Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lennon's Ghost in Marfa

Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl
(photo by Lacey Jones)
It was a surreal evening and the product of a fluke happenstance. Last month, my good friend and gifted songwriter, Laura Gibson, informed me that she was going to be the opening act on tour for Sean Lennon's new project, the Ghost of a Sabertooth Tiger, a duo with himself and his partner Charlotte Kemp Muhl. Since Laura had a break in the tour in between Austin and Tucson, she asked me if I wanted to put together a show for her and I. As a joke, sort of, I suggested that if Sean Lennon wanted to play on the bill, we could make room. She called me back a few days later and said, "Well actually..."

And so that is how I ended up on a bill with the son of John and Yoko, the beautiful boy himself. While Sean does not lean on his heritage, he doesn't reject it either. He is the incarnate image of his 60s era father and doesn't try very hard to sound or look very different. Why should he? He seems comfortable with his inherited talent, but not necessarily the legacy. His tiny band travels with one extra trumpet player and a sound man in a modest van that they load and unload themselves.

I played a short 30 minute set, backed by my friends Drew Pressman and Jack Wilson, which was nice for a change from the 3 to 4 hours that I usually have to fill. Then the lovely Laura Gibson took the stage with her partner Sean Ogilvie and seduced the audience with intimately stripped down versions of her songs, while telling uncharacteristic off kilter jokes and ending with an audience participated singalong.

Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl then took the stage after getting lost in Marfa for an hour trying to find the El Cosmico trailer that they were staying in. The paparazzi emerged with cameras and other modern devices. The duo ignored the cameras and played a beautiful set filled with tight melodic harmonies and compliments about West Texas. Charlotte later told us that Sean had a stomach ulcer and wasn't as energized as usual. Without an optimal performance to compare it to, I was satisfied. We had a great crowd that drove in from all over Texas for the show at Padres.

Since Lennon and crew kept asking about the Marfa Lights, we took them there after the show. He was really enamored by the beauty of the West Texas night under an almost full moon. I told him about the Big Bend National Park further South and the Terlingua Ghost Town and the Starlight Theatre where he should play when he comes back through next. His eyes widened at the thought and we exchanged information. He said that he loves those kinds of 'weird gigs'. Charlotte told me that with the hat I was wearing that I looked like a hassidic hipster and that I should adopt that identity. But I think that novel combination has already been used.

Another enjoyable evening in Far West Texas.


MsBelinda said...

That is so neat. It is not everyday that one gets to meet let along perform with the son of a legend.

Glad he is down to earth and that he and his band are their own roadies.

frann said...

I miss everything!!!!!!!!! So close and yet!! Dang,drat,crap!

Sharon Secor said...

Wow, what a wonderfully cool experience for you to have. Isn't it amazing where our paths will take us in this life!