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Happy Valentine’s Day 2016 From Unorganized Hancock and the Pigeon Sisters

My two sons, AKA Unorganized Hancock, are performing at the 49 Franklin event venue here in Rumford, Maine, this Valentine’s Day. They’re full of love, those boys, and mischief, which is a great combination.

Unorganized Hancock has performed several times at 49 Franklin. If memory serves, it was the very first public venue they ever played at. It’s a converted church, and has different rooms for different types of functions. UH has always performed in the Mystic Theater, which holds about 75 people. It’s a really nice room with a high ceiling, a real stage, and nightclub seating. This year, they’re playing in a bigger room downstairs that has big Gothic windows and an acre of hardwood floor. It’s where bigger events like weddings and so forth are held.

The kids are playing two sets. It’s the sort of music job we used to refer to as “General Business.” Weddings, parties, and corporate events all fell under General Business back when I did it. I have no idea if anyone still calls it that. The boys will play a low-key Jazz set while people commingle and then eat dinner. After some somewhat official Valentine’s Day activities, the boys will finish with an hour of dance music.

The weather forecast for Sunday calls for a high of 7 degrees, and 10 below zero at night. This is the time of year when everyone does things indoors here, and I hope the boys have a jolly crowd to take the curse off midwinter. I know they’ll bring spare jolly to hand out if anyone’s short.

49 Franklin.

The Maine Band With Heart: Unorganized Hancock

My sons, also known as Unorganized Hancock, are featured on this month’s installment of the Today River Valley TV show. We don’t have television, so we can’t see it. Then again, our entire family is accustomed to never seeing anything to do with any form of entertainment, because we’re always in it.

The way I see it, my sons are continuing my tradition of never participating in anything as part of the audience. I’m a thoroughly broken human person, unable to enjoy myself by sitting in an audience. I never had any idea how to act when I wasn’t facing the wrong way in a room full of people. I wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. I always forget to applaud, too, because during my musical career, I wasn’t supposed to applaud, and the audience didn’t want to, so I never heard enough clapping in order to learn where it’s supposed to go.

My kids do hear applause now and then. They deserve it. I thought the quote from the Today River Valley page was accurate:

An unusual and talented musical duo from Rumford has Youtube success but hopes for real world recognition too

The Unorganized Hancock YouTube page recently passed 75,000 hits, which puts them in the running as one of the most notable bands in Maine, at least YouTube-wise. They don’t perform live as often as they’d like to, which was brought up by the interviewer. He thought they were some form of wonderful, and wondered aloud why they aren’t also some form of famous already.

Beats me. I like them.

[Update: Many thanks to the kids most devoted fan, Kathleen M. from Connecticut, for her constant support of the boys via our PayPal tip jar. It is much appreciated]
[Further Update: Many thanks to our friend Dinah H. from Missouri for her continuing support via our PayPal tipjar. It is much appreciated]

I Double Dog Dare You

My two homeschooled sons, AKA Unorganized Hancock, are back with more video from last week’s performance. This one’s special.

The Heir wrote this one. He calls it Chloe’s Cha Cha. I find it kind of wonderful on a bunch of levels. First, it’s nice to see him writing things. Learn, Do, Teach is the old adage for the trajectory of any career. If you’re wise, you never really stop learning, but the division of labor should concentrate on those stages. They both have been learning, learning, learning, so it’s nice to see the Do, Do, Do rear its ugly head. And the Da, Da, Da, of course.

The song is more complicated than they can play with just the two of them live, but they’ll record a studio version of it one of these days. The full Monty of the song’s got a fonkee Esquivel vibe I adore.

If you’re new around here, the Little Drummer Boy is barely eleven, and he only learned to play the cha-cha a couple of weeks ago. To recap: He’s an eleven-year-old that can play a cha-cha live in front of audiences for money. Go find me another one of those. I double dog dare you.

[Update: Many thanks go out to Kathleen M. from Connecticut for her unfailing support of the children’s PayPal tip jar. It is much appreciated]
[Additional Update: Many, many thanks to William O in Texas for supporting the kids’ efforts via the PayPal tipjar. We all appreciate it!]
[Yet More Up-To-Date: Many thanks to Dan D. from Connecticut for supporting the boys via the PayPal button. Why are people from the Nutmeg State so nice? I don’t know, but I’m glad of it]

The Girl From Iwo Jima And Other Wonders

Unorganized Hancock at the Mystic Theater in Rumford, Maine On Friday, July 11th, 2014.

Not all the acts showed up. I’m used to the music business. That’s common. Sometimes the bands don’t show up. Sometimes the owner doesn’t show up. Mostly the audience doesn’t show up, in my experience.

Summertime’s sleepy in Rumford. People go upta camp, and bug out for other varied reasons. In the winter everyone goes to everything to forestall cabin fever. They call its Woods Queer here. Alone in a cabin drove people to behave strangely after a while, or even take their own life. The Mystic Theater is a cure for cabin fever. No one has cabin fever in high summer, but they showed up anyway. Not packed, but every table was occupied.

The man that runs the place is pleasant. He emcees, and does close up magic from far away, but no one minds, and his wife serves drinks and smiles at everyone, and they smile back. He asked me, with a hint of desperation in his voice, if the kids could split their act in half and finish the show as well as play early. They were just supposed to play a set of jazz and get off the stage. I said sure. They have hours of material if they play pop songs.

Other people sang to recorded backing tracks. None of them was bad. One of them was extraordinary, and I want to remember his name, but I can’t. I want to remember it because he is my hero, and you really should remember your hero’s name, shouldn’t you? He is afflicted with cerebral palsy, I think. I didn’t ask. He had a good deal of trouble getting around, but he got around.

There were some lovely young girls singing the usual sorts of things teenage girls sing. Disney princess songs and TV talent show winner pablum. I was surprised at how well they sang, actually. They were painfully shy. Painfully shy people often want to be on the stage because they’re too shy to be in the audience, in my experience.

Then my hero got up. There is a short, spartan flight of steps to get up on the stage, and how he negotiated them, I’ll never know. He did. He sat on the stool at the microphone that you can still see in the foreground of my sons’ video. He sang some sort of faux-Broadway number I didn’t recognize. You know the sort of thing. Pirates Of The Lords Of The Cats Of The Miserables or something. He sang it with the accent that his affliction visits on people, and he sang it strong, and he impressed the living hell out of me. While he was sitting on the stool and singing, his feet jutted out in front of him like an exercise, and waved to commands unheard even by him.

His grandparents sat in the front row, and had one-tenth the enthusiasm for him that I did, which is a great deal of enthusiasm indeed. Not demonstrative, exactly; visible, like a tear in the eye. Of course it would be more matter-of-fact for them than for me, a stranger. When he was done, he took his applause and made his way to the front of the stage, where he was faced with the stairs, now heading down, down, down. Both the owner and I instinctively moved towards him, and reached out our hands, but he waved us away, sat on his ass, and crab-walked his way down the risers and treads, then got up and sat with the two minor saints that brung him.

One doesn’t forget a person like that; just their name.

Way, Way More Than An Hour On The Stage

Shall I sing you the song of my people?

Shall I strut and fret an hour upon the stage? Wait a minute, I don’t take music gigs any more. What I mean to say is, do you want to hear a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying, well, not nothing, but not much, either? 

I said earlier that if I describe my life accurately, no one believes me. If I tell the truth, I’m disbelieved, or excoriated, to taste. People think I’m bragging when I’m expiating my guilt, and they think I’m being modest when I’m thumpin’ my chest. I have some problems explaining that I don’t like explaining jokes, especially if I have to explain that I was joking before explaining the joke. 

But enough about me; what do you think about me? (There. that’s a joke. Drat. I’m doing it.) Should I tell you what I did this summer? Think before you answer. By proxy, you’re asking me a direct question. That’s like making eye contact with panhandlers or people handing out flyers in front of the alternative bookstore. You’re going to have to shoulder some blame if you look me directly in the Intereye and say, Sippican, what did you do this summer? 

If you ask a normal person what they did this summer, you figure they’ll tell you about their tedious trip to Disney World, or whatever normal people do in the summer; how would I know what normal people do? I haven’t talked to a normal person in years. I’ve retreated to my mountain bolthole and only get to espy circus families in the Walmart to gather intel on my fellow citizens. I gather you like NASCAR and Funyuns more than I do. Other than that you’re all a mystery.

So be warned; if you answer in the affirmative, I’m not going to tell you about vacation, because I haven’t had one in fifteen years or so, and I won’t tell you about the interesting things I saw on television, because there is no such thing, and I can’t take pictures of my food in funky restaurants and Instagram the shite out of them because I never leave the house, never mind go to restaurants. 

All I can tell you about is lifting my house six inches with no money and a seventeen-year old to help. If you’re not interested, say so now.

The Violet Days Are Here

It’s ten degrees, but it won’t last. The sun is retreating and dragging the thermometer with it. The violet days are here.

There was a moment before sunset when the sky and the earth and everything in, on, and between them turned this lovely purple hue. It’s an indescribable color. Light through a lens fashioned from a limpid pool, frozen. It can’t mean anything but cold to my eye. I don’t know how many bedrooms I’ve seen painted this color. It’s arctic looking, and the person that chose it always told me it was, you know ” a warm color.” Yes, it is, in the same way a walrus butthole planted on a floe is warm. To a lunatic, it might be warm.

But cold as a concept is not as bad as many make it. It is a fact, here. It will be below zero, day and night, for three days in a row. It will be ten, fifteen, maybe push twenty below zero at night. Winter is not fooling around anymore. So what.

Winter is a full time job in Maine, E. B. White said. But he lived Downeast, where it’s warm compared to here. But he understood. You have to look it straight in the face, and deal with it. You can’t go out in your socks and scrape the frost from your windshield with a credit card. I’ve made over 500 fires already, and I’ve only used one match, once, to do it. You have to prepare yourself for winter. It reminds you that you’re mortal, and that there are seasons, and those seasons have meaning. It shows you that your life will pass you by if you’re not careful. Winter is useful that way.

I see a great number of people talking about how they’re going to deal with a coming apocalypse. They’re going to hoard this and grow that. They’re going to be the Omega Man crossed with Johnny Appleseed. Forgive me, but life is plenty hard here, and I can’t help but notice you’re not moving in next door to me before the apocalypse. I doubt you will the day after. If winter is too much for you, I doubt you’re prepared for an army of zombie Robespierres or whatever it is you’re planning for.

I can’t say I like the winter. I’ve always been cold. Poor people are often cold, and I have been poor in my life. I’m not a fool and I don’t like misery. But I respect the winter here. It’s a worthy adversary, and so, goddamn it, am I. Bring it on.

Tag: Rumford

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