OK so I show up at this event, which is called the 13th Annual Spring Gulch Folk Festival, with my Dad and my friend Matt (big fruheads), and my other friend Bobby (never seen 'em live). We drive all the way from Brooklyn to this thing, which is basically a big field filled with people on lawn chairs and a small stage at the front.
when we get there, some guys were fiddling on stage, and to be fair, i came for fruvous, but the other acts at this festival were damn good. The fiddle guys were name John Rossbach and Karl Lauber and they played the hell out of their instruments (i'd never seen a guy pick a fiddle like an electric bass before). matt, bobby and i smoked some herb that bobby had found on the subway (but that's a different story), then we bought some tye-dye shirts and talked to the cute girls who were selling the tye-dye shirts, and i realized that if my bitch girlfriend didn't have me so neutered and whipped, i could probably get with those girls..RRRRRRAAAAAAAGH...but I digress.
as we played frisbee this band called Trout Fishing In America (www.troutmusic.com) comes on. If you can image fruvous with two guys instead of four, and songs geared especially for children, you've got a good idea what these guys do. They were enormously entertaining, and besides that, they LOOKED hilarious. You see, they have this incredibly gigantic guy playing guitar--he looked like a 7 foot sammy Hagar with straight hair. and then on bass was a frickin midget! he could not have been over 4 feet, this bass dude, and his giant upright made him look shorter. so basically, they looked ridiculous, a fact Moxy would point out later.
after them was that god-awful irish band from "Titanic". I'm not going to say their name because that might accidentally promote them. first they spent an hour talking about their movie and how "The carpeting in the movie 'Titanic' was done by the same man who actually carpeted the boat!" then they said "don't see Star Wars; we want Titanic to stay the number one movie of all time." then they played, which was even worse.
at 5:00,though, the most wonderful thing happened...Moxy came onstage to play a "workshop" with Trout Fishing In America. I don't know why they called it a workshop, basically the bands just played songs, but they were GOOD songs, and they included a Fruvous improv gem. The setlist for the workshop was:
*My Nose Froze [dunno if that's the real title] I Love My Boss *What I Want Is A Proper Cup of Coffee The Also Rans [improv] *Before You Accuse Me [Clapton] Early Morning Rain [Lightfoot] *We Are The Dinosaurs The Kid's Song *The Breakfast Blues You Will Go To The Moon
*=Song by Trout Fishing In America, Moxy played background or just fooled around
The Also Rans [improv]-- jian shows the crowd a newspaper: "we always like to check out what the local press has to say whenever we play somewhere new" he says. "so here we have 'this week in lancaster county', and there's this big article about the spring gulch folk festival, and here, you can see, it says 'a great catch.' so basically its an article about Trout fishing In america, but we figure, maybe we'll be mentioned in here somewhere...let's see..'along with trout fishing in america, there will be returning favorites such as gene shay..artisan...irish stepdancing..and harmonic, four-part band foreshadow...' you'll notice moxy fruvous is no where in the listings. so in the tradition of woody guthrie I strapped on my guitar and wrote a song about it."
then they play this terrific ditty, filled with with snide remarks about trout fishing in america. the chorus was "They're a great catch/And maybe we suck/They're the stars of the Spring Gulch batch/And we've got lousy luck//But if you want to life live dangerously/Be an enigmatic fan/Summon up your courage/and cheer for the also-rans...the also-rans" and the best verse was "Yeah we know they're funny/Just vertically is why/They got one little shirmpy dwarf-like man/And a figgin' monster guy" This was the highlight of the show for me. the fact that this band cannot only sing, cannot only play their instuments, cannot only do it live, but can make it up on the the spot... it's a billion to one, this kind of talent. i'm really gald i taped this song.
The Breakfast Blues--This was just great. Trout Fishing in America has this song, its a blues song with terrible puns about breakfast ("you give me hard eggs in the morning," "what do you eggs bendict me to do now?", "You left a waffle taste in my mouth"). they tell the crowd, especailly the little kids, to throw garbage at the bassist every time he says some awful pun. well by the end of the song he's covered in crumpled up paper and stuff, and jian is going "thats right children, dont stop! garbage is good!" then murray announces that the next song they are going to play is "keep america beautiful." "You know, that was pretty scary with all those kids throwing garbage," murray says, "I was in a pitched battle with a 7 year old." "a 'pitched' battle?" mike moans, "Somebody needs to throw somehting at THIS guy."
You Will Go To The Moon--It turns out that Trout Fishing in America's Breakfast Blues was played for the astronauts. So Fruvous got defensive: "Now We're gonna do the song WE have that was played for the astronauts," murray says. "yes," dave goes, "everbody has one these days. they've got a big jukebox up there."
At 8:00 fruvous played their actual show. it was short, and it didn't have most of the songs i like, but it was still a fruvous show and it was damn good. Setlist:
Half As Much You Can't Be Too Careful Horeshoes I Will Hold On Minnie The Moocher Johnny Saucep'n King Of Spain Green Eggs & Ham Psycho Killer The Drinking Song
The new songs were all right; I think "I Will Hold On" is a little too much of a "ohh look at jian he's really hot" ballad but whatever, the girls were shreiking and that's not a bad thing. I don't understand why they won't drop "Horseshoes," I always thought it was a drain on their sets. I'd much rahter here "It's Too Cold" but I haven't seen that live since '96.
"Minnie The Moocher" was the standout of the set. I forget the lyrics this time but they were hilarious, i'll post again if I find them out. i think he said "If you want to see what's wrong with american culture/Come on out and take a look at any Spring Gulch-er....Hi-de-hi-de-hiiiiii"
"Psycho Killer" was also great, especially towards the end, it really exploded. l liked it better than the Love Potion #9 ending, and that's saying a lot, because I love that song and waht fruvous does to it. The Drinking song was great as always, never grows old, every time it starts too I just think about the lyrics. This song is a lyrical masterpiece, that's easy to overlook when you're singing along but c'mon..."Drunk on the lawn in a nuclear dawn..." you wont find better than that anywhere.
hey everyone :). back from spring gulch with a sunburn and an empty wallet. $28 admission got me parking and lots of neat stuff, including a trout fishing in america set, a joint früvous/trout workshop, a step dancing lesson, a performance by gaelic storm (the band from titanic) and a set by früvous. trout fishing's set was introduced by kathy o'connell, host of "kids' corner" on XPN. she mentioned that the band would be doing a workshop with früvous, an announcement which was met with shrieks from the früheads in attendance. "are there früheads here?" she asked. well, duh :). "nice people those früheads. how many of you are on the newsgroup? i lurk among you . . ." well, all i have to say to that is HI KATHY!!! trout fishing's set was great. me, trace, früwench, lori, and steve all got up to dance and had a ball. the workshop was also fantastic. the früvous list:
a song they wrote about not being mentioned in the local paper in conjunction with the festival i love my boss you will go to the moon early morning rain
that's probably out of order and possibly not complete. the best part of the workshop, however, was when trout fishing challenged the guys to sing along with "all i want is a proper cup of coffee." coming in a close second was when one of the guys from trout fishing sang a song and encouraged the audience to throw things at him when he made puns. needless to say, the song was rife with them. jian took the newspaper he had been discussing and ripped pages out of it for us. we handed them to the little kids, who began tossing them not only at trout fishing, but at früvous as well. murray began a little paper-ball fight with some of the kids. after the workshop, there was a dastardly long line for autographs, so i decided to forgo the meet and greet. i walked past the autograph tent in search of a bottle of water and exchanged a grin with jian, who was walking away with his hands full of bags and early birthday presents.
früvous' evening set was rushed and harried, and they appeared to be having quite a bit of difficulty with their instruments. they were introduced by the inimitable gene shay who found himself filling time with jokes as jian screwed around trying to get his drum kit ready. gene began a joke with "what do you call a frenchman . . ." which prompted jian to stop fooling with the cymbals and look at him. the punchline was harmless, so jian returned to the microphones. anyway, according to murray's or jian's list (can't remember which it is that i have--oh wait, it's murray's. jian handed his to a little girl at the end who turned to her friend and started screaming :).
half too careful horse hold minnie michy sauce king green psycho -- dance drink
there were no hats for minnie and the bullhorn wasn't on stage so they skipped michy completely. yes, ladies and gentlemen--no michigan militia. they also ended up skipping the dancing queen medley, but at least we got the drinking song :).
i jetted right after früvous' set. on my way to the bathroom to change into driving-home pajamas, i watched jian sprint by toward the parking area behind the dance barn. guess he had to be somewhere in a hurry :).
a fun day altogether. it made me that much more excited for falcon ridge :).
(Narrative, not fully show review. Just relax and take it all in.)
We started looking forward to Spring Gulch way back in February, when Jack Ross announced that the festival was going to be paying the guys a lot to play there.
Ellen and I left her place in Columbia about 10 a.m., fairly psyched to be seeing Fruvous after a long-ish layoff. Our drive took us through little towns with names like Intercourse and Bird-in-Hand, where Amishness is an industry. Aaah, Pennsylvania.
Damn, those towns were quaint.
We found the campground with no incident, except that the buggies on 340 slowed us way down.
We hadn't even entered the actual festival grounds when we encountered our first Fruheads of the day: Jen and Trace. We took a gambol around the grounds and determined that every hippie east of the Mississippi was present here in Central PA.
Hadn't spotted very many geeks yet.
We climbed up a steep-ish hill to the pool, where we enjoyed being in the water; though it was too crowded to really swim. At one point I turned to Ellen and said I felt like we ought to be playing Marco Polo. Within a minute, a game sprang up among some young folk.
We had led them over to the dark side.
Later, we found some vacant grass close to the front, just left of center. We were surrounded by chairs and blankets, but no people to speak of, except the woman we dubbed the Cigarette Smoking Woman.
Trout Fishing in America was playing when we got back down the hill. They were entertaining. Bass fanatics take note: the bass player (sorry, I don't remember whether he's Ezra or Keith) was wearing a baseball cap with the bass clef marker on it.
Later in the afternoon, TFiA did a workshop with Fruvous, which was interesting to say the least. The workshop theme was No Rules, and while they didn't exactly instruct us on how to break, flout or ignore rules, they did switch off songs. There was a little interaction between the groups, who had apparently workshopped together in the past.
Fruvous started off with Boss, which was pretty standard stuff. I have to confess that I'm a little tired of it. I still like Mike's part, though. "They go real heavy on the sauce" seemed appropriate, as Mike wore a pink and orange striped shirt.
Ellen said she used to have one just like it.
Their second number, reportedly written that morning, played off an article in the Lancaster paper about the festival that featured TFiA and didn't mention Fruvous at all. We dubbed it "The Also Rans." It was slow, and slow getting started. Jian sang the main vocal and the last verse was the best.
"They may be better dressers, classy guys (a melange of adjectives about TFiA spoken by all the guys here) but they're still from Arkansas."
The workshop also featured a really great Early Morning Rain, with TFiA adding guitar and a little bass. It seemed like Murray's vocal was stronger and more confident, or maybe the sound was just better.
The energy was good on stage, and I can imagine that TFiA shows are a lot of fun. Fruvous finished with the Kids Song, very effective because of the large number of actual kids.
Segments of the population:
Mur: "The Glum." Mike: "No, the people of Alberta were asked. Dave?" Dave: "The Gleeful?" Jian: "The Glam Folk?"
Later, Gaelic Storm played. They were *way* too much fun, and I'll definitely go see them again. They played Irish music without it being cheesy, and they definitely carried themselves with a hint of irony. I liked that about them. The fact that I took a power nap during the second part of their set doesn't reflect on the band's ability. Honest. I felt much better after sleeping for 20 minutes.
An a capella group, Artisan, followed Gaelic Storm. They closed with the Rise of the Mary Ellen Carter, which was cool. Mur was peeking out from back stage while did their last song, interesting. The rest of their songs made me cringe in an "oh, Boomers had it *so* tough" way. There were three of them, two altos and a baritone, all singing in the same range; their between song patter sounded rote and I couldn't really find much to identify with in their performance.
I looked over to my right and noticed that the CSW had been through three packs of Parliaments, and that her son was banging on a drum that seemed to be entirely made of cowhide.
And then it was time for Fruvous. We moved down front, as much because it was dark now and cooling off as for any other reason. Ellen and I were standing Stage Murray and had a pretty good view.
Dave got things started by shouting "Are you ready for some Folk Music?" while waving his fist in the air.
They opened with a sound check, which was actually pretty funny. No, I couldn't tell you about it, but after they had levels straightened out, Mur re-introduced the band:
"Please welcome the only touring band with an underwear endorsement deal, Moxy Fruvous." And the crowd went wild. About that time I looked over my shoulder and noticed what looked like several thousand people cheering.
The first song was Half as Much, which sounded much smoother than it did before. I think there was more Murray in the vocal, always a good thing. The instruments seemed more in control, if that makes any sense.
Too Careful was next, also sounding a little more polished. I thought back to the first time I heard it, back on New Year's Eve. It's just too catchy.
Horseshoes -- Dave on acoustic, Mike on electric, no keyboard. I still love Horseshoes and it's a great song for a festival set because it showcases their vocal talents so well.
IWHO -- Weird without the backing vocal. I might get used to this, might not.
Minnie -- mildly amusing. Rob J. made a comment about liking Minnie better as a rarity. I can't disagree, but it's not bad for a festival. The lyrics were fresh, except for the Chelsea Clinton line, which most of us up front shouted at Mike. He looked a little surprised, but I can't imagine how.
They skipped Michigan Militia, encouraging us to sing it to our friends who hadn't heard it, but might need to and went straight into Johnny Saucep'n. They jokingly asked if TFiA wanted to join them, "Ezra and Keith knocked us on our asses with that Coffee Pot song, and I wonder if they'd like to join us for this one..." said Dave. There seem to be more and more audience members joining in, I can only get so far.
KOS/Green The king was psyched about the Leafs victory, 'nuff said.
As they started into Psycho Killer, it started to rain. Jian told us not to worry, but as Murray continued the bass line and people spread tarps over the monitors, Jian shushed the whole crowd. It was almost silent in the part as he started 'I can't seem to face up to the fact.' Very cool.
They encored with The Drinking Song, but no sing-along verse. It was OK, as everybody was singing the whole song anyway.
The rain had picked up a little. We stopped to chat with Zard and Chris for a few minutes, asking about Rodney. Chris said he was responding to stimuli, particularly people telling him jokes. We talked about getting together to take him a copy of Thornhill when it comes out, assuming he's up to visitors other than family by then.
The drive out wasn't fun. It was raining hard, and dark, and the road just looked different. The streets that had looked so quaint on the way in seemed to be blind alleys in the wet night.
Eventually we made it back to civilization by way of Baltimore, where we stopped at the Double T diner on Rt 40, also known as "the National Pike." It was prom night at a lot of high schools. This couple in amazingly coordinated outfits sat across from us. It was like Dance Fever meets Star Trek in silver hologram-lookin' lame.
This was the weirdest thing I'd seen since the woman in the Cathy Rigby
as Peter Pan shirt in the Spring Gulch food tent.
Some other tidbits from the performance include: