actually, it's part one if you look at it chronologically. that's rarely how i look at things, tho. i suppose i'm thinking of it as part two because it wasn't really New Year's Eve, but the day (night) before.
it was supposed to be Plan B for me and the ex, if we both ended up without dates for New Year's, which was looking pretty damn likely at the time we discussed it. as it turned out, he found a date and conveniently forgot Plan B, and then decided he wasn't interested in going to hear music the day before that, either. well, damn the torpedos and buy myself a ticket, then. i've been wanting to hear him for ages, and wasn't about to miss the opportunity.
he who?, you might ask. Ellis Paul, that's who. he does four shows at Passim's at the end of each year for quite some time now and they always sell out. i got a ticket for the first show the first night. yay! i also meant to make a dinner reservation to go with it, but forgot. fortunately, they were able to fit me in at a table right near the stage. i don't know how it is, but i always get good seats there, only one or two tables from the stage. sometimes, it is good to travel alone.
the show was sort of like having a cup of tea and a glass of Guinness, Ellis being the tea and Flynn being the Guinness. i've now seen Flynn four times, and only once on purpose. he opened for The Push Stars and now Ellis Paul, and they used his album as the preshow music for John Wesley Harding (and Ellis was the postshow music, if i remember correctly). incestuous little group they have going, isn't it? turns out they all use the same agent or booking person, as i found out chatting up one of they backstage guys i saw at the Ellis show when i ran into him again at The Push Stars show the next night.
i had tried to see Flynn once, when he was playing with the band rather than just doing the acoustic thing. i thought he was headlining, so i finished up my dinner and headed downstairs about a half hour in (set times and rock just don't go together). turns out he was opening for some eminently forgettable band, and i made it in about halfway thru his opening set. the guy at the door said they had just started as he took my cover charge... yeah, right. (side note: one of the few examples a double positive makes a negative.) i still heard a few songs, chatted up Flynn afterwards, bumped into some people i knew from the 'music scene', and decided not to chat up another musician that i follow regularly who was there as audience.
so Flynn had just flown in from Ireland that day, and was punch drunk with jet lag and funny and sounded lovely as always. it's always good to hear him. he joked around about how different it is to play for the coffeehouse set than in the local Irish bars - we all sit there and clap politely, whereas the tavern crowd is more like 'nice 'un - 'nother pint, Jimmie!'. true enough.
Ellis was fantabulous. so nice to hear him in person after only hearing several albums. he did an a capella number (Strange World) while changing a string, having beaten the hell out of his guitar. pretty impressive feat, i thought, not missing a beat and still getting the string set without looking down. and he told all kinds of funny stories between songs, like the one about going off into the woods to chop down a Christmas tree because dad insisted on doing it that way. by the time they were done with this poor tree, dragging it back to the house and wiring it up to keep it from tipping over, it looked pretty bedraggled. but, see, that isn't even funny unless you could watch him reenacting it while telling, and turning himself into the tree. you'll just have to go see him when he's in your town.
and he talked about meeting up with the angel transvestite who inspired Angel in Manhattan. it's rather eerie - the song has been around for quite a while, and was written about something altogether different. but the lyrics talk about angels in Manhattan 'on a Tuesday morning, just like any other Tuesday morning'. guess which day of the week 9/11 was? the song has been getting a lot of airplay since then, and the transvestite got in touch with Ellis recently, which was a neat kind of closure, as Ellis hadn't met him before that.
i enjoyed looking at the stage almost as much as i liked listening to the music. Ellis had sort of brought the living room with him. there was an illuminated moon hanging up by the photo of Dylan (which always has place of pride there - it's one of the first places he played), a leather rocker off to one side, a painted folk-arty sort of end table with an Art Deco lamp, bubble barometer and a wine bottle with sunflowers. the barometer was especially appropriate, given that Galileo Prayed is one of his more popular songs. he says that people send him all sorts of Galileo paraphenalia and books; he even got to see an original manuscript once because the librarian thought he should. oh, and there were candles everywhere, too! made me happy to see all that color on stage.
it's also fun to watch the reflection in the picture window... it's sort of like being able to step back and look at things from another vantage point without having to go anywhere. as i was watching in the window, i saw a little kid on a tricycle who had stopped to watch and listen from the sidewalk, up over our heads. i found myself wishing for a camera to catch that collage of images.
Ellis did nearly all my favorites, as well as a ballad version of one of Flynn's songs, which was neat. it was such fun to watch him; he's got that thin English look about him, and shoulder length hair, so already i'm lost. he sings sort of sideways, out of the corner of his mouth, in a charming sort of way, and moves around almost like a marionette, stepping up for emphasis and swinging his hips a little to the beat. he also turns a rather alarming shade of red when he hits high and or long notes. and i realized that he had red laces in his hiking boots - charming all over again.
i wanted to talk to him after the show and tell him how much i liked his performance, and how i'd almost gotten myself killed playing his pilot story for my best friend as we were driving somewhere. i wanted to stay for the second show and see him again. i wanted the night to keep being perfect. the next show was sold out, though, and just as well, as i was tired and had plenty to get done the next few days. so i wandered off to find a glass of wine and then headed home, still humming.