as the day begins

I had to look up indefatigable while reading a scholarly article for school. I look up many words all the time just to be absolutely certain I’m getting it right. I played a show almost twenty years ago in New York opening for Sufjan Stevens just prior to things taking off for him. It was at the Knitting Factory, specifically the 2cnd Knitting Factory. I played a show a few years earlier at the first Knitting Factory opening for John Zorn or maybe opening is the wrong way to put it. We were on around 9:30 and he was on at 11. Somebody taped that show on VHS but I lost it, pity. Another time in New York I played the Bitter End, again someone taped me and offered to send it to me but they never did. That was memorable not only because the guy who recorded it told me his story, being an activist about the damage done by agent orange and lawsuits he had overseen but because of hanging with Paul Krassner and Odetta. I played the Living Room one time and Garland Jeffreys came to see me! But I ruined that relationship when Bruce Springsteen’s name came up in our conversation because they were friends and I made the faux pas of saying something like could you play my shit to Bruce? Whatever future me and Garland might have had, in an instant I could see his new expression meant I just put an end to it, so it goes. I think he came to my show because a few months earlier I backed him up on accordion at the Horseshoe in Toronto which was awesome because his first record Ghost Writer was on high rotation in my bedroom as a teenager along with the black light posters and my organ/ clavinet set up, with which I played along to most of my records. In some ways I was imagining Blue Rodeo years before anyone else was. When I opened for Sufjan it was in the bowels of the Knitting Factory, a little space deep underneath the main level which might have been called the knot room. Sufjan and his group were very kind to me even made me feel like a big-shot. It’s not the usual was things go when you bust your ass to travel, find the means to stay somewhere, deal with car problems, border crossings, band complaints, owners of the place where you will set up and play for 40 minutes, then disappear. Kindness or friendliness goes a long way. Played a show one time at Fez in New York. Joni Mitchell did a surprise show the week before. The staff left her name on the marquee because it was impressive and funny to see her name listed nonchalantly. The kind of sandwich marquee with white removable lettering like the blackboard of a delicatessen. Because I was tonight’s artist, my name was listed. I took a picture of it, enjoyably surreal, tonight me last week her. The flash on my camera obliterated the whole thing reflecting only the glass, I didn’t realize until I got home and developed the film. Greg, the bass player from the Wallflowers was there and his cousin who lived in Manhattan. It was fun to hang with those guys and they too laughed at the marquee. There’s another hole in my daughter’s pants. I keep older clothes to select new patches from. My sewing technique like my piano playing came about through my own efforts. I never stuck with studying notation and I don’t know if pro seamsters have right or wrong ways to thread needles, but I don’t let these things interfere with my indefatigable ambition to complete the jobs I start.

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