On Friday, June 30th, Big Baltimore Roots Revival delivered its namesake and then some to the packed hall of Frazier’s on 36thstreet. Said revivalists included southern Maryland’s very own Three Man River Band, followed by local favorites Bobby E. Lee & The Sympathizers and The Barnyard Sharks.
Sometimes, the energy within a room, combined with swamped bartenders haphazardly pouring oversized “shots” of whiskey into plastic cups, leads to a form of suspended animation that is often referred to by modern experts on the subject as “crunk.”
Now, I wouldn’t say my recollection of this evening is skewed, but as the days continue to pass, my experience that night continues to seem all the more dream-like. All I’ll say is this: if this event was anything, it was a participatory one. No way in hell I could have maintained a table in the back and jotted down notes. Nope, no sir.
Live music is impressionistic in its nature, anyhow. You can’t articulate or re-create the moments of improvisation, synchronicity, and tension that come to pass when groups of people are on stage playing music. You feel them, and they’re gone, and your brain retains an imprint of the fleeting sensation.
Ok, so, now that I’ve defended the fact that I am a drunk:
Three Man River Band kicked off the festivities with a sound that immediately brought to mind The Band, and certainly more than one nod to the likes of Americana / Alt-Country superstars The Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show. Their infectious energy & spontaneity provided the initial greasing of the armpits and minds of the Frazier’s crowd as it slowly approached critical mass.
Also, I have to give a shout-out to these guys as they did first form in St. Mary’s County, southern Maryland, the place of my birth and rearing.
Following the first act, I found myself flopped on my ass amongst the sidewalk of chatting smokers scarfing down what I believe was a quantity of chicken tenders that I allowed to scorch my mouth repeatedly. With a mouthful of chicken, my ears perked up, and I realized: shit! Bobby E. Lee is on!
By this point, Frazier’s was officially packed. Bobby E. Lee & the Sympathizers’ hoedown-meltdown was in full swing, bringing together the dirty energies of country music and punk music. There was dancing, lots of it, urgent, intimate, a mass of once disparate individuals coalescing into a loosely defined singular unit. Beer cups were being whipped at the stage. The Barnyard Sharks took up a holding pattern near the front, where they hurled taunts and obscenities at the sweat-drenched and spastic Sympathizers. I haven’t shaken my ass like that in a long time.
As I approached complete tunnel vision, I can recall The Barnyard Sharks setting up. I vacillated in and out of a gash in the fabric of time and space, and then, suddenly, I looked up, and the room was alive with horns, banjo, bass, shouting, gyrating; an unclassifiable circus of mashed-up, defiantly weird grunge-funk. I remember a black dildo passing before my eyes, monolithic and possessed of a strange sentience, and then, bam. Lights out. Sidewalk. Vehicle. I was being rescued, taken to my place of repose.
I awoke as the soft light of morning filtered into the spare room of my friend’s Waverly row-house. Bleary eyed, confused. 9:00am. I could still taste the whiskey.
My first thought: where the hell are my socks?