Song written by Peter Vermeersch
Performed by Flat Earth Society
Sometimes I get lucky.
Many years ago, I went shopping for dinner with my brother and we divvied up the tasks. Among other things, I had to get the salad dressing. He looked at me with sadness in his eyes when I returned with my selection. “Why did you get this?” “I don’t know. It looked good.” “Have you ever had it before?” “No, but I thought it’d be good to try something different.” “But there are dressings that people actually like. You could have gotten one of those.” “But then we’d never know if we liked this one…” We ended up buying two salad dressings in a fit of extravagance. I liked the new one. (Bear in mind that this may not be an exact transcription of events from decades ago.) Now that we have established a penchant for trying new things…
We are fortunate to live in a small city with a great annual jazz festival, among other perks. Any brief perusal of the lineup makes it clear that too much is scheduled over eight days to see even a small percentage. While the selections vary from year to year, you are also guaranteed a bevy of acts that you have never heard of. Many groups come from abroad and most tour the world, but few are played on pop radio.
So, you have to pick and choose. Many of the acts step well outside of any resemblance to jazz music, playing variations on folk, pop, rock, funk, and soul. Even the jazz acts will skew their repertoire toward more popular tunes when they are playing the free outdoor tents. That’s all good. It goes well with the street food- artichoke french and blueberry macaroons. I did mention a penchant for something different, didn’t I?
In the picking and choosing what to see indoors, we try to mix in something billed as different or odd or unusual or unique or offbeat or wacky or pushing the boundaries- you get the idea. The truth is that once you have grown up with Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, Philip Glass, and Eric Dolphy, among many, many others. The creatively unusual can be great, but it takes a lot to surprise.
Really, we have not had great luck with our choices. As it turns out, unusual et al can be pretty tedious and self-indulgent. Who’d’ve thunk? Five minutes of that can go a long way while an hour or more can be a rough journey for an audience. The fact is that my too-weird-to-take may be right up your alley, so these artists may well have something that I merely don’t recognize.
So, this was the fifteenth year of the festival and we have hung in there with our let’s-give-this-a-try attitude. Imagine our joy to find Flat Earth Society. Surrounded by a beautiful Lutheran church, they played their own wonderful, unexpected tunes with humor and brilliant technique, and shades of so much that came before with an energy that spoke of discovery and freedom and happiness and walking through the fire. New discoveries assure us that the future will take care of itself.
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 251 more to go.
New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out are released regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry are posted irregularly. Notifications are posted on Facebook which you can receive by friending or following Craig.