Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Halloweekend a Recap (Flywheel, Basement, Florence and more)

Halloweekend was nuts.

It actually began on Friday evening. Although this adventure was not specifically Halloween oriented, it did consist of a spooky journey into the unknown. Lesa, Brian, and I trekked out of the Pioneer Valley and into the dark, black hills of western western Massachusetts. We took the winding autumn-lined roads to Becket and found there the Dream Away Lodge where Winterpills were slated to play an acoustic set.

The cold gravel parking lot crackled as we parked. When we stepped out we could smell the brisk air and a delicious combination of smoke from a fire pit and cooking from the kitchen. As we trudged through the cruel wind toward the front door, something strange caught my eye on the dark trees beyond the fire. There were hundreds of twinkling green glowing spots. I later learned that this was a projection of a laser that flickered on the brittle branches as they swayed in the breeze.

Winterpills at Dream Away LodgeInside, we were seated for dinner by a welcoming fireplace. We ate a delicious meal and hung out a bit pre-show with the 'pills. Bellies full and warmed up, we set off to the sitting room where the band was setting up. By the time Winterpills began playing, the room was packed with people on sofas, in rocking chairs, on benches, and on the floor. A dog sniffed here and there off and on in the room as the lush lush sounds of the music filled the room. The show was wonderful and the atmosphere was plush. The walls and table tops were covered with colorful things to look at, old postcards, figurines, books, and sculptures. At the close of the show, Lesa and I joined in on the chorus of "Tuxedo of Ashes" from the back of the room. We were like surround sound speakers.

On Saturday afternoon, School for the Dead played a show at Flywheel in Easthampton. This was a No Nap Happyhour production and a family friendly costume party. We were sharing the bill with Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs, who are officially a children's band. We are not officially a children's band, but our music seems to work pretty well in these situations. We played to a room of costumed young'ns and their parents. Bumble bees, Spidermen, Princesses, Monsters, and Animals ran around the room. Of course, the band was in costume too, Brian as an injured cat, Max as an animal of some kind, and me as, I don't know, something.

We saw a number of friends who we used to see out at late-night shows all the time. They were there now with their children during the day, introducing the next generation to rock.

Upon returning home, Lesa and I quickly carved up a couple of pumpkins as lasagna baked in the oven. Lesa worked more on her intricate mummy costume as I gathered all the lights and decorations and equipment for our big show that evening.

At 9:00 several cars convened at The Basement in Northampton, MA. Stepping out of each was a musician in a costume. We were ready to move in and convert the small pub into a Halloween Rock and Roll Haven but, unfortunately, it was locked and all the lights were off. We all huddled around a little in the dark and cold wind waiting until Max volunteered to run over to a neighboring venue to find out what was going on. He came back shortly with the news that a bartender would be arriving at 9:30. That meant we had twenty more minutes to wait out in the cold and then only a half hour to set up all the equipment and lights and start the show. We loaded all of our stuff out of the cars and dropped it all near the entrance and then some of us sat back in the cars to stay warm while the rest waited around in the cold.

When the staff opened up the bar we stormed in, and like an incredibly well-oiled machine we got the place all ready in under thirty minutes, lights were placed, equipment was set up and calibrated, cases were stowed, pumpkins were lit and tables and chairs moved.

Paper Piano at Basement Halloween 2010

The next three hours passed quickly in a room packed full with costumed people. Bare Bear (Dan, Naomi, and Jose, of Spouse) kicked off the show followed by Paper Piano, The Fawns, and School for the Dead.

We had secret judges scattered throughout the room and just before SFTD took the stage we awarded three prizes: Third Place (two tickets to Langhorne Slim) went to Debbie Way as Paper Doll, Second Place (two tickets to Bob Mould) went to Sarah Gagne as Roger McGuinn, and first prize (two tickets to Bew Kweller) went to Erin Good as Beeker. Congratulations!

There were actually a number of really great costumes, a few of which would have likely won had they not been disqualified for being employees of Iron Horse Entertainment or members of or relations to the bands. I feel like this was the best year for costumes yet.

At the end of the SFTD set, Jose stepped up and took the lead vocal on a creepy cover of Bela Lugosi is Dead. I handed my guitar over to Ryan Quinn mid-song and Andy Goulet and I grabbed some colored flood lights and put on a light show. Awesome night at the Basement.

The next day was Halloween proper. I set up our enormous Jack-O-Window-Lantern and we placed our carved pumpkins outside as we recovered from the exhausting day before.

At 4:00, I was once again in costume, and I headed up to Florence Center and Triangle Park where School for the Dead was playing at the beginning of the annual Rag Shag Parade. We met Bill Childs from WRSI in the leaves and set up the tent and our stuff in the incredibly biting cold wind. Bill brought a disco ball and string lights and I brought a smoke machine (which didn't work). We tuned the best we could in the bitter breeze and started playing as the park gradually filled with costumed revelers. We started playing for about fifteen people but by the time we finished, the whole park was full. I don't know how musical we sounded, the strings on my guitar were so cold that they didn't seem to want to move, Brian was fighting a cold, and the P.A. was struggling to not completely distort and sizzle out, but it seemed like we once again added an air of celebration to the celebration.

I must make a note for next year to try to have it together a little more, maybe bring a stronger P.A., bring some boom stands, a set list and maybe Tony and Ken. I hope I do read this next year, if we are invited back. It's insane to plan an outdoor show in New England on October 31, but it's so much fun and we're delighted to donate our time to help make such a cool home-town event a little more exciting.

The town turned out in full with excellent costumes and energy. Florence is a subsidiary of Northampton, but it feels real homey and like a town/family unto itself.

When we finished playing and everyone paraded away down Main Street, we quickly disassembled our stuff and sped off to our various homes. At our we rushed in, turned on the Jack-O-Window-Lantern lights and filled a bowl with candy just as the first knock came at our door.

Thanks everyone, for a great weekend.

(photo credits: Winterpills at Dream Away Lodge: Henning's Phone, SFTD at Flywheel: Rebecca Loveman Pierce, Paper Piano at Basement: Henning's Phone, SFTD setting up at Florence: Bill Childs)

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