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Saturday, October 05, 2013

Renn Fest

We went out to Renn Fest mainly to see and hear my oldest daughter perform.

After we did, we wandered around a bit and eventually found ourselves at what seems to be Mo's favorite, the Jolly Rogers.

Which is fine. And to be expected. Mo grew up on Jolly Rogers, it was often the music in the car going back to when she was in diapers. Not always, there was Bill Evans, Utah Phillips, Ani DiFranco, Tim Wilson, Tom Lehrer, Bob Dylan, Dead Kennedys, Veggie Tales, really whatever I felt like listening to.

Those sea chanteys and bawdy songs are fine listening in the car, and everything is rated PG-31 so you don't need to worry about explaining what your kid repeats at Kindergarten the way you might with the Dead Kennedys. Ahem.

The pirate known on stage as Mayhem, he's an old friend. About as old as any I have, I think.

Met him around the fall of 1982 when we were in an awkward institution known as junior high school. He's actually the one who coined the term 'Lobster Land.'

One day during passing I greeted him with the usual hokey bro-handshake and said, "Jam!"

Jam was, at the time, an all purpose word. Jam meant 'hello,' jam also meant 'good-bye,' 'that's awesome,' 'that sucks,' 'I'm bored,' 'I think they're serving pizza today,' 'I wish my hair would grow out faster,' 'I'm horny but I haven't figured out what to do about it yet,' 'I hate dressing out for gym,' 'I can't believe I got a D in Wood Shop,' 'she's cute,' 'you're dismissed,' and 'I don't care that bell bottoms went out of style years ago, it's what I wear.'

So I said, "Jam!" and Mayhem responded, "Yeah, let's smoke some Rice Crispies and go to Lobster Land."

He bears no responsibility for the excesses of the Lobster cult I developed in the remainder of my time at Hocker Grove, though I think I made him a Cardinal in the Lobster Church or some such nonsense.

All of which makes me sound like a weird kid, I guess. Trust me, this guy was an official bad influence on me and I'm eternally grateful for that.

Colorful as I might seem to some folks, there's Hawaiian shirts and bicycle commuting, then there's making your living as a singing pirate.

Back when I first found out about the Jolly Rogers, I didn't really believe they could be getting paid to have this much fun. I guess I can still hardly believe it.

Neither can they, I think. Devon was doing one of his signature moves, retrieving a tip from the d├ęcolletage of a corseted fan with his lips, and as he went in he commented, 'Weird job I have.'

We ended up staying through two sets, they really do put on a good show.

And I picked up the Argosy CD reissue, which I guess is their first album, one that was originally released on cassette tape only. My collection is pretty near encyclopedic, going back to No Quarter as long as you only count the CDs. I had some Marty Burke cassettes back in the 80s that wore out and can't be replaced, and that kind of soured me on buying that format ever again.

I guess in the growing-older-is-a-bitch column, Mayhem had a little kidney cancer this year. Gave up a third of one kidney, which I gather is about as good as it gets with that cancer. We compared notes on trying to fake having normal blood pressure and the relative merits of cancer versus heart disease.

And Mo and I had fun walking around and soaking up the general silliness that is Renn Fest. The Jolly Rogers might not be particularly 'Renaissance,' there's a lot of creative to that creative anachronism. Most of their material is either original or only dates from the past two centuries. At one point they made a crack about how the next song might not be entirely fitting in the Renaissance, as if any of this belongs in the Renaissance...

But belonging to the Renaissance isn't the same thing as belonging in the Renaissance Festival, is it? Their shows seem to have uniformly full benches, and people know the songs and sing along. Their boat is right by a booze concession, too, and a lot of those songs amount to old-timey beer commercials.

I doubt some of the other stuff we took in is much more in-place on a timeline. Something tells me the sexy gypsy act we caught next is at least as out of place. But a great belly dancer act.

They certainly gave me a lot to try and capture with my camera. The light was fading and a lot of shots turned out blurry because these folks are flat-out moving.

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