Highlandtown: Journey to the Center of the Mind

Returned home not two hours’ time ago from the Bob Cummings Block Party in Highlandtown. Like Frank Drebin sez, “…that fondue party was real mind-bender.  It was a stone soul gas, man.”

This is the second such Bob Cummings Block Party, and the first one with a scheduled line-up of live music.  Last year, I was the only guy to answer the Call to Adventure; this year, there were quite a few.

I’d have loved to have gotten in earlier, but I was coming home from the Eastern Shore, whose roads are akin to Admiral Tug Benson’s lower intestine in that they clog very easily.  I couldn’t swear to being back on the proper side of the Chesapeake Bay by any specific time.  So I wound up being the closer.  Like Sparky Lyle.  No pressure.
I rolled into the neighborhood at 5:30 or so.  A band was  playing, and they were supremely wigged-out.  I mean, those guys were playing an impossibly dense, soaring, strange jams.  And the neighborhood folks just took it in stride, which calmed me down some. (I hadn’t had any time to practice my guitar on my vacation.  Damn kids wouldn’t go to bed; ocean flat wore me out.  What can I say, I’m devoted to boogie boarding. “Catch a wave and you’re picking that sand out your shorts.”)  The sun was high over the block; there wasn’t any appreciable shade until sixish.

I can’t say enough about the band that was playing when I arrived.  ArtHerius is their name.  Now, I say they’re weird and wigged-out and I say that not to belittle or insult; I’m just not used to band having that much ‘other-ness’ and technical skill at the same time.  For the most part, when you see a really weird dude make really weird music, more often than not, he’s a guy of average abilities who, for whatever reason, is a few bricks shy of a load.  And when you see guys who are really into their jams, a lot of the time they’re just stupefied over minutia; if they’ weren’t making music, they’d be declaring, “Fingers, maaaan, they’re, like, so weird. It’s weird to say: Fingers, maaaan.”  Here, I’ll throw you some Youtube:

You’re probably not convinced, but like a lot of live music things — me, for instance — that which is extremely impressive happening in front of one in real time and real sound neither lends itself to anecdote nor compressed streaming.

During ArtHerius’ set, I set out to find some soda pop.  I didn’t know it was for sale at the end of the bar; I went in there, saw an overserved couple raise their voices with each other and got my ass out of there.  Let someone else be the collateral damage!  So I walked up and down S. East Ave looking for a corner store.  I was unsuccessful at that, but I did notice that the band was actually louder two blocks away than at Ground Zero.  That’s Fender tube amps for you.

I managed to convince a high school buddy of mine to come on out; he’s extremely busy, and I’m a boring dork, so we’ve not seen much of one another since I got back home eleven years ago.  The point of having him come on out was not to subject him to my awful music; I was hoping we’d leave Highlandtown and go to one of the many failing and desperate corner yuppie joints down the hill in Canton and be creepy old dudes.  Eh, wooderya gonna do?

So I managed to do “not such a bad job” of closing out the music portion of the block party, left with the natural high that accompanies live performance.*  I rode East Ave down the hill to Canton, so as to slide in a quick auto tour of Fell’s Point.  What can I say? I miss being a young person from a hideously drab and awful suburb and rolling into the comparatively exciting Fell’s Point.  So I’m on Elliot Street headed west and I notice one of the cross streets is closed for a block party.  A rather genteel, skinny, young and well-dressed block party.  No live music.  Seems like a nightmare to me; why, they must all be in competition to find out what makes for the most grinding, trying conversations of them all:  one’s importance at work?  One’s diet and training regimen?  The preparation of cocktails that involve ‘muddling’ and ‘infusions?’  One’s giant dog?  The mind wobbles.

ADDENDUM: Oh, check this out!


*Haven’t come down yet; 12:10 am.


About rockiebee

Husband. Dad. Carpenter. Troubadour. Creative Director for an action figure theater troupe. Video director. Critic. Comics fan.
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