Happy May Day

You hear that sound, the rain is coming down
It says there’s a ripeness setting in
The children spin around ’til they crash into the ground
Singing “Welcome Home Forever Once Again”

And when you hear the spirit’s call
There ain’t no use to fight
And if you want to reap tomorrow, you better sow your seed tonight
You better sow your seed tonight

You feel that fire lift your body higher
An old, old dance is growing here
Better kiss me soon while the blossoms are in bloom
Or you might just have to wait another year

And when you hear the spirit’s call
There ain’t no use to fight
And if you want to reap tomorrow, you better sow your seed tonight
You better sow your seed tonight

You feel that beet, come on, move your feet
Old man winter’s dead and gone
There’ll be wiggling of the toes, there’ll be taking off of clothes
There’ll be silly naked dancing on the lawn

And when you hear the spirit’s call
There ain’t no use to fight
And if you want to reap tomorrow, you better sow your seed tonight
You better sow your seed tonight

— Jason Webley, “May Day”

You all can have your Jonathan Coulton and your Justin Timberlake. When it comes to May Day songs, I’m partial to Jason Webley.

And when you hear the spirit’s call
There ain’t no use to fight
And if you want to reap tomorrow,
you better sow your seed tonight…

Jason Webley Elevanniversary

Poster for Jason's 11th Anniversary ShowLast night, Prairie and I went out to see Jason Webley’s Elevanniversary show, our first Webley show in a few years. We’d been skipping them lately, but between this being his eleventh anniversary show, having it at Seattle’s Town Hall (a venue we really like), and the guest list he’d lined up, we decided this was one we wanted to see. In the end, while it wasn’t our all-time favorite Webley show, it was still good, (mostly) a lot of fun, and we’re glad we went. I took a few pictures during the course of the night, and they’ll be up eventually, but as we sat towards the back and I was more interested in just enjoying the show, it won’t be among my most comprehensive sets of Webley documentation. I’m sure you’ll all survive. :)

We headed downtown a little early, in order to make sure we got a good parking space close to Town Hall and have time to get dinner before the show. Parking successfully obtained, we wandered down to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner, after stopping off to get a few pictures of what little is left of the Alfaretta Apartments at 8th and Seneca. As crappy as that building was, I liked my little apartment there, and it was where I was living when Prairie and I first met, so it was a little sad to see it reduced to just a few walls and a lot of rubble. After dinner we spent a while wandering around Barnes and Noble, talking each other out of spending money on new books when there are so many good used books available far cheaper, and then headed back up the hill to Town Hall.

There was already a small crowd of people milling about when we returned to Town Hall, and it wasn’t long before a table was set up to process those of us who had will call tickets waiting. (A quick aside: I’ve got to give props, this was by far the most organized and prompt Webley show we’d ever been to. Getting our tickets only took a few minutes, the doors to the lobby actually opened at, and perhaps slightly before, the scheduled 7:30pm, we got into the house and found our seats by 7:45, and the lights dimmed to begin the show at 8:05. Impressive!) Tickets in hand, we waited for the doors to open, and ended up spending a pleasant few minutes chatting with Paco, a burlesque performer from Baltimore who was in town for the weekend to visit Seattle and see the Elevanniversary show.

Once in the auditorium, Prairie and I grabbed seats towards the back of the house on the assumption that most rowdiness would be towards the front, and this would make it easier to dodge overexcited fans later on. As we were all entering and finding our seats, Seattle’s Orkestar Zirkonium was providing entrance music, their euro-klezmer-ish style setting a good tone for the evening to come, as balloons both big and small bounced around the room and Jason’s ever-present goddesses danced and twirled through the aisles.

The show itself was divided roughly in half, with the first half devoted to Jason’s friends and collaborators doing short sets on their own, and Jason coming out for the second half. This ended up having some definite pros and cons: on the plus side, we got some more exposure to the people Jason’s been working with over the past few years, all of whom had quite enjoyable sets; however that also meant that Jason himself had a somewhat abbreviated setlist, and many of the quieter, more introspective songs that Prairie and I enjoy so much were passed over in favor of the louder, more exciting, get-everyone-bouncing-around songs. As fun as those are — and plenty of people were quite rightfully enjoying them — we’re just not quite so bouncy, and missed hearing some of our old favorites. Still, different shows have different intents, and this minor grousing shouldn’t at all be taken to mean that we didn’t enjoy ourselves!

Anyway, the first guest performer up was Andru Bemis, who worked with Jason on the How Big is Tacoma EP, with three of his own songs. Jay Thompson (of Eleven Saints fame) read a few poems for us, then the Rev. Peyton came on (though without his Big Damn Band). Some of Jason’s goddesses did a silly Billy Joel “We Didn’t Start the Fire”-inspred pseudo-retrospective of Jason’s career, accompanied by only a big bass drum. Then the last guest performer, and for many people in the audience the most eagerly anticipated, Amanda Palmer, of both Dresden Dolls and solo fame, not to mention her work with Jason and Evelyn Evelyn.

After Amanda’s set, we were treated (after some slight technical issues) to a short, four-minute edit of video from Jason’s first public performance from eleven years ago, featuring songs from his first album, Viaje. It was fun to see — younger, shorter hair, a bit more unfinished, but definitely Jason.

After the video, out came Jason, along with his usual bandmates Alex (Sprout) Guy, Jherek Bischoff, and Michael McQuilken. They did a few of Jason’s songs (including possibly my favorite-ever rendition of Goodbye Forever, Once Again), and then he invited his guest performers up one-by-one to perform songs from their collaborative EPs. Before his collaborators started joining him, though, Jason invited onstage one of the first people to welcome Jason into the world of busking when he started all those years ago, Seattle legend Artis the Spoonman, who joined Jason for an incredible performance. Then, Jason’s co-conspirators: Andru, then Rev. Peyton, then Amanda. After this there was the one “WTF?” moment of the night for us — a short, bizarre, techno-Devo-ish piece that just seemed odd and out of place. Perhaps there was an in-joke that Prairie and I have missed out on, but it pretty much just confirmed for us that Jason doesn’t have much of a future in the rave scene.

Next up came a short word about Sunday’s Camp Tomato, along with indoctrinating (or, for many of us, re-indoctrinating) us all into the Tomato Scouts, with both the Tomato Scout Oath and the Tomato Scout Song. Jason read a sweet short story about a boy with a dream of feathers, boats, balloons, tomatoes, and lots of friends, only to wake up to find that the dream was still ongoing, and then he started inviting more performers on stage. Alex, Jherek and Michael came back on stage, joined by a string trio of two cellos and one violin; after a few songs, they were joined by the Orkestar Zirkonium; shortly afterwards, Jay Thompson came on for “Eleven Saints“.

Many more balloons were launched, both big and small, people got up and danced in the aisles, and the marionette version of Jason from a few years back floated around the room underneath big red balloons. Finally, Jason and company launched into “Music That Tears Itself Apart“, arms stretched upwards, fingers waggled, arms slowly dropped down, and much mass tickling was accomplished, and then finally, the concert was at an end.

Though there was a giant tomato cake over in Freeway Park, Prairie and I were ready to head home, and so we wandered up the two blocks to the car, leaving the post-show festivities to the younger, more energetic set, while we worked our way home and fell into bed.

Happy Elevanniversary, Jason. We’re glad we could be there.

Birthday Bits

So I turn 36 on Sunday. Pretty sure I can still claim “mid-30’s” at this point, though I’m getting perilously close to the “late-30’s.”

Upcoming or recent birthday-related bits include:

  1. Prairie and I getting bikes. This has been awesome. We’re both very glad that we decided to do this for my birthday, and that we went ahead and did it early, a few weeks ago.

  2. On Sunday, I’ll be losing the ponytail and sending it off to Locks of Love. This will mark six years since I decided that if I ever wanted to have long hair again, I better start growing it out now. I shaved my head one last time on my 30th birthday, then started letting it grow, and outside of a few trims to take care of split ends, have just let my hair grow since then. As the hairline goes and the forehead grows, though, it’s time to dodge the skullet bullet and shave it all back down again.

  3. Also on Sunday, we’ll be going to the zoo to see the brand-new penguin exhibit. H, P, and N will be joining us. Penguins yay!

  4. On Friday the 8th we’re going to the 7pm showing of the new Star Trek movie. Set phasers to ‘awesome’ (I hope…advance word is looking pretty good though).

  5. At some as-yet unspecified Saturday night in mid- to late-May, I’ll be heading down to Vogue Night. It won’t really be a birthday party as much as my monthly “gotta get out and bounce” night, but if someone were to say hello and perhaps spot me a drink, I doubt I’d complain.

  6. On July 3rd we’re going to Jason Webley‘s 11-year Extravaganza concert at Seattle’s Town Hall. This is very exciting for both of us. For a number of years, Jason did two big shows a year, one in fall and one in spring, which would always be very close to either my birthday or Prairie’s (which is Nov. 3rd, exactly six months after mine). It’s been a few years since we’ve been to any of his shows, though, as he’s been playing venues more suited to his younger, more energetic crowd, and as we’d prefer to sit in the back and enjoy the show rather than getting pushed about and stepped on (not intentionally or in a mean way, just the kind of thing that happens in a club show atmosphere) by rambunctious young’uns, we’ve been less inclined to head down to his more recent Seattle-area shows. Town Hall works very well for everyone, though — the kids get to bounce around in front of the stage, and us old fogies get to sit in the back and enjoy the music and show — so we’re looking forward to this.

And that’s everything I can think of.

And, of course, the annual bit of shameless greed*: on the off chance that someone should feel all birthday present-ish, feel free to poke around at my Amazon wishlists (helpfully categorized into photography, audiovisual, literary, gadgets, and other) or just hit the PayPal button on my about page and contribute to my Nikon D700 fund. ;)

* Disclaimer: this is mostly tongue-in-cheek, the economy sucks, and I expect nothing except perhaps some rolling of eyes and gentle mocking. Hugs and/or kind words are always acceptable birthday presents. Still, you never know what might happen, and it can’t hurt to toss the idea out there, right?

Gaiman, Webley, and Toasty Tuckuses

Nifty randomness of the day: seeing Neil Gaiman quote and promote Jason Webley (by way of someone posting the video to Eleven Saints).

Nifty plan for the afternoon: three movies have been rented (Clerks 2, Scoop, and Slither), much warm finger food has been purchased, and the couch has been covered with an electric blanket so we’ve got a warm place to sit as we spend a quiet evening at home.

11 Saints Release Concert

Okay…it’s finally time to take a few minutes break from math and play catch-up on this weekend.

Eleven SaintsFriday night was the concert for the release of Eleven Saints, Jason Webley‘s latest release, written collaboratively with Jay Thompson.

I showed up at The Paradox about an hour early, as Jason’s big shows tend to get pretty full pretty quickly. Only a few people were there quite that early, though, so I started wandering around and taking a few shots. Only a few minutes later, a girl sitting against the building said, “I think I know who you are.” Turns out she’d recognized me from my prior Webley photos and from the forum on Jason’s site, so I plopped down and we chatted while waiting for the doors to open.

Little JasonA bit after eight the doors opened, and we all (the line had grown to extend around the street corner by now) worked our way into the Paradox. Carrie (the girl I’d been chatting with) went on in to find a place to sit, while I wandered between the lobby and the auditorium watching people trickle in. chrismathewsjr brought along the Jason doll that he’d rescued after it floated away at the end of the 2003 Deathday show, which was fun to see again — I’m thrilled that that piece of Webley history didn’t end up disappearing into the Sound or some similar fate after we all sent it floating into the sky.

Eventually the hall started getting pretty full, so I figured it’d be a good time to find a place for myself. As I was heading in, an older gentleman caught my attention. “Excuse me,” he asked, “are you the guy who takes all those photos of Jason at the shows?” “Probably so,” I agreed — while I’m certainly not the only one to show up camera in hand (Josh, for instance, has photo archives dating back to 2001), I was lucky enough to have my Camp Tomato 2005 set mentioned in Jason’s e-mail alert about this weekend’s activities. “I just wanted to say thank you,” he said. “I’m Jason’s dad, and we love that you’re doing this.” Pretty cool, I thought.

Boo! Boo, say the goddesses!Pretty soon, the show got started, with Alex Xavier the Eleventh (last seen getting pelted with tomatoes at the end of last year’s Halloween show after trying to kill Jason) taking the stage to perform the introductions — though he was soon brought to a halt by the four Goddesses rushing on stage and urging us all to boo Alex away. They were soon stopped by Jason, who came on stage to explain that over the winter, he and Alex had talked and come to an understanding: Alex could be a little bit more good…and Jason could be just a little bit more evil. And with that, Alex finished welcoming us all to the show, and Jason took the stage.

Oh, Look! Lemons!This was a fairly different show from previous springtime shows. As Jason has completed his death/rebirth cycle and isn’t releasing a full-length album this year, the show ended up a little more random. Jason started off with a couple songs (initially declaring that since he hadn’t really written anything new, he was just going to perform all of the Footloose soundtrack on accordion…and even did a few verses of three or four songs from the movie), then introduced Jeff Harms to do a short set. Many of Jeff’s songs are silly little short pieces about random objects, dolls he’s seen in a store, lemons that have gone bad, and so on. During the song about lemons, he brought a couple friends out who sat on stage, scratched the peel off of some lemons, then tossed them out to the crowd, introducing “the first scratch-and-sniff song.”

Once Jeff was done, Jason came back — though instead of more music, we were treated (after some amusing technical difficulties) to a couple of videos. The first was an amusingly maudlin short film by Andy Brodie that Jason had written the music for, as well as having a small part as a funeral home embalmer. After that came a fifteen minute documentary about Jason that had been filmed over the winter in London by Charlotte Ross while Jason was on tour.

Jay ThompsonJason then announced that he had one more video to show us, but to break up the monotony, Jay Thompson was going to spend a few minutes reading us some of his poetry. Jay came on stage and spent about fifteen minutes reading a number of short pieces, one of which even included a mathematical formula — I don’t remember what it was anymore, but it was rather impressive that he was able to work that into a spoken word piece.

Eleven Saints VideoOnce Jay was done, it was time for one of the highlights of the evening: the premier of the video for ‘Eleven Saints’, the title track of the new EP. It’s a really fun video — it’s done in the same cutout stop-motion animation style of the pre-concert video at his 2004 Halloween Show, and hopefully it’ll be posted to the ‘net at some point in the near future (Jason alluded to such, it’s just a matter of watching for it to show up either on his site, his MySpace page, or perhaps other 18 [sites]19), as trying to describe it just wouldn’t really do it justice.

Ellie and JasonOnce the video was done, Jay came back onstage, and he and Jason did a couple more songs from the EP (and from its accompanying bonus CD), including ‘Big Old Spool’, which featured disco dancers onstage and the Tomato Goddess being rolled into the auditorium balancing on a big old spool. Jay then left, and Jason was joined for a few songs by Ellie, the granddaughter of Jason’s friend Joan, who is the inspiration for the song ‘Goodnight, Joan’. I must admit, I was quite taken by their slow, acoustic guitar and voice, ballad version of Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’!

Tomato Scout OathOnce Ellie left the stage, the rest of Jason’s band came up along with Jay and the Goddesses to lead us in the Tomato Scout Oath and the Tomato Scout Anthem. Next came ‘Eleven Saints’, which got the crowd all riled up and set the tone for the rest of the evening — Jason’s usual blend of silliness, mayhem…and mess. Bags of bright red balloons were opened and tossed into the crowd, pillows were ripped open to send feathers flying, a boat was passed hand-over-hand over the crowd, and finally, tomatoes went flying through the air.

Spin!Jason and Jay donned sunglasses as they played the silly techno-ish song ‘Story of Boy’, then had the band lay down a disco-ish beat so that they could keep the dance club theme going as they segued into a club “remix” version of the ‘Drinking Song’! Soon they had the whole room spinning in circles, throwing their arms ’round each others shoulders, and swaying back and forth to the final chorus.

And not much later, after a few last mentions of Saturday’s second annual Camp Tomato, the music wound down, Jason and the band left the stage, and we all filed back out into the evening air — many of us to gather again at Woodland Park the next day.

That, however, is another post entirely.

In the meantime, here’s my full photoset for the concert.

iTunesRamblin’ Blues” by Jason Webley with Jay Thompson from the album Eleven Saints (2006, 3:16).

No Woman, No Fly

Just added to the Jason Webley Bootlegs collection: No Woman, No Fly (5.1Mb .mp3). The audio quality isn’t the greatest (with Jason’s penchant for going from soft to screaming in nanoseconds, the recording’s a bit overdriven in places), but it’s up.

Thanks to usernamenumber for posting the .mp3, and to RobTav63 for help with the lyrics.

Lyrics follow behind the cut.

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