Da belles of da ball

In the past, I have been a pro-band guy. I have always felt that the gentle murmuring of a poignant tune on unobjectionable acoustic instruments at a pleasant volume is somewhat less interesting than watching televised golf. So, for better or (more often) worse, I’m typically the guy that says we need to show up with a bunch of musicians.

Jen, by contrast, has pleaded with me for years (usually at the height of some band-related fiasco or another) to just change my mind about that and get with the duo thing. After all, whether we have a band or not, Dutch Holly is a duo.

But ever since the Mayan Calendar ended, the poles have apparently shifted. This was breathlessly predicted by a slew of well-intentioned folks to whom I was utterly disinclined to pay the slightest bit of attention. Woe is me. For the past few weeks I have been resisting involving other players, and Jen has been lobbying for guest players at our upcoming show.

However, due to the “Joaquinian” incident described below, I am happy to report that we have reached accord on the issue for what I believe is the very first time. Ever. But first, “what is Joaquinian?” you might ask. A little history:

Years ago, as we are wont to do, Jen  and I accepted a headlining gig in L.A. without A.) having a band or B.) having any kind of cogent set rehearsed. We figured we had enough lead-time, and it would serve to get us into gear to put something together. Soon, we picked up a guitarist who said that he had a percussionist/DJ-type friend, we’ll call him Tom Joaquin (not his real name), and since we were doing an electronic thing back then, we said sure, let’s give him a try. Jen and I had programmed some beats on a drum machine and worked out a few parts which we recorded and sent over to Mr. Joaquin who was going to familiarize himself with our sound, and come up with something complimentary.

Coconut Teaszer

The Coconut Teaszer gig: Note Joaquin in the gas mask. No idea who the fellow in the coat is! That kind of night.

The day of the first Joaquin/Guitarist/Dutch Holly collaboration rehearsal arrived. We arrived at the Joaquin residence which turned out to be his parents’ house. We should’ve known something was up when Tom’s mother greeted us all-a-twitter that her Tommy finally had some friends to play with. Tom rolled out his innovations: A large concert bass-drum and a DAT recording of several tracks of television news comentary overlapped on top of one another and run through an echo pedal.  We struggled through a few tunes while Tom banged away on the bass drum (with mallets) and we strained to hear each other over the weird news chatter. It was later revealed that Joaquin was highly agorophobic and had been heavily medicated for years. We felt too sorry for him to dismiss him entirely so we played the gig with Joaquin anyway. We figured it would be good for him. (We did insist that he leave the bass drum out of it). Somewhere, there is some classic video footage of a horrified crowd at the Coconut Teaszer being bombarded with weird electronica over a burbling bed of Fox and CNN maunderings. Joaquin did three things: Press the “Play” and “Stop” buttons on the DAT, skulk around the stage in a gas-mask, and snap pictures of the crowd as they struggled to find meaning in it all. Also, Jen was wearing bat wings and a tutu.

Nick Stednitz bassist for Arizona indie pop band Dutch Holly

Nick

Had it not been for our dear friend and long-suffering bandmate, Nick Steadnitz, Jen wouldn’t have been there at all. She would have been living the romantic life of a bohemian expatriot in London or possibly Paris. However, Nick assisted her in getting summarily deported from both England and Ireland in the same week.  Also, had it not been for Nick, we probably would have still been bickering about whether to involve other players.

Although I was reluctant to allow it, Nick is an exception to almost every rule, so he was over at the house the other day sitting in on stand-up bass. He’s a great musician so it seemed that the see-saw was tilted firmly in the direction of involving other players for the upcoming show. He began talking about his friend, I’ll call him Michael Scarn (not his real name), sitting in on percussion. We arranged for a rehearsal. A few days later at that rehearsal, Scarn looked a little out of his element. He arrived with some animal-skin drums, several gourd shakers, and a flute. We started playing and we could tell right away that the Ghost of Joaquin was among us. Later, Scarn explained that he was not in fact — nor had he ever been — a percussionist. In fact, the animal-skin drums and gourd shakers were decorations that had been kind of lying around Nick’s house. Since Scarn’s mother was not there with a heartbreaking gleam in her misty eyes, and since we had learned our lesson from Joaquin, we reached a decision that day: A duo it is. (For this show).