Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Trumpets fly through my memory

The three Aislers Set albums still stand tall since the band that played them dissipated and the woman who masterminded them left town. "Attraction Action Reaction", from the third, How I Learned To Write Backwards, just came on the iPod while we were taking our evening walk, and I was reminded all over again how much I loved this band. At their live shows, when they reached the instrumental break of this song, bandleader Amy Linton would suddenly pick up her trumpet and blast out the poignant horn melody, fingering the notes with her left hand while still picking out a dizzy, dissonant arpeggio on her 12-string guitar with her right hand. I saw her do this at least three times and was dumbfounded each time she pulled it off. Uncanny. A far cry from when I interviewed Amy back in 2000 and she swore she was too nervous to ever play trumpet on stage. A few years later, no such fear. Amy's been relatively quiet lately, but she could drop another genius pop nugget on us at any moment when we least expect it. You never know.

My old Australian acquaintances the Cannanes have also been known to bust out the occasional trumpet on their records, (check out the wonderful song, "Frightening Thing", both the classic and rare single on K Records and the weird dub mix that opens their album Arty Barbecue) but as far as I have witnessed, Stephen O'Neill sticks to the guitar at live shows. I recall one show at the Bottom Of The Hill where Fran Gibson was entertaining the audience in her deadpan, Australian-accented voice, telling the story of someone who came up to her after a set and told her that she looked like she should be sitting at a desk when she sings, presumably because Fran has never been one to move much on stage.

"A desk!" she repeated, warming to the idea. "That would be good. Then I could pull things out of the drawers during the songs, like..." She paused, unsure where she was going with this.

"Trumpets!" I shouted spontaneously.

"Yes! Trumpets!" she agreed. Now that I am far less inclined to get outrageously drunk at live shows, I find myself cringing at some of my inappropriate audience antics in the past. But that one still makes me smile.

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