Friday, June 26, 2009

By their boots you shall know them

In traditional music culture in Ireland, if you're a stranger, it's inadvisable to walk into a pub session carrying an instrument case. If they don't know you, and you walk in with a fiddle (or, worse still, a guitar) over your shoulder, then you've put the locals in an awkward position: they either have to totally ignore your existence, or feel obligated to invite you to play. Particularly given the fact that (a) they're there mostly to play with each other, and (b) they don't know you, in west-of-Ireland social aesthetics, this is pushy.

So instead, you leave the instrument in the car, and you wait for the time to come when one of the locals comes to say hello. It may take a while, but sooner or later, in their own (not your) good time), someone will introduce themselves. That's when you can say, "well, yes, I do play a bit," which in turn gives them the option of saying "well, have you an instrument with you?", at which point you say "well, it's in the boot." then they'll invite you; then you'll find your way in.

So, what's in the boot--or the back seat--can reveal more than a little bit of who you are.

No blasphemy intended, but it occurs to me, as I'm leaving the county-line booze store, home of the (soon to be eradicated because Lubbock has finally entered the 20th-century as regards liquor laws) monopolizing corporations, that looking into the back seat of my car actually paints a reasonably complete picture. In mine:

Item: 2 big cardboard boxes, empty, with bags of those horrible little styrofoam packing peanuts: to be given to senior student packing frantically for a year at Oxford.

Item: six long-overdue university library books on African-American vernacular dance: fruit of one day's research foray for minstrelsy project which the travel in first half of summer has effectively prevented me from even touching--but which I'm going to have to crank up in the next two weeks, as there's a paper on the topic to give in London second weekend of May.

Item: beautiful, now-worn wooden sign reading "Music Tonight," painted by same senior student five years ago when we first started up our current pub session in new digs.

Item: a fistful of "green" avoid-the-plastic recyclable grocery bags.

Item: crumpled, supposedly "no-wrinkle" suit jacket worn, in an attempt to respectablize oneself the slightest bit, at three different Master's and Doctoral defenses this week--all three of which sailed through with flying colors, making me very proud.

Item(s): a half-dozen bottles of a light white called Gruene Weltliner, which Dharmonia and I first had in Vienna, where you can blow the whole afternoon at a cafe on a carafe that costs about 4 Euro, and which I just found at a ridiculously low price (score! guess the West Texans can't read the label); 4 of Murphy's, my favorite Irish stout; a half-case of Mexican beer to replenish the cooler at buddy Coop's little music shebeen where the pub session happens tonight.

Item (in the boot): six boxes of CDs I appear on, never yet migrated out of the car from whatever was the last gig where we needed them for the merchandise table.

Item (in the boot): leftover programs from the Seventh Annual Celtic Christmas, a fundraiser for the vernacular music scholarship I founded here.

Item(s) (in the boot): various mix stands,music stands, rucksacks of gear, etc, et al.

I love my life.

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