Sunday, March 08, 2009
So how does one come about to get Joan Baez's first-ever autograph on a NASCAR SPECIAL? When she shows up with her band, Dirk Powell, Scott Nygaard, Todd Phillips, and her son Gabe Harris at the Bar Angus roadhouse bar just south of Trumansburg. You know, the one with the life-size Angus Bull on the roof. Dirk is friends with members of The All American Hell Drivers who were playing there. Now Gail and I went to hear The Hell Drivers a few years ago at the Bar Angus, which is pretty much the only place they play. On that night we were the only two listening to the band and when a regular patron from the bar used the bathroom the septic system released a volume of gas to rival the band's volume. Things were different this time...
On this night two remarkably divergent events combined into a surreal one. Joan Baez put on a stellar show at The State Theater. I wasn't going to go, but when a friend, Michael Hansen, mentioned he loves Joan, I burned a copy of her 2003 State Theater show that the dearly departed Brian Alger had recorded. I thought, that was a great show, why would I skip this one? Two efforts to get on the usher list didn't work, and when I tried to win tickets from WVBR I didn't even get through using two phones. But the person who did get through was Beth Orenstein, who was leaving town for the week and gave the phone to Kathleen Purdy who accepted them, but didn't want to go. Gail and I walked in a few minutes later and she offered us the tickets. When I found out Dirk Powell was in her band I figured he might sit in with Long John and the Tights during their happy hour set at Felicia's. He didn't play with them, but he came by and told Michael (also there) about the plan to go to The Bar Angus after the show, with Joan.
Joan danced with Dirk for awhile before stepping up to sing a couple songs (much rougher than at the State). After singing she really got to dancing with everybody who asked. Here she's dancing with David Dahle to "Billie Jean" which Hee Haw Nightmare frontman Eric Kincaid stepped up to the mike and killed. She did tell David's wife, Anu, that Anu was the best dancer there.
The band is "normally" comprised of Steve Selin, Rich Hallet, Richie Stearns, Eric Aceto, Ben Gould, Tom Gilbert and Bob Champion. On this magic night Dirk Powell sat in on piano, Susie Mills played something, Rosie Newton and Dee Specker fiddled, lots of people grabbed a tamborine. That's Michael Hansen playing the harp.
Joan did commit one gaffe when she raised her fist in jubilation and took Michael out with a direct shot to the face. But all was forgiven and we'll all be talking about this night every time we get someone willing to listen. There were so many strange moments it's hard to mention them all, but I have to say watching Joan crawl around on a table covered with beer bottles and jackets to find her jacket put it all over the top. Thanks to all the people who posted pictures on Facebook that I stole to use for these posts.