For most of the month of October, Arts Desk contributor Justin Moyer and his band, D.C. modern rock quartet Edie Sedgwick, are touring Europe. Here is his latest dispatch.
Avano is a small town in northern Italy near the Alps. We can’t find the venue and must ask directions at an Italian barbershop. (This sentence is poorly constructed. Isn’t every barbershop in Italy an “Italian barber shop?”) A stylist with dyed, jet-black hair and skin the color of a blood orange shows us where the venue is. I ask her how much it costs to get my hair cut. She says, “There is no need for you to get your hair cut. You look beautiful.”
The venue is called the “Meltin’ Pot.”
Before the show, an upright bassist wearing a flight suit entertains bemused onlookers with music not unlike a cross between Bobby McFerrin and Run-DMC. He occasionally beat-boxes and raps in Italian. For reasons beyond the scope of this blog post, I am also wearing a flight suit. This coincidence is documented in photographs.
During the show, I jump up and down a lot. In jazz parlance, this type of showmanship is called “walking the bar.” John Coltrane refused to “walk the bar”—-that is, play a saxophone solo while walking up and down the bar, spilling patrons’ drinks—-because he found it demeaning. Obviously, Coltrane wasn’t selling 45s in the Internet age.
We sell a bunch of CDs, a few records and T-shirts, and make about 50 euro. (Italians, unlike Germans, are suspicious of vinyl.) As we are packing up, the promoter pays us 400 euro. I remind him that the guarantee was 450 euro, but I say he can keep the extra 50 euro. He says that sounds great. Then I say I was only kidding and actually need the extra 50 euro. He frowns and retrieves it from the cash register. This joke doesn’t quite come off as planned.
Adding insult to injury, we stay with the promoter, who’s had his license suspended for drunk driving. He lives in an enormous house in the middle of a field about 10 km from the “Meltin’ Pot.” Drummer J. points out Orion. Orion is there. The promoter’s dog is named after dub reggae icon Lee “Scratch” Perry, but it’s unclear whether the dog’s name is “Lee,” “Scratch” or “Perry.” Without warning, the promoter disappears into another, inaccessible part of the enormous house, leaving “Lee,” “Scratch,” or “Perry” to sleep with us. “Lee,” “Scratch,” or “Perry” is not happy with this set-up and whimpers throughout the night.
Before falling asleep, I read a biography of John Quincy Adams. “JQA,” as he is popularly known, lived in the shadow of his father, second president John Adams. When I fall asleep, I dream that I must debate a wigged English judge about the nature and origins of the American Constitution. The judge looks suspiciously like Pete Postlethwaite. I am winning the debate until it is revealed that I must begin speaking in an English accent to triumph. My accent is unconvincing and, after some humiliation, I lose.