The Sob Sisters show was a lot of fun, as well as you can imagine a show featuring two cellists, several ukuleles, a musical saw, slide whistle and kazoo might go. I was very impressed by Renee's singing, as she sounds very much like a 1930s American folk singer. Well-suited for the songs she got to sing. The last song of the evening was this pretty working of Mister Sandman that became more of a lullabye than the song's ever been before.
The two acts before were rather dandy, one of them featuring a fellow on banjo who'd played at modpixie's benefit a few weeks back, who has a most amazing natural amplifier in his voicebox. Lordy can he project. What he may lack in subtlety he more than makes up for with brute force and, well, you could really harness some power with them pipes. The pianist in the second act had me really excited during the first number, as he wore a severe dark suit and equally severe chapeau and played a Kurt Weill-esque ditty. I was hoping the entire act would be like that, but then he took off his hat and gave in to more modern pieces, the kind of original compositions that are better brooded over in a large, empty, mohogany mansion than played in a cabaret setting. He did finish his set with a nice Depeche Mode cover, and I couldn't fault that.
Afterwards, modpixie and I chatted on the way back to Davis Square. She told me a bit more about her film project, and explained that one of the reasons why she was filming it at the Brooks Estate in Medford was because she's from Medford. After time spent trying to get away from the insider's pain of the hometown stigma, she came back and realized she could do good in helping to showcase and keep alive the good, historical parts of the city, so that people see more in it than just "big hair and Kiss 108." (I realize there was a third thing she mentioned in the laundry list of stereotypes, but I've conveniently forgotten it. Hey, it's 4 AM.)
I think that's an absolutely wonderful idea, being no stranger to hometown, well, shame. I think it starts in adolescence, when you grow to resent everything familiar and nurturing to you. Perhaps it's one of those things that motivates you to make that Big Move Out. May even help the transition some. And, eventually, when you've been away long enough and come to miss the things that shaped you early on, and possibly even feel bad for callously abandoning them, you go back and make peace in whatever way you can find. One of my hometowns is Shutesbury ("not Shrewsbury", as my suggested town motto went) which is known for... well, not much, really. It's in the mountains. In the 1930s, several of the town's families were featured in a case study as part of an argument for eugenics. Yeah, that's one hell of a charming legacy to have. Luckily my family showed up fifty years later.
When I started getting those adolescent pangs of wanting to get out and do stuff, the lack of anything in the town frustrated and annoyed me. Farm animals were having more fun than us kids. But once I got out into the Big City (and stopped staring, slack-jawed, at them buildings what're over TEN STORIES HIGH) I realized there's a lot more good to a quiet, rural place than I thought before. I can't go for a walk in Somerville and find, buried in the deep, fragrant pine forest, a 150-year-old house foundation. I can't go research the land in the tiny, dusty town library, then go back to the foundation, sit around for a while, and think. In Somerville I can go read some nifty historical plaques, though.
So when faced with a hometown problem like this, you can emphasize all the reasons why you eventually got the hell out of there, or you can go back and re-examine the things, possibly unknown to you at the time of your earlier departure, that make it unique and good. Maybe nobody else but you will come out of that with a better understanding of where it is you came from, but hey. I can't say I'd ever use Shutesbury as a location for any films, but, well, let's just say that certain wooded areas that Star Parker and Mike McKenzie have been known to run around in closely resemble some overgrown logging roads and sand quarries I knew as a kid. (If you don't know Star and Mike, don't worry. You'll meet them yet someday.)
I did one time make a kickin' overhead map of the area I lived in once I found it on a satellite image. Some of it's cool. Other parts of it are rather bittersweet, but that's life for you. I'm trying to think up a suitable closer for this, and the phrase "You are where you make of it" keeps floating around and while that's not entirely sense-making by any means, it's got that so-oblique-it's-profound quality to it, much like "No matter where you go, there you are." So I'm keeping it. You are where you make of it. And if you think you can explain or expound on it, feel free.