Mark Dorshak, who’s at the moment jawing with me on the phone, is a fine guitarist and a sharp, solid producer. A prince of a guy, too. Me and him, though, can on occasion drive one another up a tree. This happens to be such an occasion—two weeks before our first gig together, with me singing and backing myself up on acoustic rhythm guitar. Never mind the particulars of how we are making each other crazy this time. Show me a partnership—even the best of ’em—and you’ll see problems. It’s just a matter of how they’re dealt with. Today, getting off the phone, I deal with it by pulling out some of what little bit of hair I have left, asking myself: Self, you sure this is how Richie Havens got famous?
Haven’t gigged, outside of a few open mics, in about five years. Not since opening for James Curry at the Terminal Bar. And, five years before that, opening for David Daniels at the 7th Street Entry. That’s a lot of rust to scrape off, especially if you haven’t even had a guitar lying around the house to practice on and keep yourself loose. Consequently, rehearsal has been interesting—to say the least. Songs I played for ages by second nature, both covers and songs that I wrote, I’ve had to figure out the lyrics and chords all over agin. And that’s after getting my fingers nimble enough to touch all the strings at the same time. Fun.
It’s coming along, though. Helps that at least I’ve kept my pipes warm over the past year or so, in and out of the studio, recording a CD that should’ve been finished this summer except the economy had other ideas. It’s on hold, but the work out at Winterland Studios is mostly done. In fact, two tracks are up at CD Baby. They’re not exactly burning up the charts, but, well, that’s what gigs are for. Accordingly, to promote this upcoming appearance at Corner Coffee in Minneapolis’s Warehouse District, I swung guest spots on radio and TV, courtesy of some dear friends. Kinshasha Kambui had me on her show Health Notes from the Heart of a Natural Woman (KFAI), and Bill Borea had me on Spectator (MTN). That’s to get the cuts, “End It All Over Again” and “Lady Midnight,” some airplay.
“Interesting” isn’t quite the word for how the studio experience has gone, working at a top-flight space with hellified musicians. Check this out. Alicia Wiley sings a duet with me on “End It All Over Again,” and plays piano on “Lady Midnight,” doing an arrangement by J.D. Steele. There’s guest guitarist Aaron “Orange A.C.” Cosgrove from The New Congress, guitarist Jeff “Boday” Christensen, Stanley Kipper (timbales, vocals) and Chico Perez (congas) from New Primitives and Yohannes Tona, who plays bass and, for “End It All Over Again,” played piano and did the arrangement. Won’t none of them be at Corner Coffee—hell, I’ll be happy if me and Mark keep it together long enough for our debut.
The place, by the way, is a nice quiet spot where you can grab fancy sandwiches and a specialized cup of joe, and there’s a short menu of home-cooked stuff that smelled great last time I was in (I interviewed Lehamore-Hudson, a pair of pretty damned good guitarists.) Shouldn’t be a hard room to play. Not if I’m in shape—which I’m working on as quickly and diligently as a few weeks allow. It’s been like riding a bicycle with most of rehearsal being about wobbling my butt off and keeping from falling right on my fanny.
So. I stop pulling at my scalp and pick up my guitar.
The story continues: Dwight Hobbes performs at Corner Coffee, 514 3rd St. N. in the Warehouse District, Minneapolis. August 27, 7-8 p.m. No cover, all ages. Shameless plug, I know. Sue me.