scarnella sacred grounds 12/12/99


I've noticed that the East Coasters on the list always post information on
Scarnella shows whereas us West Coasters don't bother. So....
The show was really cool. Scarnella played but one Scarnella song, closing
the set with Millenium Fever Ballad. Carla and Nels also treated us to some
Fibbers tunes--Outside of Town of course, and also Blast Off, Baby and Dragon
Lady. In addition they did a couple of Marianne Faithful songs and, perhaps, a
jazz ballad. Steve Hodges, who played with Smokey Hormel (they were cool) joined
on percussion on a couple of tunes. It was great hearing Fibbers material live
again. Carla sang exceptionally well, but then when doesn't she?
Dos was cool. Kira was really into it and Watt, for a change, was stoic.
The evening was finished off with a few jams involving Nels, Watt, Smokey,
and Hodges. They were damn good. I'm glad I went, considering my car got
rear-ended by a newly-transplanted Chicagoan earlier in the week and I feared it
wouldn't quite make the drive to Pedro.



people wrote:

<< If I missed an email that said the answer, I'm sorry, but can you tell me
what Fibbers songs they played? >>

<< I'm jealous. Okay, I need info from other people in the
group - which jazz ballad? Which Marianne songs?! How
did Dragon Lady sound Scarnella-ized? Which songs did
Steve Hodges play on?

i was in fact at the show and here's the information you'd all like to hear.

setlist (approximate)
-thought about you
-blast off baby (dedicated lovingly to mike watt)
-dragon lady (w/ stephen hodges)
-some marrianne faithfull song. something about lucy jordan, dedicated
lovingly to the women of san pedro and also mike watt)
-outside of town w/ a long intro
-some other marrianne faithfull song (not as lovingly dedicated to the men of
san pedro and featuring stephen hodges)
-a millenium fever ballad

the equipment setup was considerably different than most scarnella
performances. carla went bass-less and keyboard-less and played guitar on a
few songs. nels played the hagstrom, another blue guitar, and a bigass gibson
jazz guitar with the usual pedals. no jazzmaster in sight. dragon lady was,
um, odd scarnella-ized. before they started carla was kind of freaking out
because she forgot the words. luckily she remembered them in time and was
vocally flawless on the song. all the little loud-quiet parts were the same,
but the general sound was significantly different due to obvious reasons. it
was good good grande. mucho grande. and afterwards i casually slipped to nels
cline a copy of the new PTX-3000 tape and he seemed not particularly annoyed,
which is good.



"Thought About You"? I've heard a fair amount of Scarnella shows but none
which included this song so I was entirely surprised when they started with
it. The song created an intimate sort of mood and instantly it felt as if we
were all in some sort of supper club rather than a coffee shop with squeaky
chairs and tipsy tables... even though a few times the grinding of espresso
machines was nearly as loud as the performers. (Since I'm a coffee lover
this was easier to take than it might have been otherwise). I'm sure this is
old news to those who (unlike me) have listened to the recording of this song
that Randall has stashed away but Carla's voice lends itself so well to this
sort of material. Its easy to compare her to Billie Holiday, seeing as Billie
recorded a version of this song, but I would opine that Carla's voice is
stronger. And like B.H., shes got that little catch in her voice that makes
her sound vulnerable so we get the best of both worlds. Nels also sounds
great playing this style of music. His choices of notes seemed to be
floating out of nowhere and he ended the song with a fluid run of notes that
descended into a whisper of a chord.

Blast Off Baby came next and this also was a surprise. At first I didnt
recognise it cuz Nels was playing Bill's double-bass part on his guitar and
it even took a few seconds after the guitar part kicked in before I realised
what we were hearing. The Scarnella version was pretty true to the Fibbers
recording but both Carla's voice and Nels' guitar had a bit more wail in
them and the sparse instrumentation made the coffeeshop turned supperclub
feel more like someones front porch.

Of course the guitar riff that introduces Lilybelle was immediately
recognizable and while the verses sounded not-that-much-different-than-the
Fibbers the choruses also sounded wonderful and the effects/feedback
provided by Nels guitar compensated for their relative lack of volume.
Carla's voice cuts through strongly in the full G-Fibbers arrangment of the
song so you can imagine how they soared in this stripped down version. I
don't know if everyone could... but the people up front heard Nels backing
vocals quite well even though he was not mic.-ed and during part that follows
the "i can be quiet i can be loud" part I almost wished we were in a church
so the congregation could have contributed some backing vocals. Steve Hodges
played on this one, providing percussion that sounded not unlike, but more
appropriate than, the sounds occasionally coming from behind the coffee bar.

Next was Ballad Of Lucy Jordan.. the Marianne Faithfull song (written by
Shel Shilverstein who passed away earlier this year). Carla dedicated the
song to the ladies of San Pedro and considering the lyrics of the song and
what l've noticed the few times I've explored 'Pedro', this added to its
poignancy. The appearance of this song wasnt a total surprise as there were
rumors (of the internet kind) of Carla having performed this song when the
Fibbers toured with Golden Smog. Only recently had I tracked down the date of
the show and located someone who had taped it but I can't see how that
performance could have topped this one.

Next was an instrumental which reminded me a little of Heliotrope (from
Butch) but was actually the intro to Outside Of Town. Tonight the
instrumental parts weren't as rambunctious as they may have been on other
nights and the song fit well within the soft-pretty-sad-christmas theme of
the show

Earlier in the set Carla had hinted that they would be performing another
Marianne Faithfull song but it was still a jolt to hear Nels strum the
introductory chords to Times Square. In her autobiography MF said this was
her most desperate and hopeless record (despite its rather palatable
production) and hearing a song from it sung by someone with a voice as
expressive as CB's and accompanied by a guitar player as accomplished as Nels
(along with Hodges again) was... um... stunning. A few years back, before
Randall started this list possibly (and pre-Butch), I remember a discussion
about what would be a good MF song for the Fibbers to cover and my choice was
one of the ones from Faithless, her country-influenced LP, but if back then I
had even an inkling (heh heh, "inkling") of what CB/Fibbers had hidden up
their sleeves this song may've been one of my choices.

The set ended with what was really the only song that had been performed
all night that was expected... Millenium Fever Ballad. Before the show
started I had feared that various people would be calling out for this song
all night but the audience had been respectful, if not downright rapt, and it
was almost as if the deserving applause that followed the fading strains of
the recording of Auld Lang Syne was going to lead to a standing ovation. It
should have and maybe would have, if half the house hadnt been standing


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