Down East 2013 ©
If you’ve just discovered my blog, welcome aboard. If you’ve been following along you’ll recall that at the time of my last posting I was shoving off for a road trip to Washington and Aroostook counties. The plan was to drive to my camp in Washington County on February 12th, stay overnight, drive the back way to Presque Isle the next morning, stop for an interview at WAGM in Presque Isle at 10:30 a.m. then continue ( you won’t catch me saying “continue on" — my eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Bridell taught us that the phrase is a classic redundancy ) my journey for a show with the Shaw Brothers at The Caribou Performing Arts Center on Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th? I’m not a suspicious person by nature.
Considering what happened with this show perhaps I ought to rethink my position.
Two nights before the performance I received a phone call from Rick Shaw from their place in Florida. They were scheduled to fly into B.I.A. the following morning and drive up to Caribou for the show. Rick informed me that he’d been in the hospital all day with an attack ( is that what you call it? ) of kidney stones.
Whatever you call it he was in tremendous pain and clearly in no shape to travel. I’ve since been in touch and I’m pleased to report that he’s now on the mend. But when I hung up the phone after his call I was in full scramble mode trying to get a last minute replacement! Fortunately I know a lot of talented folks who will still take my phone calls late at night and by the next morning Steve Bither and The Wicked Good Band had agreed to fill in. Steve, as many of you know, is an old friend and collaborator of mine. We recently co-authored a book and in the early 1970s we performed together in several Portland-based bands, notably Maxwell Baggins Band and of course The Dubious Brothers.
The heart and soul of The Wicked Good Band is as follows; Steve on keyboard, Jerry De Waters on guitar and Bill Schultz on washtub bass, washboard and assorted percussion and sound effects instruments. They are usually joined by Robbie Coffin on lead guitar and may have other players with them depending on the gig. These three are the inspired source of all the musical hilarity onstage and their set in Caribou was just that…hilarious! I opened the show with a short monologue then explained that The Shaw Brothers had been forced to reschedule. Then I introduced the band and it didn’t take them long to connect with the large enthusiastic audience.
Steve’s first words were “The Shaw Brothers couldn’t make it…we’re The Hannaford Brothers.” The laughter kicked in and didn’t let up for the rest of the night.
Backstage before the show I’d asked the guys if they would play one of my favorites. It’s a parody of the folk song “They Call the Wind Mariah.” When they sing it, it morphs into the Maine-centric “ They Call the Town Machias” and includes lines like this:
There’s dreamers and there’s doers
Up here we’re mostly triers
But we can build a lobster boat
With duck tape and some pliers….MACHIAS!
Like me Steve, Bill and Jerry are native Mainers with a natural understanding of what it takes to crack up an audience in Caribou on a frigid February night. Their hastily concocted (ten minutes before show time ) new verse about Caribou brought the house down. So the show was a success and Bill Flagg at Cari Medical Center is working with me to re-schedule another show with The Shaw Brothers later this year. Check my website for details. On the way back to camp that after the show I fought 30 mph winds which managed to blow a thick ribbon of powdery snow at precisely windshield level for most of the three hour drive.
As I drove and reviewed the events of the day I recalled a comment my friend Mel had made when I stopped in at her Washington County variety store on my way north that morning. I knew Mel been hoping to see the Shaw Brothers live on stage and when I told about Rick’s sudden extremely painful bout of kidney stones she just gave me a knowing look and remarked “ Ayuh, they say a bad kidney stone is the closest a man will ever come to knowing what a woman feels like when she’s havin’ a baby!”. And people wonder where I get my material.
Tim Sample is a Maine comedian. Read more of his exploits here.