HOMEGROWN COFFEE HOUSE, ACCOKEEK, MARYLAND. February 3, 2003. My first real show in quite a long time, and with two full sets clocking in at a whopping two hours of wall-to-wall Viper. You can see the full set list here.
The show was most notable for the rocking-the-mic debut of my daughter, Irene, now just a few weeks over three years old, who handled herself with remarkable aplomb and a stage presence well beyond her years as she shouted out the “Interjections!” in the Lynn Ahrens song of that name.
The covers I played all dated from 1968-1974 and included songs by Norman Greenbaum, Harry Nilsson, Melanie Safka, Badfinger, Tom Lehrer, a number of Joe Raposo’s songs for The Electric Company, and one song from each of Tiny Tim’s first three records. Aside from the songs having in common a historical overlap with my first six, formative years on this mortal coil, they all share a post-Beatles rock aesthetic played against the use of pre-rock – and even pre-swing – pop song forms and arrangements (or is it vice versa?) joined to a Gertrude-Steinian interest in imploding language, melody, and harmony at their simplest, morphemic level. Well, you knew that.
This show also featured a number of newly-completed songs from The Viper’s work-in-progress House Un-American Activies Committee musical, Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been…Blue?, including the eponymous love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name duet intended for Roy Cohn and Langston Hughes; a new barbershop ballad titled “Sing a Song of Texas” to be sung by first HUAC chair Martin Dies; the Sterling Hayden showcase, “My Seafaring Lassie”; and at least one song yet to be placed, the embarassingly folk revivally “Time of the Leaving.” Oh, and my own Schoolhouse Rock-type bid at mnemonic education, the song that promises to teach you the names of the Hollywood 10, “And Sometimes Dmytryk.”