Hoot, and then proceeded to recite that day’s Writer’s Almanac poem by Hoot spirit animal Charles Bukowski:

a song with no end

when Whitman wrote, “I sing the body electric”
I know what he
meant
I know what he
wanted:
to be completely alive every moment
in spite of the inevitable.
we can’t cheat death but we can make it
work so hard
that when it does take us
it will have known a victory just as
perfect as
ours.

Post-Hoot Minneapolis, 6/4/15, Harriet Brewing. Photo by Becky Kapell.
Post-Hoot Minneapolis, 6/4/15, Harriet Brewing. Photo by Becky Kapell.

Yes, that, that, that! Pretty much explains why we do it, why we do anything, all of us. Why do we sing? Why do we continue to go support our friends who sing? Not because “supporting” is charity work, but because we love it and because it nourishes parts of the soul that go otherwise unmulched. Also, we go get it in order to connect with the greater good, to feel part of something, to get in touch with ourselves and others and to feel alive in a way that nothing else approaches.

At the same time, I admit that all this music drives me crazy sometimes and I need to get really really really quiet – for peace of mind and mental/physical health, but also towards a more robust creative spirit. The last month has been a wild ride for live music lovers, and now summer is upon us, which means that, in these loony tuney twin towns, the live music docket is full of friends, heroes, and acquaintances rocking their chops and poring their hearts out all over the place.

In a Facebook status update recently, Dan Israel wrote briefly about something I’m surprised more people don’t give voice to – the time-tested idea that solitude, quiet, and, unfortunately, skipping your friends’ band/art opening/play/ is necessary soul food, and essential to staying fresh and hearing yourself think and your inner voice, etc. It’s also the only way to write, and a tough balance to strike, but I’ve found that I enjoy music more when my ears aren’t over-stimulated or ringing:

Keeping Quiet By Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Ahem. All that said, see ya at the Hoot! Truly, a song with no end. Looking forward to a chill round-robin this week with some truly sensitive artists, including Michael Ferrier of Fathom Lane, Jenny Kapernick of the Ericksons, and John Fenner of Strange Friends. Me, I’m excited to play three new tunes, “Gimme Judgment Day” (for the haters in general and, in particular, “the judgiest judge in the whole damn town”); “So Good” (for the lovers – of nature and love itself), and “Dad’s Driving Song” (for my kids, whom I am not tired of schlepping around quite yet). Come if you can…

Hoot bonus: This Saturday the Hoot takes to Moe’s Bar & Grill (2400 Highway 10, Mounds View) for the 2nd annual Moe’s Folk & Blues festival. We (Miss Becky, Sarah Streitz, Dan Israel, and yours truly) go on at 1 p.m., followed by Gene LaFond, Amy Grillo, Mary Cutrufello, Big George Jackson, Jeremy Johnson, Baby Grant Johnson, Dave Babb and Tony Paul, the Paul Metsa Trio, the Papa John Kolstad Trio, and Charlie Parr. Thanks to Paul Metsa for the invite, looking forward to playing outdoors on what should be a beautiful day. FREE.

Finally, a shout-out to David Tanner and Jeff Miletich, the super music fans who are but two in an army of photographers/videographers around town who document all the good underground and overground stuff. Thanks for your hard work, gentleman, it is much appreciated. And, as always, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Rebecca Marx and Mary Beth Hanson for their photos, words, website assistance, and overall wonderfulness. Thank you, ladies, for your smarts and indefatigable good energy and taste. Which reminds me:

Mad Ripple Hootenanny, 6/4/15. Photo by James Loney.
Mad Ripple Hootenanny, 6/4/15. Photo by James Loney.

Those paintings at Harriet of dead-eyed women and corporate Cosmo girls suck. Seriously, for a joint that prides itself on forward-thinking music and homegrown art, absolutely anything – or nothing – would be better. Something like this, maybe?

Love,
Jim


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