Friday, August 6, 2010

Mother Banjo and Vicky Emerson in Chicago

Two Thursday ago, I made the drive up to Chicago to Uncommon Ground in Wrigleyville -- wearing my St. Louis Cardinals hat as part of an unintentional data-collection effort on the friendliness of Chicagoans. I arrived with a little bit of time to spare before Mother Banjo took the stage.

MoJo played a solid set of music, bringing up Vicky Emerson to play keyboard and sing harmony vocals on a couple of songs. She even debuted a U2 cover that she has added to her repertoire: "Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World." Thinking that I would certainly be able to help her out if she missed any of the lyrics, I was surprised to discover how I actually did not know the lyrics without the familiar recording playing!

Vicky Emerson's set was terrific, as well. She opened up -- on guitar -- with her surrealistic "Wheat Fields," a dream of Midwestern crop circles that is relayed with a neat little slide on the bass string and a heavy mute on the strum. It was an appropriate opener for a woman who is originally from Elmwood, Wisconsin, the UFO Capital of Wisconsin. Vicky, sporting a stylish space-alien guitar strap, indeed was once the UFO Queen.

But these days, she lives in New York City, and a good part of her stage patter was from the perspective of a Midwesterner arrived in a land with strange new ways and norms. (I was identifying in reverse.) She described all of her New York friends being single and talked about how aggressive the dating scene was. (Vicky herself is married, and her husband was in the audience.) So what she does in order to get song material is to invite those friends over and give them some wine, and the thematic material just comes pouring out! In this vein, her song "Every Shade of Blue" contained the perfectly sung lyric, "I sit still, / I sip my wine, / And I think about you / 'Cause I got the time."

In another New York-inspired song, Vicky paid tribute to the brand of woman that can be found prowling the bars and knowing exactly what they want from young men -- that's right, cougars. It had a great chorus on it, but I unfortunately did not scribble it down. You'll have to request it!

And she told the story of being ill with morning sickness for days and driving through the Midwest. Upon seeing a brat stand, she screamed out, "Pull over now!" and got herself a hearty Midwestern brat. It set her system and soul aright and stopped the morning sickness for good. But of course, people in New York don't understand this story because they don't know what a brat is! (Oh, how recently I was one of them, my friends!)

Vicky encored -- by request -- with "The Hey Hey Song," written for her husband. A nice end to a solid show.

1 comment:

Vicky Emerson said...

Matt! I didn't realize you had such a great blog! Thanks for the kind words:)