Like Garfield, I’m pretty much allergic to Mondays. This one, however, didn’t go half-bad.
Things started out with a clear sky and plenty of sun (I was glad it didn’t snow). The good weather, along with looking forward to finally putting this one bleeping track to bed after months of waiting, had me feeling my Wheaties. Catching three buses to get to the recording studio was light stuff.
Walking up from the last bus stop in West Hell somewhere (actually it was only Crystal, but I don’t get out much), I spot Jeff “Boday” Christensen unloading guitars in from his car, holler across the parking lot, then go over to meet this guy with the magic fingers and carry a case. He’s there to put the finishing touch on a song I’m singing with, ahem, Alicia Wiley. The session goes smooth as baby’s butt. Boday knocks out that song and two others. As a perk on the day, on my way out the door, I delightedly filch some sticks of incense and the swimsuit edition of Maxim and buy a Winterland Studios t-shirt.
Back at the crib, I’m checking out Cadillac Records with my man upstairs. The ice is barely melting in my drink when I remember there’s work to do. Spoken word legend Da Black Pearll is expecting me to come interview her at the Blue Nile. I take a good swallow, put my glass in the sink, and leave Terry watching Jeffrey Wright channel Muddy Waters. Duck inside my door, put the tape recorder in my bag, and hit it on the highway (actually more like a footpath) to Franklin Avenue. I’m late and freak because Pearll is nowhere to be seen and the bartender, a crisp, cool guy named Al, says nobody’s been in asking for me. Great. I’ve stood up an interview writers would kill for. To not waste Al’s time, I order a shot on the rocks and try to figure out how I’m going to apologize well enough to Da Black Pearll so that she’ll give me a rain check. For good luck, I ask Al to please make that a double. Before I can walk back out the door, though, none other than the lady herself waltzes in, explaining that she had car problems. I get a big old Kool-Aid smile on and thank God for faulty automobiles. The interview flows. Inside forty-five minutes there’s more than enough material for two stories (I love it when I can do double-duty, covering one artist for both the Daily Planet and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.)
When I get back home, there’s laundry to do, the kitchen floor to mop, and a teenage daughter to check in with before scooting back out to catch the New Congress doing their weekly gig at Elixir in downtown Minneapolis. It’s a classy joint. Atmospheric. Has a good, comfortable feel. And the staff are on their toes—attentive, but not a pain in the ass. When you want something they’re there. When you don’t, they’re not hovering. Importantly, the bartender does not skimp on your serving.
Before TNC start, some pretty, dark-haired woman sits down next to me, smiling. She must have the wrong booth. She calls me by name. The eyes look awfully familiar but I can’t place where from. Then she opens her mouth and I catch an odd experience. As an artist and as an individual, I love Wiley to death, but, man, I’m tellin’ you right now, she caught me off guard, having dyed her blonde hair brunette. Turns out Alicia was there with Desdamona, who—small world—Pearll couldn’t say enough about during the interview. I’m stoked to give Wiley a disc from the afternoon session, and can’t believe I didn’t pack one in my bag. I fish around and fish around. It’s in a pocket I have for safekeeping and never remember to check. Too late. I look up and Alicia Wiley and Desdamona have split.
The New Congress, let me emphatically state, were never weak to begin with and just keep getting stronger. It’s my first time seeing them in months and they pull of a version of their staple “Can’t Be Me“ that is airtight. When the guitar and keyboard solos come in, it’s on a bed you could bounce a quarter off of. They also did this one new number, something called “Lingo” (maybe it’s on the new album Crucial) that simmered in a sweet stew. It’s a brilliant piece of songwriting, pretty chords set to a funk-nasty groove. That’s how Cosgrove writes and sings: in his own beautifully effective bag, keeping the world safe for tasty R&B-rock. I didn’t recognize the drummer, bassist, or backup singer sitting in with frontman-guitarist Aaron “Orange A.C.” Cosgrove, keyboardist Russ King, and singer Steph Devine. They was all good, though.By the time I call it a day, it’s not Monday anymore. It is, however, a fine memory—one I can’t wait to write up.
Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.
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