Posts tagged: Mark Alan

Shipe Tour Day 2: Pleasant Surprises in Coeur D’Alene (Moon Time)

I’ve been playing Moon Time for 15 years, and I never discovered the hiking trail along the lake until this this afternoon!?

20-minute lakeside jog, followed by a shower, a Moon Time Lamb-burger, load-in, set-up, a dollar pint of pale ale, and I inconspicuously launched into Mark Alan’s “Don’t Pass Montgomery By.”

I say, “inconspicuously,” because, as I have blogged so many times before, Moon Time is one of the loudest busiest of the dinner venues. Hardly anyone faces the stage; few are there specifically for the music. It’s dollar pint night in a place where people come to converse. I’ve learned not to fight it, and to start the night by blending and easing into their space. I would appear positively silly if I busted into my “show” with: “Hey everybody! How ya doin’ tonight! I am John Shipe! All the way from Eugene, Oregon! I’m here to rock you!”

“Montgomery” is a good opener in this atmosphere. It’s simple, with a steady, deep groove — even acoustically — when I play it right. Feels good, especially when I’m in the gospel-ish vein. Whether they end up riveted or not, they get the idea that I’m a solid decent singer & player — at the very least, they’ll appreciate the professionalism.

Another surprise: a friend & former guitar student of mine, who just happens to be the area, showed up out of the blue. I love it when this happens. (It does, more often than you would think.) Familiar faces mean a lot to traveling musicians. I discard my set list when old friends show up, and play any Shipe song they want to hear. The performance obviously improves, ’cause I have someone relate to. And this probably had something to do with the entire room being more responsive than usual.

Among the more attentive patrons was another Eugene musician, Matt Buetow, with a night off from tour with his band The Royal Blue. I am listening right now to a beautiful song of theirs called “December.” (When I get back home I will see them live.)

It’s funny; we performers can always tell which audience members are musicians. This used to make me nervous, until I realized that, for the most part, fellow musicians can be the most generous listeners of all. So I thank Matt and his CDA friend Jeff — and my friend Gina — for giving me some love at Moon Time.

Skinheads in Albany? Mark Alan’s song is still relevant

I was in the middle of my set last night at Calapooia Brewing in Albany. A fine place to set up in a corner and play original acoustic tunes. I like this gig, I recommend it for my brewery-gig colleagues.

But there was a bit of surprise. In walked a group of 6 or 7 guys, a few of them with shaved heads. Tattoos, leather, patches, black denim, chains and belts, etc. A quite normal assortment of styles that you see in most of the venues I play in. But I love tattoos, and I love patches, and I tend to gawk closely at such adornments. I couldn’t help noticing that these patches and tattoos were SS Lightning Badges, Parteiadler Eagles, and Swastikas. Striking, to say the least.

Normally, when I see this, I am fairly unfazed. A little bit fascinated. I think to myself, do these people really exist anymore? It seems like the tide of history would have swept them away by now. But another thing I couldn’t help noticing was that the next song on my set list was Mark Alan’s “Don’t Pass Montgomery By.”

At that moment, I was playing “Lightning Rod,” a fairly aggressive, funky acousto-rowdy number about televangelists. And Skinheads being music lovers (as I hear), they were paying pretty close attention. As I wound up the outro-vamp of “Lightning Rod,” I begin to wonder what was going to happen when I started singing Mark’s lyrics, which come right out of a Martin Luther King speech. Especially when I get to the part: “They gotta word for a black man/They gotta word for a Brown man…” And the chorus: “Open up your eyes/See the ugly face of hate/They only want to hide/From their ignorance and fear.”

A lot can go through your mind in 10-20 seconds. Here’s what went through mine:

Read more »

Shipe & Ebbage at Eichardt’s

By day, Eichardt’s is a fine restaurant, with a quiet clientele that makes you think you’ll be playing soft folk ballads for calm people. (Not a bad prospect, for this tour is much about introducing Ehren’s album, with all its sweet music, to the music fans of the North Idaho corridor.) But, at night, by the time you get sound checked and ready to play, Eichardt’s turns into a bar. There were quite a few noisy people who were unsusceptible to our finesse, intricate composition, and emotional crooning. We were pulling out our rockers quite a bit more than we thought. A woman from the audience actually came up to us and asked us to turn up, furtively pointing to the noisy fellows at the bar.
Anytime we’re asked to turn up, that’s a good thing, and we’re happy to oblige.
Strangely, though, as raucous as some of the audience seemed to be, we were complimented on our lyrics of all things. All night, they kept coming up to us: “Which one of you writes your lyrics?” (So they were listening after all, even those guys with their backs to us, who at one point seemed even to be heckling us.)
Incidently, we both write the lyrics. If E-dog is singing, he wrote it. If I’m singing, I wrote it. Unless it’s a Jerry Joseph song, or a Mark Alan song.
At last I’m getting inside the lap steel on Ebbage’s tunes. Fewer mistakes and juicier melodies. This is important, ’cause there is something about that instrument that turns an ear with just one note. I can see why Ehren tries to play with pedal steel players at nearly every gig. You don’t have to do much with it; just fade in a sweet chord tone at the right time, give it a little vibrato, and make it sing.