ALEX MCMURRAY

Diary

02.18.2009

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We had a few much-needed weeks away for the holidays but hit the ground running. I've played just about every night since january 10 with no let up, and the calendar is full until mardi gras, pretty much. Which should be a great thing, but my promoter's muscles are a bit atrophied. The Tuesday happy hour thing with the Tom Paines is a lot of fun, but nobody comes out. Started up the Theater of the Damned again last night and no one showed up until almost 9:30, which is understandable because there was absolutely no promotion, nothing in the listings, nothing at all. I would send a mass text but I hate it when I get them and have no idea how to do it to begin with.

            But there was a funny moment about ten after eight, while Bailee, Cindy and myself were sitting at the Saturn Bar watching "Hell's Kitchen" on tv, waiting for people to show up, when in walks this woman in a long overcoat. She made her way slowly to the bar and looked at me like she knew me. I probably had met her at a show but really have no idea. She said, "so is it happening?" I guess I could have assumed that she meant was I playing or not, but the question was put with such an air of intrigue that I couldn't help but reply, "Is what happening?" "There's nothing about it anywhere", she said and she definitely had me there. (Now, the good people at the Saturn bar have been especially generous to me and my various projects, but one thing they don't deal with is putting shows in the listings. It's just not something they do. I realized this long ago and have always tried to do it myself, but it takes a little bit of foresight and diligence, two qualities sometimes in short supply.) There was an awkward pause and then Bailee asked if she could get her anything. The woman thought for a moment and said "I can't drink until he plays". I said that we were waiting for people to show up, waved my arm towards the empty barroom and mentioned that it was only ten after eight. "we're waiting for people to show up." She stayed around for another minute and then walked quietly out the door. I felt pretty bad after that and ended up going up and playing for the literally empty room for about forty minutes until a couple dudes showed up. (Something exciting is happening outside my window. Children are climbing in the trees. A couple of them are as high as the second story and they're still climbing. They're egging each other on, each one boasting that he can climb higher. "look how high i am!" one just shouted. Only one of two things could happen now--they could climb back down safely or fall the 25 or 30 feet. My heart is racing. I can hardly take the excitement!  My nose is pressed to the window like it's a knothole in the bleacher fence at an old ballpark. It's a cold winter day and little boys are playing outside in winter coats carrying sticks and shouting to one another. One of them is going up the next tree. They are going to climb all the trees! These may be the first trees to be climbed in Orleans parish since the seventies. There is no getting around the fact that it's the danger that is so exciting; the very real possibility that one of these kids may very well fall out of one of these trees, fall twenty or so feet to the ground and break his neck. This would be very big news around here for quite a while. The death of a child is always shocking. I can recall like it was yesterday the time a childhood friend of mine was struck and killed by a commuter train as he walked home from baseball practice. He had been waiting for a train to pass so he could cross the tracks. When the train went by he started forward not knowing another train was behind it coming the other way. Such violence occurring to a third grader is impossible even to imagine, and his family was devastated, having to move to the other side of town where they couldn't hear the train whistle.) So the theater of the damned is just that: an arena of the unwell. I think I'm going to give it a rest in March and maybe crank it up again on a bi-weekly basis in April.  Freilich's crack about Jesus' building his own cross when he heard I was building a stage for the Saturn Bar has a little more resonance now than when he first uttered it last October.        


            Flash forward a few days. I'm out in Henderson, LA, near Breaux Bridge where Mark Bingham is putting the finishing touches on the record we started last November. Mark decamped out here after the latest rock star invasion of his studio. It's really rather nice. The Tom Paines did some recording out here a few weeks ago. Looks like my record will be called "How To Be a Cannonball", which seems like the kind of lesson I could teach. As I sit on the porch writing this I can hear playback coming down the stairs and it's Tim Green playing a most epic saxophone solo, sounding like David Sanborn and the Carpenters in a knife fight in Alphabet City 25 years ago. Wait...Karen just kneed Sanborn in the balls and sliced open his nostril. Yeah man! This record has a certain cleanness to it that I like, and I seem to sing pretty much in tune, which helps. I look forward to people hearing this record. Lord knows it's been a long time in coming. I also look forward to going out there and trying to get this music in front of people. NYC and the Bay area will be my first stops, with a longer Northeast trip in late July and early August, but anyone out there who wants to have me come to your town drop me a line and let's see if we can work it out. If I can get there and back and break even or better I'm your man. That means Anywhere USA. I'll do house parties, whatever.

            Ok that's it for now. Be well.