Valet Confidential

Find out what I've been keeping under my hat

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I do not embarrass easily

Over on the Facebooks the other day, Michael J. Epstein (of Darling Pet Munkee, Michael J Epstein Memorial Library, et al) posted this comment to his own post regarding workplace harassment training: “Training Pro-tip: You should never write anything electronically that you wouldn’t want your mother to see.”

I am reminded by the differing responses I got from my teachers and my parents when this letter appeared in the local newspaper.

Get Cosmic - The Followup Letter

Which was a followup to this letter, written by a friend of ours:

Get Cosmic - The Original Letter

As I remember it, our followup appeared in the paper the day of a school district open meeting of some sort and I guess some parents were quite upset. The next day my English teacher asked “What do your parents think of that?” And I had to be honest, “They thought it was hilarious.”

My father, a Presbyterian minister, would occasionally accost my friends & me as we walked down the road, rolling down the window of his car and jokingly yelling “HEATHENS!”

Another thing I was reminded by the “pro-tip”: my mother made me a very accurate nun’s habit for a costume one year. I went by the name “Mother Flucker”. Mom thought that was great. Somewhere there’s a pic of me in costume – I sure wish I could find it to share with you all. I wore it for the Chorallaries of MIT “Concert in Bad Taste” one year, and I think maybe it showed up in The Tech.

Also, her favorite Chandler Travis song was “Where’s My Glasses“.

For the most part, I really don’t think about what my mother and father would think about what I write here, twitter, or facebook. Then again, perhaps maybe I do after all, I just know that they’d be OK with it.

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My Funny Valentine

The Boaks on the Phones

The Chandler Travis Three-O played on Valentine’s Day this year, part of our weekly fall/winter residency at the Harvest Gallery Wine Bar (every Friday – at least through the end of February – come on out & see us!). We broke out a slew of Chandler’s more romantic songs that we don’t normally performed (“Sex Magnet“, “In My Hand“), as well as this old standard that Berke suggested.

When I heard we might play the song, I asked to sing a verse or bridge, because “My Funny Valentine” was my parents’ song. Instead, both Chandler  & I took a crack at the whole song – he during the first set, me in the second set. Both versions came out pretty well, I think – mostly due to the fantastic backing by John Clark (bass) and Berke McKelvey (sax & keyboards), of course.

I think I only sang this song once before – I remember singing it at my parents’ surprise 20th anniversary party, and that’s it.

Dedicated to Bill & Carolyn Boak.  I love you guys and miss you every day.

xo

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The luckiest fan in the world

Ever since I found out that Tom Ardolino died, about 1am Friday night/Saturday morning, I’ve been trying to come up with words that convey my appreciation and love for the man.

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Jody

Sorry not to have written much in the last few months. I’ll admit it, I’ve kind of become addicted to Facebook and have been enjoying meeting up with old friends, playing the scrabble-like game “lexulous”, and trying to come up with pithy status messages.

Sadly, something has come along that makes me want to write a longer piece.

This past Monday, a good friend of mine, a spiritual brother, Joseph “Jody” Duncan, died at the far-too-young age of 41. His friends & family are saying goodbye to him today in ceremonies in Henderson, KY; there’s another group of his friends who won’t be able to make it, because we’re far-flung all over the country. Most of us met Jody because of our mutual love for and obsession with the band NRBQ.

Jody was the guy who always knew the name and original artist of any obscure cover that NRBQ played. Or at least he had the music library at hand to figure it out. I would send him mp3’s of cuts I didn’t know, and he usually could get back to me with the right name & artist. Usually fairly quickly.

The first time I really spent any significant time with Jody was around Labor Day, 1999, when my then-wife, Maia, and I flew out to Louisville, KY to catch 4 Q shows in 4 days. The first of those shows was in Evansville, IN, which happened to be Jody’s hometown. I remember ahead of time he recommended a hotel to stay in (cheap, but not too shabby, and in a decent neighborhood, if I remember). He met us at the club, introduced us to all his hometown crazies, and we were fast friends. The next night was in Louisville, KY, and it was more of the same. He showed us such wonderful hospitality. Later that year, we made a trip to see NRBQ in Chicago (OK, really Berwyn, IL) and Champaign/Urbana, and, of course, Jody was at both shows.

A few years later, a special NRBQ fan weekend was put together by Stacey Q. Naturally, it was called “Wild Weekend”, and was held in Hartford, CT. Jody made the trip, along with a I don’t know how many other Q-balls, and now, everyone knew each other for real, not just online. The Chandler Travis Philharmonic was one of the opening acts for the shows, and I still remember Jody’s smile when Chandler sang “Surf’s Up”.

Here’s one story that to me is pure Jody. The NRBQ 35th Anniversary shows, which featured almost all living members of the band, past & present, were held in Northampton, MA. Jody made the trip but wasn’t sure if he could until practically the last minute. As I was filing out of the Calvin Theatre the 2nd night, the place was almost empty, except there was Jody, still sitting in his seat (the last seat in the far right corner of the last row of the balcony), with tears in his eyes.

Jody’s graveside service starts around 2pm CDT today. I plan on playing something joyous by NRBQ (maybe “Me & the Boys”) and raising a glass of Kentucky bourbon to Jody. I’m sure more than a few tears will be shed, too.

photo: Jeff Wilson

Until we meet again while travelling the spaceways … I love you, Jody.

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So long, George

Through my gig as valet to Chandler Travis, King of the World, I had the honor and pleasure to meet George Carlin. Chandler was kind enough to invite me along when he & Dinty opened for George several times over the last 4 or 5 years.

The first time I got to meet George, we were doing two shows in one night at the Cape Cod Melody Tent – we were introduced before we went on for the first show. I was heading out after our opening set for the second show and before he went on stage, George shook my hand, said “nice to meet you, Fred”. Damn – he remembered my name. Also at that first gig, when we were eating a quick dinner between shows, George said something alliterative and then repeated it to himself, mulling over the way the words ran together – I imagine that if he liked the way it sounded, he would write it in his notebook or something, saving it for a later day. It was cool to see that his mind was always working, always looking for potential new material.

The last time we opened for George, at the end of the night, he hugged Chandler goodbye, hugged Dinty goodbye, then shook my hand and said something along the lines of “you’re still kind of new – but next time, you get a hug”

Here’s a video clip of George talking about death – this is fairly recent, and I remember seeing him do this stretch of material at some of the gigs where we opened for him.

update: Chandler wrote a piece about George for local Cape Cod weekly newspaper The Cape Codder. It’s a remembrance of George unlike most others you’re going to find on the good ol’ world wide interweb. We have it up on the SonicTrout site in the Kelp on Kape section. Here’s a direct link to the piece.

update zwei: Bill O’Neill, Lifestyles Editor and Music Reviewer for the Cape Cod Times, has a little online remembrance of George which includes a great quote from Chandler, circa 1999: “Here’s a simplification of what I appreciate about George C: how much he produces, how little he panders, and what a fine friend he has been.”