Postcards from Uncle Muddy
I was introduced to the Meligrove's musically at a party...almost. Satch had returned from BC, with a hot cd in his hands... "Muddy... you're gonna love this." I had been drinking all day, unintentially of course, I was scheduled to attend a social gathering, so this was no problem. “It's a Canadian group... The Meligrove Band, 'Planets Conspire' is the name of the record.” The cd went into my pocket, and was forgotten until the hell that was the next morning arrived... My eyes fluttered open, the first alert breath taken in sent a rush of pain to my head... The taste of whiskey was still in my mouth. My body felt severly abused like I had gotten into a fight. Had I gotten into a fight? The pain in my chest had caused me caution. I hadn't even focused my eyes when the presence of a sharp jabbing came clear... 'I've been in a fight', my mind could only reason. I tried to attach the blurred images together, but the connections weren't quite there. I remembered the liquor store... my first two drinks, arriving at the party... rolling a three paper bomber, someone was crying in the bathroom, I was forced outside to piss... all of these scrambled images, yet no combat to explain the aching in my chest. I could feel my clothes on. As my hand reached to diagnose the throb in my chest, my fingers glanced plastic... A cd case, twisted in my pocket in such a manner to drive a sharp corner into me. I wrestled the cd out of my pocket... the hell? Moving as minimally as possible I managed to pull my twisted pack of smokes from my other pocket, damn... I couldn't have those pushed into my chest. Lighting a cigarette that conjured the beer flavour in my mouth and the nausea... I quickly dashed the cherry, and formulated a new plan. Fortunately my bong was within arms reach, and still held the unsmoked contents from last night when I presumably passed out. The flavour was harsh, unforgiving, and brought up a cough that reflected every one of the 23 cigarettes from the night before... The feeling in my stomach began to calm, the weed went in quietly. Once inside my body it proceeded to silence the aches. I was able to sit half upright at this point, the cigarette I butted out was now much more tasty. Reaching for the cd player, I put in the cause of my chest pains... My diagnosis for a productive day came back negative, grabbing my stash I reloaded and pressed play. Gentle piano, perfect for a day as such graced the room... then the drums. Vocals, bass... harmonies. This was good, really good. I assumed it was the weed at first... untrusting of my slightly frazzled senses. By the second track I was convinced of goodness... either in my cd player, or bong. My eyes grew heavy... the music provided a maniac soundtrack to my deranged dreams. I awoke several hours later... managed to wrangle myself out of bed to the kitchen sink, I grabbed the least conspicuously filthy of my cups for a drink of water. My day seemed screwed already... now to end this debate of quality and where it lie. It was between the music and the dope... my heart wished for the music, remembering the sketchy scumbag that had sold me the stuff. It took only a quick listen to reassure myself, and my heart... by Jove, it was the music. It had the feel of something familiar... a vintage quality that is generally surpassed for digital clarity these days. I was pondering this, packing a bowl, and lighting another cigarette as track three “Grasshopper's in Honey” was winding down... and what the hell? A whistled solo which led into a bass solo?... my mind was grappling with this as I was hit upside the head with “Everyone's a Winner”. I expected the suck to come any moment, and it didn't happen. The album was beautifully layered, I desperately craved headphones to get a closer listen, but a moments interruption to this record could be fatal I reckoned. Harmonised vocals with vintage synths accented by flaring horn sections backing up songs that were most certainly written deep in the trenches of the 70's. The fact this was on cd seemed at odds with the material, this should only be on vinyl I supposed. A strange middle ground that falls between riff rock, Ben Folds, and Supertramp. It was whilst I was strongly engaged in the grip of this album when I was approached to drive to Winnipeg. Satch was a local musician, and good friend. A drinking buddy whom I could greet 5 am with a bottle and a battle over the superior records... his musical taste and the resulting discussions elevated him past the point of just a drinking buddy to a good friend. Him and his girlfriend Maria had an appointment in the city and were desperate for a lift. Winnipeg from Kenora is a two and a half hour trek, however, this can be accomplished in an hour and change if the proper factors and measures are in applied. First, transportation… you need a vehicle that can maintain a constant velocity of approximately 150/kmh, and also manouver appropriately under these conditions. Also, you need a driver with an unwavering demeanor, the ability to spot police, wildlife, and beer vendors along the way. Provisions; always roll your joints in advance, you will require a minimum of 5, I recommend at least 8. With 5, you can have one before you leave, and another every half hour subsequent to that. Red Bull, a high test caffene based drink, comes in 300ml cans, drinking three of these exceeds recommended daily caffene intake. Your driver will require at least 4 to 5, this number varies depending upon the marijuana consumption. This is to counteract the ‘groggy’ effect of the weed, whilst still maintaining the ‘high’. Your driver will certainly be stoned, but you still need a sincere amount of competence and alertness to maintain your vehicle’s speed. Cigarettes, at least two packs, and four or five lighters, there’s no sense in having your driver search for a light while he’s colliding with Bambi. Speaking of which, if you do encounter an animal at such speeds, do not under any circumstances slow down. A 500 pound animal at slower speeds will merely crumple your car’s front end, leaving the radiator sitting aproximately where your testicles formerly resided… no, against the screams of your passengers, you must accelerate, your only hope of survival is to hit the animal at such a speed that they are thrown clear over your vehicle. Beer, is also essential, but more so as bookends… at least three should be downed in rapid succession in order to establish a good buzz before you go… the remaining will serve to calm everyone’s nerves upon arrival. With the current climate being very anti- drinking and driving, it’s best if these are kept cool in your trunk. I elected to be the driver... not out of some proven track record of expedential driving, yet more out of a proven track record of being able to handle the aforementioned substances with an odd sort of ability... I was anticipating a night of debauchery in the city... my girlfriend Beverly accepted the offer to tag along. Informing only one friend in Winnipeg of my intents to visit, it was no suprise to me when the hotel room phone rang... Satch and I were mid-doob as I answered in the strange stoner speak that is inherent in smoking while talking... “The Meligrove band is playing...” I expected Wayne to say next week, and to name another city... but he didn't. “At the Pyramid... tonight.” “Shit the bed!” I retorted, no longer concerned with holding the THC in my lungs. This was important. I'm not much of a clubber, unless it's sealing season and there's a doe eyed McCartney on the ice... It's a strange experience for me, being a smoker in the city... my compulsion is to light up the second the beer hits my lips, however... that is a no-no. The strangest part about shows are the people there; In any city, or town, there will be the screaming girl contingent. Providing they only scream at appropriate times, this is manageable... If it's a drinking event (which this was), there's always heavy gettin' drunk rockin' out with the band guy... or simply, 'drunk guy' in lay speak. You also get the indie kids... the ones at the back of the room, quietly sipping beers, and nodding their heads to the beat of the music. Then there's the in between the screaming girls and indie kids section... the people in social purgatory. You can be anyone in the confines of the middle of a crowd. I noticed a female sitting alone watching the tv while the bands played, dressed in a '30's top. A knee length black skirt, which lead to a pair of fishnet stockings ending in a pair of black high heels. I tried to not be obvious and attempted to catch a glimpse of the television with the music. Strange older men, grey haired and offering to buy drinks for anyone all too quickly. There's the people who are first time 'concert-goers', or friends who came to a bar and found a band. There's also the slovengly drunk. Welcome to the middle, comfortable... isn't it? I had reservations... I've been disappointed before, fantastic albums that don't translate to stage. There was a nervous energy inside... I wanted to leave, and I would have had it not been for the four Fort Garry Ale (which were on sale) in front of me. I didn't want to lose what I got from the record, to a mediocre performance. For myself, and others in the musically inept department... records are almost a holy sacrament. Music has been there when we've all needed it, inspired us, and driven us... losing that would be like finding out Mr. Dressup hated kids... or Mr. Hooper didn't die, he was caught in a horrible scandal and was kicked off of Sesame Street. That idea is even too horrible to even connotate a ficticious scenario for example. The Meligrove Band took the stage... they took it and ran.The girls went up front, away from the screaming girl section I hope... while Satch, Wayne, and Myself were paralyzed. The only thing we could ponder was another beer... I sat in awe... my mouth surely agape. Bev came back to the table... “Come on up closer to the stage...” I don't know if I even responded... to get closer would surely send me into some sort of shock. I wish'd I had left... smoked a joint and come back... “Thanks dudes...” Jay Nunes on lead vocals, guitar, and piano, kicked another epic guitar riff into gear. Everyon in the band does backups which helps recreate the lushness of the record. Mike Small, a steadfast bassist held the bottom end with Darcy Rego a drummer with an enless supply of energy, and breath as he kicked it hard and still sang. Andrew Scott held down guitar, synth, trumpet and a baritone trombone... and he plays a mean tambourine if you're wondering. A good band live should feel like a first love, a first drunk, or the oncoming bliss of a bag of mushrooms. You should forget about the shapes on stage, and be wrapped tightly in the music... Contented. Absorbed. Enthralled. Inspired. And we were. They opened up with new material...yet unheard on record save for a CBC session on Radio 3. Jay put his guitar down and slid onto the keys for some cuts off the album. The nerves in the base of my spine attempted to trigger my legs. It was better than the record. My jaw lowered another inch in awe. It was now clinically impossible for me to move... even a cigarette meant going outside, losing sound quality which was unimaginable. The new songs pointed in a new direction, high energy, electric driven, and catchy. A move away from the piano driven rock of 'Planets Conspire', yet maintaining the same musical sensibilities. By the time Andrew picked up his trumpet, we were sold, bought and traded... lock, stock and barrel. The great thing about bringing girls to concerts is that there is no intimidation, we sat back at our table, trying to comprehend what just transpired...sincerly overwhelmed, while the girls had rushed the stage and engaged Andrew into conversation. We had another beer, again virtually entranced by the show that had just happened. I was taken aback by the approachability of everyone in the band, I'm sure it helps having two attractive females running interference. The bar was soon closing... Satch and I stocked up on beer, and went outside for a cigarette. Striking up a converstaion outside with the band, we ended up upstairs... We all hung out, drank some beer. I've never met a more laid back and down to earth band. I've met guys in Kenora acting like they were Jon Bon Jovi with less talent then one of these guys. We all just shot the shit, in lesser of terms... You'd expect a “true tale from behind the curtain” to entail some drastic rock and roll manouvers. But it was just like hanging with old friends. I got a vinyl copy of their album before we left... You stumble into your hotel room at 4am and smoke a bowl, thinking that may help the situation. The room's doing weird things, yet it's tough to tell if it's weed, drink, or lack of sleep. St. Vital is a horror whilst hungover... especially at 10 am. You've got to hold on to your stomach. New York Fries will be manageable around 11:30. After that... it's smooth sailing. Drive fast, get home, sleep soon... I just saw an ad, the Meligrove Band is coming to Kenora.
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