Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Turns out you can't throw Tim off the trail with a bunch of songs he ain't heard --even if you make him play piano for some of 'em. Continuing in the swashbuckling, fancy-free spirit of our other recent "Cody & Tim" shows, I veered steeply off the beaten path with Saturday's set list for Elevated.

With Steve & Evan unavailable, Tim texted me in what might have been an exceptionally well-disguised panic, asking what instruments to bring. Playing his fear like the harmonica of which I am master, I told him to surprise me. [Insert "Mwah-ha-ha" here]. He showed up with no bass, just guitar. Touche, Krajcar, touche.

All kidding aside, one of the things that connects Tim and me musically is our multi-instrumental spirit of heady adventure --just like British school chums! Speranza once explained to a perplexed recording engineer that Flip Nasty's style was "playing four feet past the edge of our ability," and that still holds true today with The Men Your Mama Warned You About. My goal is to play the songs differently each night, and to that end, I favor bandmates who are bold and improvisatory, and I particularly value multi-instrumentalists. And Tim's no exception. While not a flashy player, he is nonetheless a great foil, taking opportune risks without completely abandoning the illusion of familiarity. He is unflappable and in on the con at every level.

So on this slow, rainy night, we wound our way through familiar songs with new twists (e.g., "Coyote" with Tim carrying on piano, "Puppy" in 6/8, building on the Leaky Joe arrangement), favorite rarities ("Love Is All The Gold" in its vaunted drop-C, "Along") and songs I don't think I've ever played live ("Rain Today," "Garbage," "Dance With Me Anyway," "Daughter of Our Enemy").

I figure I can keep playing for maybe 10, maybe 15 more years. And as I slowly set down the dream of somehow catapulting into a spectaculr rock star fantasy, and instead embrace my love of music as simply part of my balancing act of identity and spirit, it's these gigs where I became immersed in the task of performance that ultimately yield my fondest memories.

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