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1,000 RED ROSES
August 24, 2014
Twenty years ago, the Davis Art Center wanted to raise money to pay for sign language interpreters so that children with hearing disabilities could take classes at the center. They turned to Lawsuit and asked if they would do a fund-raising concert. They did and the funds were raised. They called it the "1,000 Red Roses concert", after the lyric in one of Lawsuit's songs, "Picturebook Pretty" (I think the original lyric was "a dozen (or maybe 100) red roses would not be quite enough...")
That concert was amazing because it was signed by a team of signers. I had, of course, seen signers at lots of theatrical events, but never at a concert. It was quite a sight to behold. After the show, a mother came to me, tears in her eyes, and told me this was the first time her deaf teen age daughter had ever danced and that thanks to the signers and whatever vibration she could get from the beat through the ground or the speakers, she was able to "get it" and was able to understand the music.
In 1996, there was another 1000 Red Roses concert. This one right after David died and it was a very emotional concert. It was the only concert--ever--where Paul was rendered speechless. His father walked out on stage to sing a small solo and then, with pre-arrangement with Tom and nobody else, he took a stage dive into the audience and was carried through the crowd by Tom and his friends. It was an unforgettable moment.
Lawsuit is gone and Paul is gone, but the music lives on. Lawsuit morphed into Preoccupied Pipers, which includes many of the Lawsuit musicians, some of the Lawsuit songs and lots of new music. They usually play one concert a year, when Jeri is in town, and it's more for fun than anything else.
This year, the Art Center contacted Ned again and asked about doing a concert to pay for sign language interpreters again. That concert was last night, on the E Street Plaza, which we have always called "Paul Plaza" because the performing area is covered with lots of bricks, many of which have memorial comments for Paul and David, a project spearheaded by the Davis Downtown Business Association. The brick Walt and I bought says "The name of this band was Lawsuit."
It was a great turn out on the plaza. A lot of the old Lawsuit parents came out, greyer, more stooped, more wrinkled, at least one with artificial knees, one looking like she had a stroke.
Kevin Desmond, representing all of the Pinata group came in from his home on the far side of Sacramento. Shown here with Ned and Sara "Sarge" Clanton, the owner of Stone Soup Catering. Norm and Olivia came up from Petaluma and brought Alice Nan with them.
The five of us went to the concert together and were able to get parking steps from the stage (thank you, Gilbert).
We visited with the guys while they were setting up and then went to the Mexican restaurant whose wall is the back of the stage. We could sit there enjoying our margaritas and keep track of what was happening on the plaza.
While we were sitting there, Jeri's high school band teacher came in. He and his wife were there for the concert too.
A woman sitting next to me saw my 1994 Red Roses shirt and asked me if I had any connection to Lawsuit, or was just a fan. I felt very old!
The Lawsuit kids (children of Lawsuit musicians) were now old enough to be in charge of the table where people could buy T-shirts and CDs. They are like our Pinata group kids!
There were three sets. The first was by the Corner Laughters, with whom KC (from Lawsuit) plays. I had not heard them before and really liked their music.
The third set was Adrian West, who was never part of Lawsuit, except for a few guest appearances, but has had his own group in the Bay Area for years. His wife, Jennifer, is the former mayor of Emeryville and also an occasional singer with one of the bands. In fact, she and Adrian did their first duet together tonight.
But everyone was there to see Preoccupied Pipers, which also promised old Lawsuit music. I forget how good these guys are. I got all verklempt when Paul's best friend Kag sang a song that Paul used to sing and was accompanied not only by the Lawsuit guys, but also his son, Milo, on the trombone. Milo was born a couple of years after Paul died, and is the first of the Lawsuit babies. His middle name is "Travis" because Kag wanted to name him after Paul, but Kag's real first name is Paul so insted he chose to name him after Travis Bickle, from Taxi Driver, Paul's favorite movie and favorite character.
"Anything" is an emotional song anyway, Paul's diatribe about all the things wrong in his life, particularly his love life. I never really liked it when he sang it. He always screamed it in anger. When Kag sang it, the screams were just as bone chilling, but perhaps more anguish than anger, and I was sobbing by the time he finished it.
UPDATE: This is the video of that song (I'd forgotten that he went into a "Paul-type" dance at the end and the song was dedicated to Paul
I'd forgotten how much Lawsuit brought people to the dance floor. People who had been sitting there listening to the concert and shouting their approval at all the music leaped to their feet when a Lawsuit song started and the dancing area was full of bouncing bodies, and they all bounced up and down just like they used to do, at the end of "I am a couch" (a popular song that I'm sure I inspired, as its first lines are: "I am a couch, and I live in a messy house...")
The finale of the Preoccupied Pipers set was Jon Lee, who has been on the tech crew forever, singing "Picturebook Pretty." I will eventually have a link to the video I took. But I got this great shot of Jon controlling the lights with his iPad. How things have changed in 20 years!
(and by the way, Walt and Ned put up all those lights on the trees two nights ago)
UPDATE: The video of Jon is here
When the concert was over, I brought out a tres leches cake to celebrate Ned's birthday (which is Monday) and then we came home. I was too tired to start this journal then, but woke up at 2 or 3 and started writing it then, but took a break to try and take a "nap." But then the house started shaking and the dogs started barking. There was a 6.1 earthquake near here. It didn't hit us very hard, but apparently my cousin in the Napa Area had glassware knocked off of shelves.
Facebook lit up with comments from people from the far reaches, from Sacramento to Santa Cruz, everyone comparing notes on how they felt it or the damage it did. The Davis Enterprise weighed in with information it had with the comment "since you're all already awake..."
It's now 4:30 a.m. and I'm going to try to sleep again. The
news seems to have died down and the videos I took haven't uploaded yet, so I can take
advantage of this lull in activity to try to sleep a little.
Photo of the Day
Day 55: This just tickled me so much.
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