Posts tagged: Moon Time

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.

Shipe @ Moon Time, CDA (8/4)

The management and staff at Moon Time in Coeur D’Alene treat touring artists better than any other similar venue.

It has been a while since I’ve been here. New faces. (Lex, I missed you!)

I forgot how noisy this gig is. Probably the noisiest venue I play. A line from my song “Honky Tonk Romans” comes to mind:

“I was singing just like a bird / But nobody heard my beautiful words / I must looked and sounded so absurd.

However, as I’ve said a hundred times before, noisy crowds are listening more closely than they appear. Invariably, I discover afterwards that they’ve heard things in surprising detail. Specific songs, lyrics, musical passages. So I never give a lazy performance… no matter what.

The sight may seem bizarre — a singer-songwriter in a dimly-lit raised section of a noisy drinking/restaurant establishment, pushing it out like his life depended on it. I’m sure there are few hipsters who find it almost comical, misinterpreting my earnestness as desperation. But I keep the between-song stage banter to a minimum, let the music do the talking, and folks show their appreciation.

Certain songs grab them. (This is how I know they’re listening.) The tune that turned heads last night? “Jesus.”

It’s a new one. And I don’t quite understand why it has become a hit. At every single show, I am approached: “Which album is that ‘Jesus’ song on?”

Essentially, “that Jesus song” is a twist on Appalachian hillstompin’ Gospel. I wanted to call it “A More In-Your-Face Jesus” (a phrase I lifted from an article I read about a painter in the South who depicts a Savior sporting a mullet, with tattoos & piercings and muscle — the kind of messiah that children could look up to as an ass-kicking hero… instead of that ineffectual gentle shepherd who said “suffer the little children to come unto me.)

I chose not to title it so sardonically; I never want to come across as making fun of anybody. (If there is humor in a satirical piece, such humor is more effective when borne upon honest affection for the subject.)

The lyrical content is a strident, machismo warning about the head-rolling that’s bound to happen when the Messiah returns pissed off. It’s a lot of fun to perform, I tell ya! I mean to offend nobody. And if anyone does get offended, I just hope they can take a moment to think about what it is we artists do. We tell stories. We put on characters. We have fun indulging in language and scenarios that strike our imagination.

I like to think of this song as my All in the Family moment. Do you remember that sitcom from the 70’s? Archie Bunker was a hilarious character. Liberal progressives and cultural activists laughed at his bigotry as satire. To them, he looked utterly, ridiculously ignorant — a clear portrayal of the banality of reactionary prejudice. For rightwingers and reactionaries, Archie “told it like it is,” putting liberals like “Meathead” their place with poignant working class expressions of frustration in a changing world.

In retrospect, we all know the correct take on Carrol O’Conner’s portrayal. But at the time, everybody was happy. My conservative dad liked him. My liberal mom loved to hate him. And the network had a long-running hit.

So, what I have here is a tune that gives some people a laugh at the satire they find in it. Others — folks who are “believers” —are free to enjoy the song as a strangely executed twist on Appalachian Gospel. They are welcome to. I see no reason why not. It’s always best when I perform it without irony. And truth be told, the “more-in-your-face-Jesus” is a character right out of some preachers’ sermons. I didn’t make Him up.

Shipe on Coeur D’Alene Moon Time

Woke this morning to see that “Honky Tonk Romans” is on a playlist I haven’t seen yet: Barely Darker Than Air. A good resource for East Coast community.

Last night was one of my better Moon Time gigs. The place was packed. (Iron Man Triathalon is in town.) Even though they were typically noisy on Dollar-Pint Night, they were listening. applauding after every song, tipping, making requests, and buying CD’s. I tested their attentiveness by directly soliciting tips–announcing that my local hotel of choice had raised its rates by 40 percent. They responded. I would not have done this had I not been sure that I was playing well, already making a warm connection by virtue of the performance. One does not resort to playing on the audience’s sympathies for the poor starving traveling troubadour. One only asks for voluntary compensation after providing solid entertainment. (Speaking of compensation, I thank Moon Time for paying their solo artists well. It’s always a reassuring way to start a tour. And the comped meal is spectacular.)

I mentioned that folks were making requests…

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Shipe & Ebbage at Moon Time

Ah, much better. Even though we were incredibly underslept from the late night before at John’s Alley, Ehren & and I pulled out the energy for Moon Time in Coeur D’Alene. I am reminded of one the magic secret ingredients of live music–Volume!

The P.A. system we carry around has no monitors. But the Moon Time has a flat wall behind the bar, pretty close to us in front of the stage. So we crank that system up, hacking away at our rocker tunes, like “Road Story,” “I’m not Sorry,” and Jerry Joseph’s “World Will Turn.” Andthe sound bounces back at us, guitars and voices blended in a beautiful swirly wash. (Oh, those poor bar tenders!)

Funny, the Moon Time is a small intimate place, with all the makings of quiet acoustic venue. (While John’s Alley is a big ole wood & concrete tavern suitable for kicking ass.) But Moon Time is a talkative audience on Thursday–Dollar Microbrew Pint Night. This puts us acoustic folkie-singer-songwriter-troubadors in a potentially awkward postition, especially with Ebbage’s high ballad-to-rocker ratio. (All those sweet love songs.) But you have to trust that the crowd is listening and appreciating in their dollar-pint-night way. They don’t play the role of “audience” exactly, but you must play your set with assurance and authority nonetheless. They know when they’re hearing something of quality, even though they don’t sit with eyes glued to the stage, hanging on your every word of song-introduction. In this kind of atmosphere, you don’t waste time between songs. Keep it moving, and take advantage of those moments in the night when they do seem to want a bit of stage talk.

They never fail to show their appreciation. Always chatting us up between sets and after the show, buying CD’s and getting on the mailing list.

And thank god I finally bot my lap steel act together, making myself more welcome on those lovely Ebbage tunes.