Monday, March 28, 2011

Flashback: Postcrypt Coffeehouse, 7 October 2000

In the last post, I referenced the first time that I ever saw the late Jack Hardy play. With not too much effort actually, I was able to come up with my notes from that night. I've been wanting to write some "flashback" posts for a while, reporting on past concerts that stand out in my mind and for which a documentary record exists thanks to my decade of compulsive notetaking at concerts.

So it was Saturday night 7 October 2000 when the great Jack Hardy marked his return to the Postcrypt, thanks to Tim Robinson's initiative; Tim also had arranged for Frank Tedesso, another stalwart of the downtown Fast Folk scene, to be on the bill. My father was up from Connecticut. Postcrypt stalwart Heather Otrando was volunteering behind the bar along with Linda, a graduate student in East Asian Languages and Culture. All the performers were there by the 9:00 p.m. start of the show. (I made note of that since it was a rare thing and the more normal circumstance was me sweating it out, hoping that the next act was going to show up in time.) The audience was small.

Tim Robinson played the first 45 minute set. He opened with what I described in my notes as a "song about singing" and then played "Paris," his great song about "a New Yorker dreaming of Paris." He played "Out on the Edge" and the terrific "St. Jerome." And about halfway through the set, he said, "I saw Hardy out there earlier writing 'legendary' over his name in red pen!" which, as I pointed out in the previous post, had actually been my father.

Frank Tedesso played second. Playing to the Postcrypt home crowd, he opened with "Edgar Allan Poe Is Gettin His Shit Together & He's Looking For Work," which describes New York University knocking down Poe's house and claims that the same thing wouldn't have happened at Columbia. He told the story of a woman dumping him by saying that their energy fields were not aligned: "What could I do? Quantum physics aren't my thing. ... So I got drunk for a couple of weeks and fought with my friends, and then I wrote this song about it..." The song "You Can Learn a Lot from Birds" had a number of impressive lines in it: "You can learn a lot from the French / But not as much as you can learn from birds," and "My hearts in hock to things I can't even name" were the ones I wrote down.

Tedesso concluded his set by encouraging the audience to stick around for Jack's set, saying, "Jack is a great songwriter, but he's really generous, too. And that's hard to find in any endeavor. ... Don't get me wrong -- he's a motherf*cker, too..."

And then when I took the stage to introduce Jack, I apparently -- I have no memory of this, to tell you the truth, but the notebook says so -- introduced him as "a folk-singing motherf*cker."

I guess that got our relationship off to a good start at any rate...

He opened his set with the "Uley Mill Song," which in my notes gets erroneously named "The Tyrants of Bonaparte," but which became an instant favorite of mine. Then he played "Faded Old Rose" and another song that is likely from Bandolier, but which I have described only as "song about horse and old cowboy." I have the next song listed as "The Island," and I am at a loss to figure out what song that might have been. I noted that it had "lovely words."

"The Lady Turned Away" and "The Sword in the Stone" followed next. The latter song contains the verse
She was writing in the corner
A candle and empty chair
With freckles from 'cross the ocean
And strawberry blond hair
and I apparently thought that might refer to one of the evening's Postcrypt volunteers. Not sure if I am confessing my own smittenness to my notebook there or what...

"Singer's Lament" was followed by "Night Train to Paris" (by request); I noted my approval of the line "Take the night train to Paris / You hopelessly romantic fool." "DĂșn Do ShĂșile" was followed by "Forget-Me-Not" and then "The Zephyr."

At this point, Michael, the evening's alcohol proctor (the individual tasked by Columbia University with making sure that there was no underage drinking at the Postcrypt) announced to me that the 'Crypt was "the best kept secret on campus!"

"Memphis" and then a song that I have erroneously named "The Calling" in my notes -- "The Hunter" perhaps? (Seems more likely than "The Coyote" or "The Cauldron" as a closer.) Jack noted, "I haven't played this in a while; it should be fun."

Getting called back on stage, Jack said, "The benefit of going last is that you get to do an encore," and by request, he played "The Black Hole."

And that was my live introduction to the great Jack Hardy: a nice selection of songs old-and-new and a relaxed evening of music.

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