Monday, April 19, 2010

Shearing Day, April 19th, 2010

Our annual alpaca shearing day was today at my sis's farm down in Franklin County. A total of 25 head were shorn today, and unbelievably in a relatively short amount of time.

In years past, this dreaded day has been spread out over two days and the past three years has become a nearly twelve hour event. Last year 21 head shorn in 11 hours and 40 minutes. Today, we sheared 25 in three hours.

This year we hired a crew of four young men who really know their way around the world of alpacas. Not only did the 25 get a much needed haircut, but toenails got trimmed, teeth got shortened and fighting teeth were removed.

The stress time on the animals was amazingly short this year, and we can only hope that this will now set a precedent for many, many years to come.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Remembering Summer Heat, Part Nine

After the fiasco at the Lincoln Center for Franklin College, we returned to our home turf, namely the Rush County Fairgrounds Community Building, and we continued with what we were most comfortable with, which was playing to our hometown fans. Although most of those next hometown shows proved to be fun but uneventful, we had a chance to return to Greensburg and play for the High School once again.

This time, the dance was without a theme, a different crowd seemed to be in attendance that night, and for some reason a large number of boring and show off types seemed to be there. Our buddy Val was nowhere to be seen this time around, which came as a forewarning to me that this was NOT going to be the same type of show we had played last time here.

I can't remember the reason why, but Jim was not going to be able to play this show. We decided that Bill would be a great fit, since he came to most of our hometown dances and pretty much knew our repetoire. Bill filling in for Jim would work out just fine and we were sure he would have no problem drumming to our music. This proved totally right and more than once that evening I recall Jay telling Bill how much BETTER a drummer he was than Jim.

I was without my fake long hair this particular night, even though I had showed up at Mike's with it on. A vote was taken by 3 fathers that I should leave the hair at home and not show up with it on that night. Ah, what the hell, at least we were going to be going back to where the crowd really loved us last time.

From the get go when we started setting up, we had a small group of "locals" who seemed intent on making us feel uncomfortable. Not a single one of these guys made an attempt to even ask if they could help us carry any of our equipment in. They stood back, watched us, made snide remarks quietly that they all laughed loudly at while we brought in our equipment and set it up.

Flip had left Rushville by this time, so we knew we would be minus our plate smasher that night, but we had no idea how lucky he was that he wouldn't be there for what lie ahead of us for the next three hours or so.

We actually started playing before a large crowd got there, more as a sound check for us than an actual start, but once we got to playing those first couple of songs, things just seemed to fall into place and we entertained the small group of students that had decided to forego going to the game.

Little by little the crowd started getting bigger, but it wasn't as large a crowd as the first time we had played there. The first time we had played there it was to an after basketball game crowd, and if memory serves me correctly, this time it was an after football game crowd. What difference that might have possibly made is beyond me, but it did indeed make a difference on this particular night.

We hadn't even gotten thru our first set when the first requests of the evening started coming in. Requests for top 40 tunes, bubble-gum music, and the dreaded request for something by the Cowsills.

People we yelling at us to play something off current radio, and I'm not talking rock radio, I'm talking off of AM rock stations, which mostly consisted of boring music that we simply didn't play.

We took our first break and a couple of the "locals" who had been there while we were setting up asked us if we knew any GOOD music, and could we stop playing that hard rock crap we were playing. It felt like someone was pouring acid on top of our heads, and no, not the LSD kind, either.

During break, Denny and I started trying to figure out just what the hell was going on with the crowd tonight. How could a crowd that had been so into our thing a few months ago mutate into something like a top 40 bubble gum crowd?

We started off set two with something by either Zeppelin or Hendrix, and the tension in the crowd grew. We could feel the resentment in the eyes of those in the crowd. It didn't feel like we had one person in that audience that was enjoying anything we were playing. During the last ten minutes of that second set, after we had delivered some killer rock songs, a lot of the crowd simply stood or sat down and quit dancing.

Denny walked over to mike and looked out at the crowd and asked them if anyone wanted to hear any Steppenwolf. A few mumbles came back at him, to which he turned and looked at us and said,"Let's give 'em The Pusher."

We did, but this time we added nothing extra, no smashing guitars, no attempt at crowd shocking, just a really damned good delivery of a great rock tune. As soon as it was over, we took our final break of the evening and started our plan of attack during our third and final set.

Bill had brought along with him a spiral notebook of poems he had written. I still don't know why he had brought it along, but I'm ever so glad to this day that he did. It would prove to be the accelerant we needed to push this group of "fans" over their collective edges.

We started our third set off with something totally bizarre, which I can't remember now, but it was more or less the type of song this crowd had been wanting all night. During the instrumental part of the song Denny once again walked over to his mic and looked over at me and asked me over the mic, "Charlie, did you know Greensburg had such a plastic group of people in it like the ones who are here tonight?"

I walked over to an open mic and answered him back." No, Denny, I didn't, but these folks seem to have a monopoly on the plastic industry tonight."

Jay walked back over to his mic and finished up the last verse of this really intensely rotten song and laughed most of the way thru it until the end.

As soon as that song was over, Denny grabbed Bill's book of poetry and started reading a poem to the crowd. No background music, no explanation as to what he was doing, just started reading a poem over the PA. Mouths dropped open in the audience, people started hollering for music, but Denny kept right on reading.

When he finished, Bill took the book and started reading a poem. That was followed by Jay reading one. Boos started coming up from the crowd, and despite the fact that this was a school sponsored dance, a barrage of cuss words came from the crowd and pretty much told us how much they loved our show and what we were doing. You could not only hear the anger and the hatred in those words, you could see it on the faces of a lot of those close to the stage.

We jumped into "Communication Breakdown" by Zeppelin and it was a totally rocking performance. It didn't seem to matter though, because most of our dancing audience had exited already. During the next 3 or 4 songs our crowd of over 200 had shrunk to probably about 30, and most of those were guys.

This didn't look pretty at this moment in time.

I can't remember what song we finished that final set with, but I do remember Jay telling the crowd that this would be our last song and he hoped if we ever came back to play there again that we had a totally different audience in attendance.

Thankfully for us, a number of teachers and chaperones remained after we finished. We carried our equipment out to the van, not taking our time, because a large number of the local jerks positioned themselves along the corridor to our exit. As we carried our equipment out, low spoken threats were made to us, pretty much assuring us that once we left the school we wouldn't make it out of Greensburg alive.

I'm not sure if any of the teachers or chaperones would have stopped any violence or not that night, because you could tell by the disgusted looks on their faces that they weren't Summer Heat fans either. They did come down to where the van was parked and more or less supervised us loading up, and when a couple of the "locals" stepped closer to the van, they were escorted on out of the building.

I watched as they left and watched as they got into automobiles in the parking lot and started them up, but a few of those vehicles stayed, appartently waiting on us.

As we finished loading up, one of the adults present shut the doors to the school behind us and locked them, leaving us outside to face whatever fate lie ahead for us.

I'm not sure if was merely by coincidence or if someone had made a call, but as we were getting into the van, a police car pulled into the parking lot and stopped. We started up the van and the car we had brought and slowly pulled out towards the exit to the street. Luckily, the police car followed us out of the parking lot.

The locals in their cars apparently decided not to follow us out and "take care" of us as we left Greensburg, probably because we had an officer of the law right behind us.

As we pulled out of town right before the SR3 and I74 interchange, the police car pulled into a business lot and headed back to town.

As great as our first show was in Greensburg a few months before, this one had been a total opposite.

Needless to say, we never played Greensburg High School again.

to be continued.....

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Keep Mowin', Mowin', Mowin'...

My brother in law came out Thursday evening and replaced a $4.50 primer bulb on the John Deere push mower and it started on the very first crank.

Friday after work I was able to push mow my entire yard, including my "oh, hell!" hill. The yard looks great and it will probably need another trim by Tuesday.

The extra excercise I'm giving myself by NOT using the John Deere rider is probably doing me a world of good.

Spring had definitely sprung!