Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Set in the mythical Iowa town of Mount Revere, the December Show is called “The Coming Home.” A stranger has wandered into town and finds himself at a coffeeshop surrounded by storytellers and musicians. The show features music by Josh Woosley, Tony Immergluck, Sam Butz, Jessie Stewart, and Grace Moran; plus, performances by Nicci Miles, Brandon Rowray, and Mike Moran. Also included will be a closing sing-a-long and an appearance by Frog.
“The Goatsinger Show has been developing both in form andcontent since it first began – becoming more theatrical without losing itsinitial quirkiness,” said producer, Mike Moran. “As always, we’re open to the strange or the curious – whatever playful or fascinating act we can book.”
Admission to The Goatsinger Show is on a pay-what-you-can basis.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
The joker got lucky, stole her back again
2nd and 3rd PLAYER
Oh, she's gone, I know she won't come back
I've taken the last nickel out of her gnashing sack
Winter time's comin', it's goin' to be slow
You can't make the winter, babe, that long dry, so
Thursday, November 10, 2011
THE IOWA GOATSINGER
-- this morning before the dawn --
he put on his white hoodie and his running shoes,
and he went outside to play the rabbit
down the streets of Mount Revere.
-- was that Hendrix whispering in my ear just now? Tempting me down the hole with the promise to teach me a new song?
-- his hood this morning flapped against his skull as he ran, and he wondered: Is this what it's like to run with long ears?
And Rabbit? He twitched at the sound of the man running at him, still some fifty yards off; then heard it for what it was, held himself still until the man ran by, and relit his pipe.
-- he wonders, as he runs up and down the streets in the darkness this morning: Why is the rabbit not afraid? --and answers back: Because he's smarter than the cat.
He ran up and down Mount Revere this morning --
In the hours before the dawn --
Hopping nimbly between sidewalk and street --
Following the goat path.
Down by the quarry, running --
He heard Greg Brown mutter --
From behind shutters of oak and maple --
"I'm living in a prayer."
Who was that glimpsed through a window while running this morning?
Were those horns over his ears? -- or headphones?
Was he dancing like Fagin in his own kitchen? Or am I mistaken?
Fathered by a trickster god -- weaned on Iowa corn.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
I love this idea, and I see it everywhere among my favorite performers: Laurie Andersen does it -- moving between telling a story, and playing some odd, lovely music while great blue shadows swim across the scrim behind her; Jack White does it, using only the sounds from his guitar as his voice, trying to guide it to the next song, Meg waiting patiently behind her drums, as do the tens of thousands who have gathered to hear him. In Big Time by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, Waits does it with some strong staging concepts and some killer monologues. And Greg Brown goatsings like a motherfather -- that old bastard in concert can be amazing.
I tried this story-before-the-song with a group of ten-year-olds for a performance workshop that I'd been hired to do in their classrooms back in Chicagoland -- telling this long story about about painting up a water pistol with shoe polish and robbing a drugstore -- and they loved it -- and the song it introduced: "Comic Books and Bubblegum."
So is goatsinging acting with some song-and-dance?
Not really: that's musical theater. A goatsinging piece, a "goatsong" if you will, needs to be created by a goatsinger.
What the hell is a goatsinger?
A goatsinger is someone who follows The Goatsinger Creed.
(next: The Goatsinger's Creed)
Friday, September 02, 2011
(All turn and regard him for a moment while he stands and plays, and then:)
Saturday, July 23, 2011
"Morning" by Emily Dickinson
Will there really be a morning?
Is there such a thing as day?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?
Has it feet like water lilies?
Has it feathers like a bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I’ve never heard?
Oh some scholar, oh some sailor,
Oh some wise man from the skies,
Please to tell a little pilgrim
Where the place called morning lies.
Friday, July 15, 2011
It was a late Saturday evening
Riding gravel with Willy-Todd
Humid Iowa evening
Flesh and Blood steaming
Yeah, the mood was odd
We saw a great big beautiful bonfire
Out in a shallow field
Curving shadows were dancing
We decided to chance it
Yeah, we made the devil a deal
A christian's eyes -- a sinner's smile
Stopped my heart -- no denial -- no, no, no, no
She was a bright-eyed shadow
Curving in the firelight like a knife's edge
Blurring -- a smoky look -- an open smile
Redemption there -- Lord, stop the trial
You think she holds the answer,
Willy-Todd, he said to me
But a woman's a hard road
Love makes for a heavy load
And you'll never be free
Then a gravel cloud kicked up high on the hill
And sirens cut through the night
The cops descended
The party was ended
Then some fool started a fight
Willy-Todd was at my shoulder
But the girl was pulling my hand
I told her it's okay
I'm not going away
I know what it means to finally be redeemed by a
Curving in the firelight like a knife's edge
Blurring -- a smoky look -- an open smile
Redemption there -- Lord, stop the trial
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Today will be a day of many fruits and vegetables, I've decided, out of curiosity of what might happen to my priestlike guts if I give them the fresh offerings rather than the burnt offerings they've come to expect.
You realize I have the spleen of a cardinal and the gall bladder of an archbishop; I have the nuts of fundamentalist preacher and the cock of an angry-at-God saint. My lungs draw up the breath like a local chaplain draws up the collection plate, knowing that it'll all be distributed back out to the parts to keep the temple moving.
My heart belongs to jesus/buddha/raven/balder but my mind is very much my own.
That's why my prayers all sound whiny, an undercurrent of God-what-do-You-want-now? feel to them. Perhaps a diet one day of fruits and vegetables might turn my priestlike guts into the guts of a pornographer. Tonight I'll see if my wife will accept a different sacrament.
Lightning might come from my fingertips and burn down the church. Written words are lightning. I could burn you where you stand. So stand back.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
And bringing behind, like the Pied Piper: a pair of lovely spaniels equipped with their own lovely family; two quiet young men born with guitars in their hands; a pair of pretty blondes -- two tight friends; a bird who turned into a poet; a willowy lady with a side ponytail; a big-hearted bearded young man with a salty word already busting forth.
Out of the chalk drawings of Mount Revere and into the town of Mount Vernon and straight here, to this theater, the Goatsinger brings them to you.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Monday, May 09, 2011
Up in the morning before the dawn – splashing off the porch and on to a wet sidewalk, running under stars dancing like children.
Up in the morning before the dawn: there are folks asleep – a tall, intense father with a gentle voice, his long-limbed daughter asleep behind another door, or the bearded songwriter with the wild voice and his anger at the world he loves so much. Or the out-of-town poet with the quick tongue and remembered song – she sits awake in the darkness somewhere, wondering about cigarettes and street signs, remembering moments and music.
Up in the morning before the dawn, past the pond and the frog blinking and thinking his cold amphibious thoughts and remembering a lean and mean blonde who knew all the wrong things to say at the right moment.
The goatsinger runs the darkness in the morning before the dawn, up and around the streets of his home, past library and chapel, past theater and high garden, before turning back and running, returning at last to his porch, even as the first birds wake and begin crying out their morning song.
He's brought them all here for you tonight, the goatsinger has: stars that dance like children; intense father and long-limbed daughter; angry-voiced songwriter, remembering poet, frog and lean-mean blonde.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Both my parents worked at the John Deere tractor factory in Waterloo, Iowa when I was growing up. What this meant was that during the summer, I was left completely alone and un-attended.
Which is great when you're a kid in the summertime.
We lived outside a small Iowa town -- almost an even mile -- and when I was fifteen it was an awkward place to be. There wasn't much to do and I found myself wasting lots of summer days. My older brother worked as a cashier in town at the drugstore and I used to hassle him that someday I was going to come riding into a town and rob him blind, just to embarrass him.
One morning found me outside hunting squirrels with a water pistol. Now, this was back when you could get a water pistol that was actually shaped like a real gun rather than a bubbly-looking spacegun like you get nowadays -- although, they were still clear and primary-colored. Squirrels are quick and react generally the same way each time you squirt them, and all though it was really really hilarious at first, I did finally get bored with it.
You ever hear how John Dillinger once faked his way out of jail by carving a gun-shape out of a piece of wood and then blacking it with shoe-polish? Plastic will actually hold shoe polish as well. It actually makes a bright-yellow Browning look pretty good. So I painted up my water pistol, wrapped the handle in black electrical tape, put it in a bag so I wouldn't be seen carrying it down the road, and headed into town, whistling.
I waited until I knew the store was empty of customers and I could see my brother through the side-glass window, at the register. Then I burst in, brandishing my pistol.
"Don't move!" I shouted. "This is a stick up!"
My brother just shook his head, until I squirted him a good one. Then he got a bit angry.
I grabbed a Fantastic Four comic book and a pack of Bubble Yum bubblegum and told my brother to just go ahead and count to a hundred "real slow like." Then I backed out of the door, waving my scary-looking squirt gun.
Then I went to the city park, jammed all five pieces of gum into my mouth, and read my comic book.
Twenty minutes later one of our town's Finest pulled into the park. I knew him. I actually sat next to his son during choir. He got out, hiked up his britches around his big middle and strode over to me.
"Mike," he said.
I spit out my bubblegum. "Officer Woodyard," I said back.
"Understand there was some excitement over at the drugstore," Woodyard said.
"Yep," I said. "I robbed the place blind."
He almost grinned but didn't.
"Well," he said, "your brother paid for your loot and the pharmacist, Mr. Schmitz, he didn't seem too worried about it."
"That's good," I said.
"But," he said, then sighed. "Mr. Schmitz says you was waving around a gun. Is that right?"
"Yeah," I said.
"That's a problem," Woodyard said. "Do you still have it?"
I pulled it out of the bag.
"Sure," I said. "Here it is."
Officer Woodyard stepped forward and took it, then looked at me.
"This is plastic," he said.
"Right," I said back. "I've never held a real gun in my life."
Woodyard sighed again.
"Well," he said, "I'm going to have to take you home. We contacted your dad and he's on his way."
This was a surprise. Contacting my father at Deere was something I didn't know was possible. I thought it was a phone call that routed through three offices, down to the assembly floor, through a foreman, and then down the line. For all I knew, they stopped the assembly line if someone walked away from his position. And now he was coming home? This didn't bode well.
My old man had a list of chores made up in his head on the way home that kept me working around the house and acreage for three weeks, then he walked around and made me write up another list of things that occurred to him as he saw them that added another week of work on top of it.
Then he said, "Next year, you get a job."
When I turned nineteen I bought my first guitar. The first song I learned was a Beatles song, the next three songs I learned I wrote myself. This was one of those.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
A man and a woman
A man and a woman and a blackbird
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.