Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Somewhere In The New Past

the irish-floridian brothers were ostensibly in town to help their cousin George pack his worldly belongings (including wife, kids, cats) for their move to Colorado.  But if you were to ask Davey’s guitar, she’d say that everything they do is for the music…Were you to pose the same question to his younger brother Terry, the enfant terrible of a sextet of Clark dudes, he’d pull you into a swirling vortex of explication, positing sound dynamics, voodoo, and marihuanical standard deviations.
After 20 hours of Ameri-roading from Tallahassee, the brothers made it to cousin John’s hacienda in the hollow here in the wilds of Pennsyltucky.  John is better known in these parts as Ratzo, Rat, The Ambassador of Boulder (AoB), but his most accurate appellation is  “The Mayor of Unsavory Characters”. It is this phalanx of philosopher-madfolk with whom we would cavort for two evenings of music, intoxicants, and confabulation.

On Thursday afternoon, Rat, el terrible, and I (Pedro) suited up for a mountain bike ride.  Terry’s more of a cross-country/road wheeler while we are of the Genus/species Houndus rockus.  But the kid rode like Pegasus, flew atop tombstones like Icarus, Christ almighty he rode like a serpentining ellipsis…And we didn’t take it easy on him, either, subjecting him to the treacherous Blood n’ Guts trail, the unrelenting Wolf Rocks loop, and the bone-jarring Wraparound.  Back at the car, we traded musical parries, the enfant preferring his southern soulers, me offering Torontonians…we toasted the good life and tried to let the other raconteur finish his story (this is a particular failing of mine)… 

on Friday, we met again, not on the trails, but on the ramp to a moving van.  The brothers, having drunk and sung their souls silly the night prior, evinced bedragglement.  They’ve been at it for hours and the truck is 62.5% full, but the packing of finery will be left to the felines.  They make a quick exit (was it something I said? halitosis? spectral castigators?) and Jorge makes a trip to the bank.  I’m left in the kitchen, alone save for my music files, and it feels like I’m moving.  Last time our family moved was august ’98, a new record for me…16 years in the same house, same town, same socio-scene…George returns. We load some of my shakily-packaged boxes & reduce storage capacity by perhaps 5.8% and wrestle with a glass top display case, an artifact from his former alliance w/Rat in the goldsmythe thing…

Later that evening Davey, el terrible, and the Rat sit atop picnic tables under the pavilion behind the Runaway (home to the unsavory lads)…Bridey & I have made the short trip up from town  – she caught a few Davey O’Clark songs the night before and has bravely opted to be on the scene, though she hasn’t been up here since her teens, when it was called Larry’s Lair and Rat and Flip used to serve her coterie of lovely lasses before their time…

The crowd swells to a dozen.  Bridey politely declines when offered pipe, then joint, then pipe.  Never a toker, she opines, “I do like the smell.” Eventually, even stoners get the hint. David O’Clark sports a smile that warms the evening air as happy musicianodos split their time between the fire circle and the pavilion. I remain devoted to the man, listening carefully to his keen choices, occasionally closing my eyes to accentuate the aural. I dutifully detail a list of songs on my phone, and offer them here for your perusal:


Song                                                               Composer

Does She Mention My Name? (i)                            Lightfoot, Gordon
Past the Point of Rescue                                 Hanly, Mick
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain                         Rose, Fred
Pancho and Lefty                                           Van Zandt, Townes
I Was Only Joking                                         Grainger, Gary & Stewart, Rod
Colorado                                                        Roberts, Rick (Flying Burrito Bros.)
Landslide                                                        Nicks, Stevie
Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)          Seals, Dan
Back Home in Derry                                      Sands, Bobby (R.I.P.)
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald                  Lightfoot, Gordon
Missing You                                                    Moore, Christy
Natives Grace                                                             Ronan
Here Comes the Sun                                     Harrison, George
Don’t Close Your Eyes                                       Whitley, Keith
Did She Mention My Name? (ii)                  Lightfoot, Gordon
Sweet Baby James                                        Taylor, James
Teach Your Children                                     Nash, Graham
When You Say Nothing at All                      Overstreet, Paul & Schlitz, Don
San Francisco Bay Blues                               Fuller, Jesse
Wayfaring Stranger                                       Trad.
Danny Boy                                                      Weatherley, Fred E.
Amazing Grace                                             Newton, John
Old Man                                                        Young, Neil Trilogy:
On the Way Home
The Needle and the Damage Done
Toby’s Holler                                          
Travelin’ Man                                                           Fuller, Jerry 

The Stevie Nicks cover is delicious, for he has found a way to match his baritone to the loveliness of the melody.  Personally, I favour the Peter Green days when Fleetwood Mac rumbled and roared, so it’s a revelation and I find new respect for the song. The Rod Stewart number has a similar appeal.  You don’t hear it very often in these days of satellite radio, Pandora, Spotify, 180 gram vinyl, and 24/7 access to all the music ever digitized…It’s a remarkable song, and O’Clarkie’s penchant for inhabiting a tune shines on, crazily…the night air is beatified, and we wake to discover was just a faerie tale… 

Saturday, I get a text message: (WE ARE AT RUNAWAY...DAVEY IS PLAYING..GIT YER ASS DOWN HERE!)

I’ve just returned from a hellacious-by-design ride with el otro amigo – Rosco…he had to miss Friday’s fun as his boy was graduating from hs…we pounded thru some rock gardens on our way up and bombed down at speeds we don’t normally attain, but ‘twas a glorious Saturnalia in June… 

I decide I can make an appearance at The Runaway, but after a couple of songs a local Grimm feller pulls a custom dulcimer resonator from a velvet sheath – and I know I can’t leave… 

the afternoon becomes a seisun – and I’m transported to Waterford, Ireland, or Galway, or any of those places where music grows in the spring…Davey trots out some from the night before, the tunes now more alive with an audience of happy hoisters, mild tobacco smoke replaces Friday’s humo… 

Vince, an acoustic bluesman, gives us “Keep on Truckin’”, as though he had made a pact with Jorma to possess the Hot Tuna mojo…Grimm man digs in on “Pancho & Lefty” and the whole bar howls, “all the federales say they coulda had him any day” and “pancho needs your prayers it’s true but say a few for lefty, too” and, for an hour, maybe 90 minutes, we’ve got heaven on earth, dark pub on a sunny day with the neighboring woods’  resplendence buoying our interdependence…but perhaps the music is the sun and we’re the flora, photosynthesizing the heat of the guitar strings and the light of the patrons’ eyes… 

Traveling south on Rt. 81 in Virginia, the irish-floridian’s car engine quits.  el terrible enfant steers it onto the nearest pull-off as semis shake the Volkswagen. Bang, bang goes something in the trunk.  The elder sibling intones, “I’ll handle this, el hermano diminutivo,” and Terradude pops the trunk. “Oh, Jaysus, she’s done it again,” moans the troubadour. The Martin has popped the lid to its case, the tuning keys releasing their strings so they’re able to slither out and pry the clasps open. “I’m gonna have to play her,” Davey announces solemnly as he re-strings her, praying for the patience of a luthier. 
He’s all played out. Played out on playin’. Played out on singin’. Played out on collaboratin’.  Played out on drinkin’.  Played out on drivin’.  But, never, never, are these two siblo-conspirators played out on music. 

The first notes remind him of a dream he had sleeping at Casa Linda on their last night in the valley.   “Hey, listen to this. I dreamt this song, chords and lyrics.”  He strums plaintively and sings;

I’m tired
tired of Tallahassee
tired of the city
wanna live up
on a mountain slope
where everyone
grows uber-dope
the fauna are fair
and the people
never despair

 up among
the conifers
and black bears
where the wind
whispers secrets
only the cognoscenti
can hear 

“You put fucking cognoscenti in a song!,” critiques Terry.  “No, I didn’t. She did,” says Davey and he points to his old friend.
They get out and find a deer trail that leads to a large boulder by a stream.  Back among the ferns and philodendron, Terra-brother starts to feel the strain of the road slip into the ether…


Davey O’Clark looks up, smiles, and begins to strum: “I’m tired…”