Monday, July 24, 2006

Mark the Nut, Ben the Star and A. Whole Profundo

Last nite was the monthly open mic nite at the famous Folk Music Center in Claremont, CA. Brother A-bomb, Liam Canary and myself like to go in and play a few songs each to hasten that glorious day when the Canaries are bigger than the Beatles. We didn't get much hastening done last night though. A-Bomb was the only of us to play. Liam had love interests he had to tend to and I was a lazy schlub all month and had nothing to play. So I just went to watch and be witty.

It was too late to eat, so we got in line and were glad because it was only 100 dgrees in the shade in Claremont. It was 107 in Rio Nada. Those 7 degrees can make a big difference. If you don't believe me, ask the polar ice caps.

We were standing there minding our own business when I saw Mark the Nut glaring at us from across the street as he adjusted his shirt or coat or chonies or something. His eyes never left us. Then he begins to walk towards at a deliberate pace. There might have been steam coming from his ears, I'm not sure. But I do know that if he had screwed his face up any more severely it would have sucked in upon itself never to be seen again. He made a sort of F-16 low altitude face fly by of A-Bomb's beezer, coming within six inches of said protuberence and he flew up the street in one swoop. He hovered around for the rest of our line time, adjusting things and giving us the stink eye.

"If he goes for me, whack 'em with yer uke, I'll buy ya a new one." I said to A-Bomb, never taking my eyes of the Nut.

Later, the owner of the store told me that his name was Mark and he was just a mathematics grad student gone bad and that he was really harmless, homeless and had been around for years. She said the worst thing to do is get in a conversation with him because he will recite Pi to you for days.

Next time I will just say "Mark, go away!" and save A-Bomb a tragic uke mishap.

For a hot day, it was pretty crowded. We parked ourselves along the Wall O' Instruments just between the banjos and the ukes, just behind A. Whole Profundo and his mother, Ms. Profundo. A. Whole is, in his mind, the only person in the Universe that should sing "'Ol Man River". In an audience, he is the lady who won't remove her hat or turn off her cell phone and talks to the movie screen. All his mother and he did was stare at the banjo wall and talk about the banjos. To make things worse, he got on stage and sang something from an obscure French opera. You could hear the coyotes in the San Gabriel Mountains.

"Gimme yer uke! I wanna whack 'em! I'll buy ya a new one!" I grumbled to A-Bomb.

It was looking more and more like a night to remember for all the wrong reasons.

Until Ben Harper showed up.

The Folk Music Center was founded by Ben Harper's grandfather, Mr. Chase. Ben's mother runs the place now and Ben owns it. Ben, as you may know, is a well known and accomplished folk/alternative singer/songwriter. He is also married to Laura Dern.

He sang two songs and they were exquisite. His voice was sweet and soulful and his songs superb. He turned the night around. No more Mark the Nut. No more A. Whole Profundo.

A-Bomb was pretty good, too. I especially liked his "Daydream". We all mumbled along because we thought we knew the words but we didn't. He did a cool scat to take it home.

There was also a girl named Sydney who had a set of pipes like the Royal Albert Hall Organ. A huge voice! And her songs were mournful and well-crafted. She messed my hair up.

After the show, A-Bomb and I walked around the corner to that trendy watering hole called The Press. We sat at one of those cute little highrise tables with cute little highrise stools waiting for some table service. None appeared.

So I went to the bar and ordered a pale ale for me and an iced tea for A-Bomb. And it just dawned on me...I tipped that chump a buck! What kind of fool am I?


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