Liberation Tourology with ALO #14
Getting to play with George Porter was the treat of a lifetime. I always thought his playing on the old Meters recordings was pure magic. I just went with him and tried to match everything he was doing rhythmically in the bass drum. The whole band sounded pretty good that night.
I was back in the Bay Area for a day before I had to head out again to play more rock music. It was just long enough to eat about a pound of kale. Mmmmm…regularity!
For those super hard-core peeps who didn’t get enough at the three day Further Fest and don’t have to be anywhere in particular on Tuesday there is the Furthermore Festival, one day of jams in the hills of gold country.
This was a cute little fest on a beautiful site with multiple rivers and dank woods. What wasn’t so beautiful was the predominance of wookies at this here jam fest. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of festivals. I’ve been to almost all of them. And, by the way, the jam scene owns the modern rock fest in America. Bonnaroo came out of the jam scene and there are hundreds of jam oriented music festivals across the country every year. I’ve been to a few indie rock festivals and they just don’t do it up quite as well as the jam kids. That’s ok though. They got a lot of other things going for them like college radio and skinny jeans.
Anyway, at jam festivals there’s the wookie phenomenon that, I suppose, everyone deals with in a different way. I wonder how the wookies deal with being a wookie and I also wonder what a wookie is in the first damn place. I generally know how to identify one, and within the genus of wookie there are a few sub-species. But I’m not sure an official definition of the wookie kind has really been put out there. Zach Gill, the singer in ALO, is working on a thesis on wookies in the form of a musical, which, hopefully, will come close.
Basically, I would describe a wookie as a scraggly, road worked, fairly drugged out and generally unbathed jam scenster with some sort of vehicle they live in, a dog and a sign that says “I Need A Miracle” written on it. They have been known to possess firearms. They live pretty well outside of normal society. They are gypsy-like, but they don’t seem particularly free or light. Many times you are more likely to find them immediately outside of music events as opposed to inside. I see them at a lot of festivals in the mountains of the West Coast.
I took a walk through the wookie-filled campgrounds before the show to see what was going on. I have to admit I was a little nervous. The wookie scene is edgy. There is a very visible and palpable degree of anarchy in their lifestyle. I wonder if these are the same type of people I saw in the parking lots of Grateful Dead shows in the 90s. Thing is, the 90s weren’t as controlled as society is now, not in my opinion, and I think that the because of that the wookies seem a little more menacing now then back then. Civilized society has gotten soft in the last ten years. We used to mosh. Now we vote on American Idol. Even “hardcore” bands have gotten ridiculous with clown makeup and meaningless digital distortion.
I’m not sure that the wookie can be fully understood by someone who hasn’t seen one. They are a visual phenomenon. I’d like to do a photo essay on wookies. Maybe I can show it in the lobby of Zach Gill’s musical performance. Or how about the EMP in Seattle?
I should also acknowledge that I’m aware that the term “wookie” may be hurtful to the people on the receiving end of the word. They may not embrace it and I think that any word used for a group or an individual that comes from outside them and is not internally accepted is derogatory. I am sorry my wookie brothers and sisters, but it could be worse. At least you’re not known as “Jawas” or “Sandpeople.” Chewbacca is cool and one of the most popular of all Star Wars characters.
This was not an ALO show. I was at Furthermore with the Everyone Orchestra, a fully improvised rock orchestra of various members always led and conducted by Matt Butler. Tonight’s roster included Nat Keefe and Aaron Redner from Hot Buttered Rum, Steve Kimock and Lebo on electric guitars, Sasha Rose, Audio Angel and Jens Gunnoe on vocals, Melvin Seals on Hammond, George Porter Jr. from The Meters on bass and me on the drummies. Getting to play with George Porter was the treat of a lifetime. I always thought his playing on the old Meters recordings was pure magic. I just went with him and tried to match everything he was doing rhythmically in the bass drum. The whole band sounded pretty good that night.
I’m really going to do a photo essay on wookies – right after I do ones on thrift store dolls, microscapes and the album covers of KFJC.
Keep up with all things Brogan, ALO or otherwise, at his official website.