For the third of four performances in Illinois over the weekend of July 9-11, The Viper and His Famous Orchestra brought their 7-piece sound to the beer garden at Mike N’ Molly’s in Champaign, following the solo/mixed set by Edward Burch, there to launch the new Jay Bennett album, Kicking at the Perfumed Air (see jaybennett.org), and all following the Champaign Music Festival at which Hum rocked for Champaign’s 150th Anniversary (John Peacock preferred the band with horns on the other stage; and I suppose you’d have preferred an astronaut.
When he was doing his own in-store appearance at Exile on Main Street record store in Champaign, Illinois, Edward Burch was kind enough to invite me to join him. To a ravenous crowd of 1-3 at any given time, we brought it. Aside from the songs on which I harmonized in Edward’s set (“Second Last Call,” etc.), here’s what The Viper played.
Sing a Song of Texas
Good Morning Irene
They’re Knocking Down Our Home
The Best Things in Life Are Free
In response to the photo above, posted to facebook, John Peacock wrote:
Ryan’s best look ever!
To which I replied:
Ryan here: yes, from the flattened American Girl cap, to the hanging ties on the orange shirt, to the black socks pulled all the way up, to the look on my face that suggests I don’t know I’m standing behind a microphone, I have definitely got it going on. Wonder why Ed didn’t wear shorts?
It may be this photo that inspired the 7th Day Adventist diet that I’ve been following since.
Two Fridays past, we played a “secret” show (i.e., one we didn’t publicize) for a small but enthusiastic crowd, following a small but enthusiastic potluck, at the Humboldt Park, Chicago home of LeRoy Bach. The guests were met, the feast was set, and Edward Burch, followed by The Viper & His Famous Orchestra provided the merry din.
This was the first of 4 performances from that weekend (set lists and commentary from the other 3 to follow. Here’s what The Viper & HFO played.
First Round Polka
My Seafaring Lassie
The Viper’s Blue Yodel no. 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd
Big Headed Small Minded Man
Party in the U.S.A.
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
This was our first fully orchestral show since 2009, and featured a ridiculously expanded crew that included The Viper, Riley Broach, Edward Burch, Victor Cortez, Rob Henn, John Peacock, and Kip Rainey, three of whom played the suitcase at any given moment.
Sue Peacock has posted a number of videos from this show to YouTube, including the “Sharkin'” you see above, at:
Somewhat belated, but here is the the set list for the show played by The Viper and His Second String as part of the Friday, May 21, after party for the conference of the Alliance of Graduate Employee Locals (AGEL) held at the the Italian Workmen’s Club on Regent Street in Madison, Wisconsin. The setting rocked (Lavoratori di tutto il mondo, ridete!), the Indian catering and New Glarus Spotted Cow on tap was sweet, and I’d like to especially thank the AGEL’s Oregon contingent for treating me to a shot of whiskey at the Greenbush Bar downstairs.
For this show, The Viper and His Second String was a duo, just me and UW-Madison TAA stalwart Rob Henn on trombone, jug, and washtub bass/drum. It was Rob’s first time on two out of those three instruments, and he proved to be a mother-loving master on them. We finished our set up with three wobblyesque unionizing anthems that we played along with the evening’s second band, featuring guitarist/cümbüşjü Charles Hughes, singer Ari Eisenberg, and guitarist Dave Gilbert (?).
The Viper and His Second String made the Viper’s Milwaukee debut this past weekend, playing on Friday, May 7 at the venerable Coffee House as part of a 4-band jug-band benefit for the Central City Church’s Food Pantry. The line-up also included the great Larry Penn and his Washboard Band (featuring Dave Fox), Peter Lee, and the Grumpystiltskyn Jug Band.
Here, filmed by Sue Peacock, is The Viper and His Second String performing “The Viper’s Blue Yodel no. 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd.”
The Viper plays jug, harmonica, and baritone ukulele. On the newlybuiltwashtub bass is Riley Broach, who also played ukulele and washtub drum for the show. And filling out the Second String on the suitcase and tambourine is the vastly overqualifiedJohn Peacock, who also at various points of the evening applied his one good arm to the banjo ukulele, washtub drum, and toy piano.
Friday, May 7, 2010
The Coffee House, Milwaukee, WI
The Viper’s Blue Yodel no. 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd (on YouTube)
“Stopper in My Hand” and “Uncle Bud” were new for this show, the latter a work-up of a tune collected byZora Neale Hurston. “Maggie Mae” is a Liverpool skiffle standard I’d played with the Paint Branch Ramblers in Maryland, and the “Blue Yodel” is one I’ve been kicking around for a couple of years, though playing it with a band for the first time this show. “Das Kapital” and “Hey! Rounders” are old standbys from the Everything for Everyone era with The Viper and His Famous Orchestra.
the kind of music your great-great-great-grandparents warned your great-great-grandparents about