(Adding The Stock)
I know I'm beating this "Gumbo Metaphor" to death, but this particular dish signifies clearly the process. Food preparation, assembly, and the techniques involved truly mirror how "Little Georgie And The Shuffling Hungarians" was pulled from theory into a tangible reality.
At this point in time, all of the foundational concepts that I could complete by myself were identified and clearly defined. The Roux had been rendered, and "The Holy Trinity" had been identified, chosen, chopped in the right amounts; blended into the roux. The basic armature had been pulled from theory to a loose manifestation of reality.
But ultimately, live performances and possible future recordings, like films, are collaborative vehicles. I could be the engine, but I still needed a car to get to the final destination point.
Second only to a perfectly rendered roux, a perfect Gumbo hinges upon the stock used to prepare it for its final finishing stages: the spices and additional ingredients, the timing of their entrance into the gumbo pot, and its cooking down process to blend the flavors of all of the pot's eventual contents.
You can use water, and you can used pre-packaged stock as well, but your Gumbo will suffer accordingly if you do.
Only homemade stock will do.
As mentioned previously, at the time of ultimate creation I had very few resources available to me at the time. I was unknowingly bi-polar crazy, suicidal, and dead broke. All I had was my brain and a modicum of musical talent.
That said, I did have access to a stock; beautifully made and created outside of all of this.
If that stock and the access to it did not exist, then all of this creative armature building would have been a totally pointless exercise. The existence of the stock was the insurance policy needed to commence the mental work necessary to finding the roux and the "Holy Trinity" in the first place.
I knew that if I could get the Gumbo to the point of having the stock added and heat applied, the rest of the process would just fall into place. It was going to start to look and smell like a mighty good gumbo, one that would generate a magnetic force of gravity that would pull all the other future crucial and ultimately very special and unique ingredients into its orbit; eventually convincing those ingredients to dive into the "Hungarian Gumbo Pot" of their own volition.
THE STOCK; MARK TIFFAULT AND PAUL LaRONDE A.K.A. THE RHYTHM DICKS
My association with The Rhythm Dicks started benignly enough. A local comedian by the name of Tom Kenney (Later to go on to fame and fortune as the voice talent behind "Sponge Bob Squarepants")wanted to reprise a one off gig in his old hometown of Syracuse, New York.
I had worked with Tom before. Gary Frenay had organized the original first one off gig of what was to be called "Tom Kenny and The Fabulous Pushballs" (For those unaware of The Upstate New York Volunteer Firemen Arena, Pushball is a form of tug of war played between departments using high pressure hoses and a large canvass ball attached to an elevated rope, utilizing public embarrassment and humiliation for fundraising purposes).
A couple of years later, Tom called me and asked if we could do it again, but this time, he put the responsibility of putting the band together squarely on my own shoulders, and gave me full autonomy over personnel decisions.
I had always been a sideman, parasitically joining bands that were well into their development phases. A gun for hire. Oddly, this would be the first time I had that responsibility and autonomy.
It would be the perfect time to be handed that type of autonomy. I found myself between “causes”: The Bogeymen’s record deal had just imploded, or was about to anyway simultaneously with my personal life. I needed to get my mind of off the shit side of my life and do something productive. It was a unique opportunity to build a “Dream Team”, even if it was to service the needs of a crack comedian to ultimately showcase his abilities. That level of creative and administrative control had never been felt by my hands. It was time to seize control, because all elements of my life as I knew it were wildly spinning out of control.
So if given the responsibility of constructing some thing of value, you start at the foundation. Mark and Paul got the first call, and they signed on for this singular gig.
When Tom sent me the source material of the show, it was way more on the Jump Blues side of things. They were still obscure novelty numbers from an era long gone, and Tom was (still is) an absolute scholarly musical archaeologist and archivist when it comes to these matters.
My concept of novelty blues began and ended with Bull Moose Jackson (“Big Ten Inch”), Roy Brown (“Keep On Churnin”), or a huge chunk of the Louis Jordan and his Tympani Five catalog. Tom dug up things that I had NEVER heard, and for me, that was a tough feat to accomplish. “Uh-Oh, Get Out of the Car?” “Cut It Out?” “Mickey Mouse Boarding House?”. “Drunk, by Joe “The Honeydripper’” Liggin’s little brother Jimmy , who used to be his bus driver?” This was a subterranean strata of the blues and rock and roll history that even I had never been exposed to, and I thought I was pretty well schooled at the time.
I still have those tapes. They are an absolute historical primer on how humor and the blues are related. If you were ever curious as to how intrinsically verbal and poetic humor is woven into the blues, rock and roll, and popular music in general, I suggest you talk to Spongebob Squarepants.
So now, at age 31, I was finally being handed the reigns, and how successful a race run was going to fall upon my jockeying abilities; and they at that point were untested.
The “New” Pushballs were formed around the rhythm section of Mark Tiffault, Paul “Big Daddy” LaRonde, and me. We busted our collective asses to be totally prepared for the future voice of Spongebob’s show. With the addition of Tim Harrington on guitar, and a killer sax section of Frank Grosso and Paulie Cerra, I again might have found myself once again the low man on the musical end of the totem pole, but I will take the credit for putting together and administrating a killer band of the very best that Syracuse had to offer.
Tom blew into town, and we played the show at the Zodiac Club. He was on fire, as per usual, and the band killed completely, adopting Tom’s “take no prisoners” mind set when it comes to performance.
Playing a Pushballs show is like being in the middle of a hurricane, and time compresses. It just blows by. At the end of them you always ask yourself these questions; “What in Hell’s name just happened? Was I even here for this? ”
Playing a show with Tom Kenney is an out of body experience.
In the aftermath of that show, Paul, Mark and I had a pow wow. We had worked so hard to build that set of material, it would be a shame to just let that workload go to waste. I floated the idea of just going out and playing as The Pushballs. I was the rehearsal vocalist anyway. I knew the tunes.
But I was totally untested as a vocalist and frontman. It was a huge risk for Mark and Paul to take professionally. They were on the forefront of the roots and blues scene, I was an interloper from the Rock and Roll world and a green horn as well.
But they took that leap of faith with me. I rounded up the rest of the Pushballs, and booked a series of 4 consecutive Wednesday shows at Club Zodiac, to try and snare some of the revellers heading to Armory Square after Party In The Plaza.
I’d like to say we were a smashing success, but we weren’t. Specifically, I wasn’t. No let me rephrase: I sucked. I couldn’t sing and play at the same time. I couldn’t sing. I was, (and still am to some degree)totally charismatically challenged. I didn’t even know how to count in a song half the time. It was a humbling experience.
After the four shows, it was “back to the woodshed”. Time to figure out the "Gumbo".
FROM THEORY TO REALITY (Taking Stock)
Let's skip back in time a bit.
When Mark and Paul started humping their gear up the stairs to my newly acquired second floor bachelor flat on Winton Street for the first time, I was as low as a human could possibly go. Completely bottomed out.
The Pushballs project fell into my lap, and truly, it was all I had to look forward to. Everything else in life was burned to the ground, and I knew it.
These two musicians were the absolute cream of the crop. The "A" list rhythm section, both with extensive professional resumes. In the midst of abject personal catastrophe, the Universe had decided to cut me a break, and delivered a huge gift, although at that moment wasn't recognized.
They set up in my front room. We really didn't know each other personally from Adam.
My piano faced the bay window overlooking Winton street. I asked if they just wanted to jam on something to warm up, because the source material tapes hadn't been distributed yet. I suggested Professor Longhair's classic "Tipitina" in F, started playing the rubato intro, and they just fell right in.
There was no eye contact between me and the amazingly sympathetic rhythm section playing behind me. They were a Godsend. They knew the tune, they knew the vagaries of style; They put their own unique spin on it, a spin developed over thousands of road miles and countless gigs in their former band The Kingsnakes, and their present project Built For Comfort. They were John Lee Hooker's back up band for chrissakes.
So in the midst of a complete meltdown, this is what was bestowed upon me. Absolute musical perfection. I dont know how long we jammed on "Tipitina" but by the end of it, I was convinced that somebody up there, did in fact like me. It was a sign.
I was going to have the opportunity to play with the best rhythm section I would ever get a chance to play with, even if it was just for one gig with the future Spongebob Squarepants.
I can't really get into their heads as to how they felt about making noise with me, but it went well enough for them to commit to doing the one-off Pushballs gig. The rehearsal source tapes were distributed, the first ten songs on the tape to be learned, and the second rehearsal scheduled.
The Pushballs project was all I had, and I threw myself into it. I trancribed all the lyrics to about forty tunes, charted them out, worked with the horn players to create charts. The "assembly line" system that I would employ in the future was developed right then. I could not waste Mark and Paul's time. Half-assing, phoning it in, and ultimately if that happened, failing, was not an option.
Rehearsals were focused, directed, and run with military precision. They came in totally prepared with a combined surgical eye aimed at the innards of all the material, and I was ready for them. I honestly didn't have anything else to do other than to dedicate myself to pulling it off on a 24/7 basis. My life, literally revolved around the once a week arrival of Mark and Paul to my Winton Street digs.
It was the only bright spot in my rather bleak existence.
By the time we assembled the whole band together for complete rehearsals, the three of us knew that we may be on to something, but that something hadn't really been defined at that point. We did know that the show with Tom Kenney would be pretty epic, but that was about it.
Maybe they recognized my dogged work ethic. Maybe they saw that I could be the potential complimentary engine to their already completely stylized car. I can't tell you what made them decide to sign on to the subsequent four shows at The Zodiac with a totally untested, destined to suck front person. Maybe it was just the extra dough to be made on an off night while they pursued their main project, Built For Comfort.
Whatever the reason, they were there. And after bombing mightily, they were still there, ready to make a transition into something else, and they left me to my own devices to create and define what that something else was going to be.
Mark and Paul were "The Stock". Perfectly cooked down and rendered, and lustily flavorful. Had they not given me access to their superlative talents, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to go into the tunnel of memory and find the critical components of the Gumbo. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to build that conceptual armature.
To say that there wouldn't be a band without them would truly be an understatement.
Those rehearsals were my life line. They extended it to me, and I grabbed it with all my might.
They saved my life. Period. I wouldn't be writing this blog today without them. I would have been long gone from this earthly existence.
The tenure of the Hungarians through their history was not without its bumps in the road. Some of those bumps could have been avoided, and some of them couldn't.
But when put in terms of giving thanks and finding true gratitude, I look back at that spring and summer, and I realize what really is important in this world.
I was close to dead, and they gave me the means and support over time to ressurect and re-invent myself, and they knew exactly what they were doing.
Its a debt, that can never be repaid. Ever.
As of this writing, The Dose has received over 19,500 legitimate page views in 63 daily injections. All I have asked of the general readership is that if you enjoyed what you just read, hit that little share button on the top right column of this site, or copy the blog address down, paste it in an email, and give a friend a taste.
The Dose's original intent and design was for it to be passed along and shared; sort of hoping that we could form a bond and a shared sense of responsibility between the content creation and its users active participation.
Unfortunately, my personal assessment is that its starting to look like a failed experiment.
It isn't without its harvestable aspects in the face of failure, and I don't regret the amount of time I spent writing 63 consecutive posts at all. I have learned so much by disciplining myself to produce quality writing to the best of my ability for 63 conescutive days. I can look myself in the mirror and honestly say that I gave my all, every little last particle of me. I did not phone it in, or take whoever might be reading The Dose for granted in anyway. I stayed true to principle.
I'm truly grateful to those of you that have read, and perhaps even been inspired by the Blog-O-Thon's content and message. I'm also especially grateful to the folks that took it upon themselves to realize their implied responsibility by enjoying the content, and then taking the time to hip their friends and family to the Blog-O-Thon.
Circumstances beyond my control have led me to a place where I can no longer devote the time to producing a quality reading experience for you daily.
Those circumstances were the result of broken promises made to me, and the collateral damge is that I no longer can keep my promise to you... everything, IS connected.
That isn't an excuse though. We are what we eat, and we are the choices we make. I sincerely apologize for breaking my promise, and seeming unaccountable.
Those circumstances coupled, with a rather tepid response of reader participation have led to this unfortunate resolution.
That's cool. I'm a big boy, and I can handle it. "I judge my forward progress and successes by the crushingly epic nature of my failures..."
If you are on facebook, I also started a page called "Little Georgie's Blog-O-Thon". Just search it, it will pop up. That will be the final publicly published Master Index for all of the past Dose Output, and any that might happen in the future.
The "Last Dispensary" as it were.
I love you all.
"You may shoot for the stars and end up in a back alley behind Pluto, beaten and bloodied, but at least I dare to dream, and that’s better than being Earthbound, mired in the muck of mediocrity.
I judge my forward progress and success by the crushingly epic nature of my failures.
The more epic the crash, the more I’m convinced I must be doing something right"
AS ALWAYS: PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT, SUBSCRIBE, AND SHARE THIS BLOG ADDRESS VIA COPY AND PASTE IN AN EMAIL, THROUGH THE TWITTER OR FACEBOOK "SHARE" BUTTONS,WORD OF MOUTH, FILTHY WHISPERED GOSSIP, FALSE NARRATIVE, TIN CAN AND STRING CONFIGURATIONS, PONY EXPRESS, OR CARRIER PIGEON. WITHOUT FEEDBACK OR ACTIVE "SHARING", WHAT YOU JUST READ.... DOESN'T EXIST!
COLONEL BEAUREGARD "IRON THIGHS" JEFFERSON, A.K.A. "THE MANAGEMENT"
Gary Frenay: A Testimony:
033.) "On Rhetorical Devices, Influences, and Making Art "Popular": The use of rhetoric as a velvet rope and associative strategy 1981-2011
055.) "Exploring Creative Processes: Part 1": An Introduction
056.) "Exploring Creative Processes: Part 2": What's In Your Gumbo?
057.) "Exploring Creative Processes Part 3": The Hard Wiring Of The Really Little Georgie 1960-1964
058.) "Party Time": A "Lake Boy" Tale
059.) "Exploring Creative Processes Part 4": The Test Of Time
060.) "Exploring Creative Processes Part 5": The Test Of Time
061.) "Exploring Creative Processes Part 6": Finding the Second of Three "Trinity" Components: The Green Pepper
062.) Exploring Creative Concepts Part 7: They Eat Green Bell Peppers in the Emerald City
063.) Exploring Creative Concepts Part 8: Finding The Celery: The final and third component of "The Holy Trinity"
064.)Exploring Creative Processes Part 9: The Celery Was As Green As An Invader From Mars (Integrating Core Marketing Concepts To Fuel Creative Content)