Category Archives: innumerable ones

Viper vice

It is hard living down the tempers we are born with. We all begin well, for in our youth there is nothing we are more intolerant of than our own sins writ large in others and we fight them fiercely in ourselves ; but we grow old and we see that these are sins are of all sins the really harmless ones to one, nay that they give a charm to any character, and so our struggle with them dies away.

— Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans

Sunday seems like a good day for some self-reflection and auditing, and specifically a good chance to take stock of those sins we might see writ large in others tomorrow evening, Monday, September 8 as The Viper and His Own Sins Writ Large in Others play on the Mickey’s Tavern patio in Madison, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

In no particular order, here is that inventory.

  • Late-night snacking
  • Generalized misanthrophy
  • Unearned morbidity and an inflated sense of existential injustice
  • Unnecessary car errands
  • Cold-blooded murder
  • Exaggeration of my vices
  • Phone phobia
  • Wrath
  • Pretending sleep to avoid dog-walking
  • Pretending to nerd status I haven’t earned
  • Ungenerous assumptions about the private lives of other a**holes on the road
  • Treating ibuprofen as a basic food group
  • Bleach stains on shirts/pants
  • Secret glove-compartment stash of M&Ms
  • Cultural co-optation
  • Making of vice lists on company time

That’s a start, anyway.

Detail of coloring contest page
Detail of coloring contest page

Set list for July 14, 2014

Here’s what you missed if you weren’t at Mickey’s Tavern in Madison last evening for our happy hour show on the back patio.

Riley Broach on the back patio at Mickey's takes a self-shot photograph-ie as The Viper contemplates the structure of the universe.
Riley Broach on the back patio at Mickey’s takes a self-shot photograph-ie as The Viper contemplates the structure of the universe.

Mickey’s sits at the center of what has to be one of the loveliest four-block radii in all of this best of all possible worlds. And The Viper and His Famous Orchestra had a lovely, radiant, best-of-all-possible world, even revolutionary time on this Bastille evening, with two Viper parents, one sister, two nieces, and several rain clouds in attendance.

It was great to see old Madison friends like Kissyfish songwriter John Papageorge, roadie Mark Kuether, and videographer John Rademacher, along with new Madisonian Anthony Burton, whose Golden Horse Ranch Band had once let the Viper sit in as a guest as part of their residency at The Whistler in Chicago (a show for which I wrote “Big Headed Small Minded Man”).

Speaking of new songs (we were speaking of that, weren’t we?) last night’s show debuted “Dirge” – a composition about decomposition – and witnessed the performative maturing of our newish “Dopamine.” John Peacock did a good job throughout on the suitcase and melodica — and you can let him know I said that.

You need more? Well, here’s the whole megillah, gorilla:

Set #1

  • Don’t Want To
  • Winnebago Bay
  • I Left My Liver in Libertyville
  • Hotzeplotz
  • Good Morning Irene
  • Body and Soul (Ludlul bel nemeqi)
  • Party Girl
  • My Seafaring Lassie
  • Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been…Blue?
  • Randolph St.
  • Curb Your Dog
  • Dopamine
  • Party in the U.S.A.

Set #2

  • Another Birthday Song
  • Sharkin’
  • Big Headed Small Minded Man
  • I Love a Girl in Moscow
  • Bled-a-loe Lang-de-lang
  • Stopper in My Hand
  • Tavern in the Town
  • Dirge
  • Ukulele Rhythm
  • Hey! Rounders
  • Whispering
  • Make a World Brand New

Come and see us when we’ll play another Monday happy hour on Mickey’s patio on August 11. And if you can’t wait that long, come and see us at the Madison Children’s Museum Adult Swim: Summer Speakeasy on Friday night, July 25.

Set list for Martyrs’ – Jan. 11, 2014

humptyA great time was had by all at Sousaphenia 3 at Martyrs’ in Chicago, and The Viper and His Famous Orchestra kept good company with Environmental Encroachment, Bassel & The Supernaturals, and the 4 Star Brass Band. We’ll be back in Chicago on Jan. 25 to play at the Uncommon Ground on Devon, along with Jack & Ace. So come and see us there — it’ll be an event!.

We played the following songs at Martyrs’, two of which (“Bled-a-Loe Lang-de-lang” and “Hotzeplotz Calls”) saw their debut at this show (extra points if you can spot the typo in the image of the set-list at the bottom of the page):

  • The Fillmore & Buchanan March
  • Bled-a-loe Lang-de-lang
  • Hotzeplotz Calls
  • Good Morning Irene
  • My Seafaring Lassie
  • The Monsters Are Coming
  • Heartbreak for Beginners
  • Stopper in My Hand
  • I Left My Liver in Libertyville set-list-jan-11

Set list for September 3, 2010

As a sneak preview of what we’re likely to play at our upcoming Pygmalion set (Saturday, September 25, Mike ‘N’ Molly’s in Champaign, Illinois), here’s what The Viper and His Famous Orchestra played recently at a welcome back happy hour for graduate assistants at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, hosted on Friday evening, September 3 by the Rob Henn-affiliated Teaching Assistants’ Association.

Set #1

  • I Left My Liver in Libertyville
  • Big Headed Small Minded Man
  • Winnebago Bay
  • Sharkin’
  • My Seafaring Lassie
  • Ich Bin Berlin (The Sundown Song)
  • Das Kapital
  • One Big Union
  • Ballad of the Henry 55
  • Whispering

Set #2

  • First Round Polka
  • Randolph St.
  • Sharkin’
  • Party in the U.S.A.
  • Stopper in My Hand
  • Last Call Waltz

We played in the Tripp Commons room on the 2nd floor of the Memorial Union. And playing there, as well as trawling through the bowels and the freight elevators of the Union, brought back lots of memories of my time as an undergraduate and a Union rat in Madison. Painful, awful memories. Thanks a lot, T.A.A.!

Set list for July 11, 2010

In our final of four Illinois shows for the weekend of July 9-11 (see the previous three posts for more), The Viper and His Famous Orchestra (minus Edward Burch, by this point on his way to St. Louis) played two sets on a Sunday afternoon at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in Champaign. (Facebook photos here.)

It’s a great space: the museum is housed in the two-story lobby of a beautiful vaudeville palace (currently undergoing restoration) that once was on the Orpheum circuit (later the O in RKO). Don Gerard tells us that he saw Jaws here during its first run in 1976. Now that’s talking about sharkin’.

Here’s what we played:

SET 1

  • The Viper’s Blue Yodel no. 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd
  • Stopper in My Hand
  • Party in the U.S.A.
  • Sharkin’
  • My Seafaring Lassie

SET 2

  • First Round Polka
  • Ich Bin Berlin (The Sundown Song)
  • Dance Any Way You Want To
  • Uncle Bud
  • Randolph St.

Surprisingly, Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” seemed far less familiar to this pint-sized crowd than in had to the 30-to-40 somethings who listened to us do it on Friday night in Chicago (see video above). Go figure.

Between sets, we led a workshop upstairs on building instruments. The Viper & Riley Broach showed how to put a washtub bass together and play it. Kip Rainey demonstrated the wax paper & comb kazoo. Rob Henn manned the jugs. Victor Cortez and John Peacock showed how to build shakers, play the suitcase, and create drum mallets out of superballs — like bumbles, they bounce.

Then during the second set, my daughter, Irene, led a raffle at which a lucky boy named Lev went home with the kid-sized washtub bass we’d built in the workshop. He even played with us for a double-washtub-bass performance of “Uncle Bud.” Congratulations, Lev!