What they did opening for Todd Rundgren

I wasn’t at the Variety Playhouse yesterday, where Marty was playing, but I’m still going to try to provide a basic description of the scene, via his telling of it.

Not only was I not at the Variety Playhouse, I didn’t do my yoga yesterday. It’s the first time in the nearly seven weeks since I started doing the yoga that I didn’t do it. The entire household woke up sick…not dreadfully sick (apart from a bit of fever, and congestion and upset stomach) but lay you out on the futon-sofa sick where someone asks you to do something and your mind checks out your body to see if it will comply but the body doesn’t respond and your mind decides its only option is to go back to sleep. Except for Marty. He wasn’t feeling top form but he managed to move. But then he’d been invited by Clay Harper to play in his band opening up for Todd Rundgren (that last name is a real problem for a dyslexic) and had to be at the Variety Playhouse. Noises were made about H.o.p. and me going to the show but then Thursday morning we woke up sick and the next thing I knew (for all intents and purposes, it having been a waste of a day here) Marty was calling me to tell me the show was over.

So, Clay Harper (singing), Marty (Wurlitzer), Reggie (drums–kick, snare, hi hat), Jimmy Cobb (bass) and Ken Watt (trumpet and flugelhorn) set up on the stage, in a straight line across it. And there they sat in their folding chairs. All the way across the stage. Everyone settled into their folding chairs. Sandra Hall was there too, singing, and had her own folding chair. And there was a hiphop dancer and their MC, a Jamaican guy by the name of Fire. They had their own folding chairs too and were on stage through the entire show but they were sometimes released from their folding chairs whereas everyone else stayed put.

What they did.

They played stripped down versions of Clay’s songs interspersed with tapes from telephone messages (responses to a personal ad Clay had placed) and a long rant from a mail man.

Marty couldn’t tell what the mail man’s rant was as he couldn’t hear it but his cue was, “There’s going to be a revolution.”

They started with the phone messages. The musicians sat through the entire show. Every time the tapes ran the stage went dark.

“It wasn’t quite the right crowd for this show,” Marty says, “but the people that got it enjoyed it.”

They were almost booed off the stage once. Marty says it was his fault, that he got the tempo wrong on one song and the song after it was ultra slow and no one wanted two slow songs in a row. But they salvaged it all and apparently the presentation, very stripped down, went very well. The idea was they play the least they could play and have it still be music.

They did “Roly Poly” and I wish I’d been there to hear it. I love “Roly Poly”. They did “Crazy”. These are all some great songs of Clay’s that were recorded back in the 90’s when he still had his Casino studio and was producing vinyl singles of his stuff and wrapping them up in fun covers. Marty was in on those sessions. And they performed some other tunes from other CDs of Clay’s. Old Ray, Kid’s on the Weekend, Main Street, Three Fingers. A 40 minute show that turned into 30 minutes as their start time had been pushed back from 8:00 to 8:10.

Some people were yelling for older songs that they didn’t do.

It was the first time they’d played together in eleven years and Marty said it was outstanding. I had some question, hearing that the show was interspersed with phone messages, which seemed rather outdated to me, but Marty says it worked very well and was instead outrageous, hilarious and crazy.

By the way, Marty says Todd Rundgren was incredible.

H.o.p. is still quite not back to normal (neither am I). He’s laid out on the futon and last I checked he’s still got a low fever and his eyes are still red (so are mine) but he’s better than he was yesterday. Yesterday he was curled up on one corner of the futon. I was unable to find the memory card for his camera and he wasn’t even moaning and groaning over the empty memory card slot in his camera, he just lay there, holding his camera, eyes glazed and vaguely focused on the television. Hardly a word from him, not even of complaint. Last night, beginning to feel a little better, he cheerily said, “When we feel better we’ll have a party, right?” Today he is stretched out full on the futon and holding his camera and occasionally clicking a photo (I found the memory card) and occasionally going through a coughing spell. I just took him some Tylenol. He was very cheery about the Tylenol.

Damn, I want to hear “Roly Poly” now. Where are those singles?

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

4 thoughts on “What they did opening for Todd Rundgren”

  1. One of the traditional definitions of yoga (there are several, I think all of them are from the Bhagavad Gita), is “Intelligence in all actions.” So, I think it is intelligent sometimes when you are feeling sick not to do yoga, or to modify and simplify your practice. I enjoyed reading about what Marty and the other musicians did. I also started wondering about Todd Rundgren because that’s one of those names I recall from my youth, but wasn’t sure which songs were his. So when I read this earlier I got sidetracked for a bit and went to Amazon to listen to some things and figure out if I knew any songs by Todd Rundgren. And lo and behold there were a couple I remember. They were even things I liked and heard on the radio, but I never knew who did them at the time. This is the way it is with me and music. There’s all kinds of stuff that if I hear it I know it was stuff I heard at the time it first came out but I never knew who the musicians were, nor the title of the song, nor what album it came from. Sometimes, in fact often, I didn’t even really understand what the words were! Sometimes I am amused and surprised to find out what the words to a song from long ago really were!

  2. I’ll feel a bit of a blasphemer when I reveal I don’t care for Todd Rundgren’s music, and the one concert I ever went to of his (with Marty, of course) my ears rang for hours afterwards, it was that loud.

    The voice, for me, is just another instrument. I tend to be a bad one with lyrics. I rarely pay any attention to them.

  3. Sounds like it would have been an awesome performance. I liked some Todd and didn’t care for others, but he always seemed like he was so on his own journey that it didn’t matter. You’ve got to appreciate that.

    We’ve had similar crud running through our household again as well. I say, “ENOUGH!”

  4. It continued throughout the weekend. Each time we thought we were better we were knocked down again.

    Enough is enough and then some. Hope your household is over and done with it pronto.

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