Living in a remote place far from the cultural diversity of a larger city creates an unquenchable thirst. I grew up with regular visits to the museums of Chicago, seeing hundreds of concerts and live performances, and having access to all kinds of amazing cultural opportunities. I had no idea then how lucky I was! Now, when any unique cultural event comes up in our community, we are usually there. It doesn’t matter so much what it is, just that it is. In a way, it makes living here exciting, we’ve been to community plays, art openings, peculiar festivals, even a real Scandinavian hex burning, and we listen to community radio (even though we really don’t care for a lot of the music). You take what you can get. Though I must admit, most have been pleasant surprises.
Recently, I heard something on the community radio station while I was brushing my teeth, Robert Michael Pyle would be speaking at a grange. I was excited! Some time back, I’d read about his book in our local monthly paper, called Mariposa Road: The First Butterfly Big Year, and it was about a man chasing butterflies for science and fascination. It sounded amazing, but I’d already missed his reading when I read the article. Later, I saw the book for sale at City Lights Books while visiting San Francisco. I wanted it, but we were limited on money and riding the train so lugging around extra books was an issue. I reluctantly passed it up. Now was my chance to hear the author and try get that book!
A few days later, Shane mentioned he heard on the radio that Krist Novoselic would be performing at his local grange. It was all coming together now. We agreed we had better attend. This was exciting to us not so much because Krist Novoselic was the bass player in Nirvana, though that was cool, but because for several years we had listened enthusiastically each week to a show on our local radio community station, it was hosted by a “DJKnow”. He had a vast knowledge of music and played lots of great stuff, everything from obscure oldies to underground punk. I guess I imagined something like The Archive (https://vimeo.com/1546186). So I was shocked when Shane told me one morning after I’d gone to bed early on a Saturday night that DJ Know was actually “the other guy” in Nirvana, and he’d announced it on what would be his last show for a while. We were shocked! No more DJ Know! The second though was, damn that guy from Nirvana sure has great taste in music! This new information suddenly inched Nirvana further up the scale of Street Cred for me. I’d actually never been a much of a fan, but they’d been growing on me ever since we took a drive up to Aberdeen while listening to some obscure Nirvana cassette we got at a thrift store, it was an old one with the drummer from The Melvins on it. The perfect soundtrack for the Nirvana self guided tour.
We arrived at The Grange a while before the performance in order to check out the farmers market. It consisted of a single long table lined with piles of green stuff, the selection was small but wonderful. Sweet strawberries, huge bunches of small round beets, an heirloom Italian lettuce, piles of corn, and more!
We bought a bunch of beautiful produce and then sat down in the rows of chairs provided to await the performance. Odd music faintly permeated the room, it appeared to be coming from an ancient reel to reel tape, the sound amplified through the old wooden building via some kind of crazy custom amplifiers.
I noticed a sign saying there was cookies and bread for sale, so Shane jumped up and got a bag of cookies, they were $2 for about 6 of the best little round oatmeal cookies I have ever had! As a baker, it was obvious they were made with very fine ingredients, yet they were $2.
I had been looking for an opportunity to wear my new Fang shirt, and this seemed to be perfect, so of course I wore it proudly. Shortly after Shane and I sat down, Krist Novoselic raced up to us and asked, “Is that a Fang shirt?” “Yes, yes it is!” I said proudly. Before we could talk about the marvels of Fang he was interrupted, and that was the end of that.
The they began. Krist introduced himself and his partner, and then explained the history of the grange, how it was a meeting place for farmers, kind of a cooperative meets the Freemasons, but with labor leanings that forced them to be careful of and concerned about those who might fight against them. It was fascinating actually. There are a number of “Granges” in the area, but having grown up on the south side of Chicago I have little understanding of what a grange was, so the explanation was appreciated. He talked about the project that had led to this performance, and added “I grew the corn and potatoes”.
Robert Michael Pyle then began to talk and soon the two were going along with one reading poetry and the other playing a variety of guitars. They were also joined by another fellow about midway through. They interpreted works from others, including John Steinbeck, but the high point for me was when Robert Michael Pyle explained that next was their “Happy little tsunami poem”.
It was a very special and memorable event. When it ended we bought corn and potatoes and went next door to the Irish Pub for dinner. Just as we were finishing up dinner Robert Michael Pyle came in. We had a very interesting conversation with him, he told us how he came to be in Gray’s River, and the recent loss of his lady love. It is always good to be reminded how temporary life is, and having been married for nearly 19 years we could feel his loss. It was really a beautiful moment, a good long moment. We finally said farewell and headed back over the river.
And, here’s the topper, we were so enthralled with the performance we started to look more into Nirvana, and to our shock and surprise, we saw a video of Nirvana performing Fang’s ‘The Money Will Roll Right In’! HA! I figured Krist Novoselic would know who Fang was, I had no idea how well! Talk about a twist!
Since we talked about this performance for days now, I thought I ought to write about it here and post the photos I took. I just ordered Mariposa Road off of Amazon, I will post up about it when I am done reading it.
See more pictures from this event in my next post: http://amybugbee.com/?p=68