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Monday, November 1

saki's Seance

I'm not even sure where to start! So much to take in! It's been a full day since the event and I am still not finished processing it. I can testify that The Bitter Tears have again heaped on additional months to my therapy bills. By the time the show finally started, a nice crowd of dressed, undressed, dressed up, and all in between had gathered to witness. I know there was a lot of competition on a Halloween weekend, so we were super thankful for the support shown to saki and both of these groups, who put the thing on for free!
The Bitter Tears perform Scene One from their original play, "The Talking Skull."

The original idea, as pitched, was a band challenge based upon the theme of the Fox sisters, the wacky family who kicked off the Spiritualist movement at the turn of the Nineteenth Century. Each band would write two to four songs of original material and we'd see how it all went. Both bands took the blank slate and ran with it—very far and in opposite directions in a scary, colossal taffy pull.

To start off, we followed Mark Jumper by remote as he made his way to the stage from the catacombs. Once he made it out to us, he threw a few skulls out into the audience for luck or something. He also explained the story of the Fox sisters, and then got us in the mood by leading us in incantations means to start the flow of communication. It worked.

The new, robust lineup for Bob Dey's Tank Engine Man, who had been hard at work on secret rehearsals down in the CTD root cellar for at least a month, now features bass, keys and drums on top of Mark Jumper's guitar. They augmented this with a long mixtape of spooky music, which fittingly included a long Vincent Price narrated story about I don't know what and video, largely black and white, that was projected behind and onto the band as they played.  They attacked the theme head on but over the top, and essentially performed a forty minute rock opera based upon the Fox sisters narrative. As Pete pointed out, BDTEM definitely channeled some Krautrock, some Stereolab, some Laika, perhaps late period Beatles or early period Wings, and I don't know what else, and used it to tell the story from beginning, to sad and tragic end. At times, I was shocked at how adventurous and compelling this new music was. It easily stood on its own even without the visual stimuli and I hope that they will commit it to tape some how. All of them were very good and their secret hard work paid off in spades, but the drumming was especially great.

Now, The Bitter Tears...
After Bob Dey was finished, I heard them ask the BTs if they needed the stage monitor. They said no. How the heck could they play without one and why would anybody want to? We're proud to be one of the few stores that even has a monitor for the bands who play here—a rarity for sure and have yet to have a band turn it down! The reason quickly became clear. The Bitter Tears had chucked the entire idea of the theme out the window, and had instead written a full, three scene, one act musical play for Halloween. And it was plenty creepy!

Synopsis: An odd family with a monkeyboy for a son and a Sherlock Holmes anthropologist for a dad—we won't go into "mom"—finds a magic, talking skull in their couch. The previous occupant of said skull died on that very couch from watching too much TV. And we get to hear every show that he enjoyed—every show. The family heads out on a road trip with the skull, and are surprised to run into Count Dracula right here in middle America. Which is cool, except that he has something approaching a Bronx accent, swears a lot, can carry a tune, and remembers his lines! With me so far? So this is all going along quite normally, until we find out that the previous occupant of the skull and the good Count are long lost buddies who still have a deep admiration for each other...very deep. We are treated to the first love song duet that I can recall between an ex-patriot vampire and an animated (as in alive), talking skull. Of course, it culminates in a proposal of marriage and an immediate and gleeful acceptance. Now I won't spoil the ending of this little romp, but I can say that once they took the stage, pretty much nothing went as expected and we were all surprised, delighted, and disturbed by the nonstop musical action.

If you were unable to join us, we hope to get some video posted shortly. We'll shout when that finally happens and permissions are granted. This stuff deserves to be seen more widely and we look forward to making that happen if the quality holds up.


Thanks to the bands for their amazing time, energy, and creativity. Thanks to the employees who all stayed late to make this happen and come off without a hitch. Thanks to the friends, fans, and customers who came out in good numbers to support—some really great costumes among you, too! Thanks to Paulie and Hillary for setting the telescope up on the front sidewalk and providing some neat views of Jupiter and his moons until the clouds fully rolled in. And special thanks to Tyler for conceiving the entire thing, working hard to promote it, and making sure that the whole thing came off without any permanent (physical) injuries. A good time was had one and all. It greatly exceeded whatever expectations I had conjured.

Thanks everybody!

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