The Viper and His Famous Orchestra will be ruining the perfectly lovely atmosphere of two of our favorite venues in early November 2016 as we surround election day with shows on Saturday, Nov. 5 in the brewpub backgroom of the Parched Eagle in Westport, WI (just outside of Madison) and then on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the classiest cocktail lounge in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, the California Clipper. (Details below.)
NOTE: With these shows, we’re welcoming the newest member of the Viper’s extended familial entourage: bassist Riley Broach has recently achieved proud father status with the birth of his daughter, Lyra Paulina (the “y” and “i” are both pronounced like a long “e”). So walk right up to him and give him a great big kiss when you see him.
Saturday, November 5, 2016 (7:30 to 9:30 p.m.)
Parched Eagle Brew Pub
5440 Willow Road #112, Westport, WI 53597 | (608) 204-9192
The Viper & His Famous Orchestra are back at this Westport hotspot to rock the back room for this pre-election blow-out. Don’t miss it!
Wednesday, November 9, 2016 (10:00 p.m.)
The California Clipper
1002 North California Ave., Chicago, IL 60622 | (773) 384-2547
The Viper & His Famous Orchestra are back at this Humboldt Park hotspot to rock the front room for this post-election blow-out. Don’t miss it! With DJ Lawrence Peters and his vinyl 45s. $5 Cheap.
Thursday, January 31 might have been the last time I would ever see or play my baritone ukulele. This 1960s Guild uke has been my primary instrument since about 1996, the one for which I had to order from Brooklyn a custom-built hardshell case, the one used at just about every Viper & His Orchestra show ever played (see picture below), and the one to be heard on both Viper recordings. And it was almost lost for good when I left it behind in the classroom for my 8:00-9:15 class. At least we would have gone out with a bang — or, more accurately, a “Bang Bang,” as I’ll take up in my next post.
The Viper and his Famous Orchestra (baritone ukulele at right)
Costumed as an allegory of life under Das Capital
Halloween 1999, The Hideout, Chicago, Illinois
When I started writing this post on Friday, February 1, the fate of that uke was still very much up in the air. It wasn’t in the classroom when I checked first thing Friday morning, it hadn’t showed up at the university police department’s lost & found, and the pleading contact message I scrawled on the classroom blackboard when I came in on Saturday had been wiped clean by Monday morning. (I take this erasure as a function of teaching at a private university — at the state school where I did my graduate work, we RESPECTED the “do not erase” sign.)
So on Monday, I started trying to track down the information on everyone else who’d taught in that same classroom after me, and emailing them my sob story. The first responses that started trickling back weren’t encouraging, though one of them indicated at least that the uke had still been in the classroom as of 12:25. It wasn’t until 9:18 on the morning of Tuesday, February 5 — after four rather depressing days — that I got a message from a faculty member in the Philosophy department named Chris Venner that he had the instrument, that I could pick it up in his office, and that “Charley Patton’s ‘Jelly Roll’ sounds pretty good on it” (the which I don’t doubt).
Reunited and it feels so good. Chris, I will always be in your debt. And in the next post, I’ll put up my recording of what otherwise might have been the last Viper performance ever on this instrument.