I will make a token concession to the “proper” spelling up in the title, but don’t get used to it. If you want me to spell your name in a non-standard way, you’d better make it easy on me. lee harvey osmond? Fine. I mean, kd lang doesn’t make me reach for the Shift key. LEE HARVEY OSMOND? I could live with that. But LeE HARVeY OsMOND? You’re pushing your luck, pal.
Here is what I can tell you about Lee Harvey Osmond, apart from being named after the guy who killed Hitler for dropping an atomic bomb on Pearl Harbor: he’s Tom Wilson, also of both Blackie & The Rodeo Kings and Junkhouse. I know nothing about any of these bands. Mika will now try to remind me of Junkhouse songs I know and it will fail. I don’t know things, really. There’s one Lee Harvey Osmond song that Hawksley Workman sings on (Break Your Body); I found it by searching iTunes for new-to-me Hawksley songs. I like it well enough; better than the other Hawksley collaboration I found that day.
As ignorant as I am about Lee Harvey Osmond, I knew even less about our opener, Thompson Wilson. I saw Thompson’s name listed on the Exchange website and set about Googling. Not much came up for the first few pages. Eventually, I discovered that Thompson Wilson had opened for Tom Wilson before. Somewhere around here I put the name thing together and spent way too much time trying to decide if “Thompson Wilson” was just Tom Wilson playing another set under a different name, or if this was all some crazy coincidence. You probably guessed that Thompson is Tom’s son. You probably had that figured out by the end of the first sentence. I did not. It took me way too long to get to that point, to be honest. And then I felt dumb. And now I am sharing the dumb. May as well.
Though I am in danger of making this a new catchphrase, I have to say that this show very nearly didn’t happen for me. And for once, it wasn’t due to my innate laziness. I had a bit of a stomachache on Friday night. Thought little of it. Assumed I had eaten too much garbage. Still had it on Saturday morning. Still didn’t think much of it. Met my dad for lunch and ate more garbage. Did some shopping. Stomach got worse. By the time I came home with treasures (gluten-free bread and squares; new rear windshield wiper) (also presumably gluten-free), I was not feeling so hot and decided to have a lie-down. This was around 3:00. At 7:00, Mika checked on me but I didn’t feel much like moving. I texted Mark and told him I wasn’t likely to show up. But I got up and walked around and felt okay, and then decided to have some supper to see how that went. One big salad and a piece of cake later, and I was feeling… not GOOD, per se, but no worse than before. I opted to brave the show, thinking that I could always leave if I wasn’t feeling it.
The ticket – an actual paper ticket! – said that it was doors at 8:00, show at 9:00. I got there around 8:45 and Thompson Wilson was already playing. They took my ticket at the door and ripped it. That will teach that no-good lying ticket. I’ll take the half that I got to keep and display it as a warning to others.
I found a seat by the stuff table and within a minute, was listening to Wilson sing a song about a girl, specifically mentioning that “convict movies make her horny.” This was 1) hilarious and 2) oddly familiar to me. The song, I mean. I don’t get all worked up about convict movies. Are convict movies even really a thing? Like, there are enough of them to define a genre? I suppose humour is found in specificity. Anyway, Wilson mentioned that the song was called “In Spite of Ourselves” and a quick search of my iTunes playlist showed that it was a John Prine song – but I only knew of it because Geoff Berner covered it on his out-of-print live CD. I’m going to assume you all knew it was a Prine song because whenever I think “hey, did you know…” the answer is yes. Always, always yes.
Anyway, the rest of his set – at least what I saw of it – was quite enjoyable. Just him and a guitar, playing and singing his own songs. Why I mention this, I do not know. I trust you know how musicians work. Anyway, he had a CD at the stuff table and I’d have bought it had I stolen enough cash from Mika to buy anything more than a Diet Pepsi. I did check the iTunes store in hopes of making a cashless transaction, but it wasn’t on there. Later on, Tom Wilson noted that Thompson had spent the flight out west been burning his own CDs to sell. “I know he’s a man, but it was the cutest shit I’ve ever seen.”
As soon as Thompson finished up, the lady working the stuff table told me that there was never supposed to be a chair where my chair was, so she took it away and I was adrift. I bought the aforementioned Diet Pepsi and went for a stroll, soon finding Mark and everyone that he knew, which amounted to, seriously, like half the people there. Arlette was very concerned for my well-being. Mark and Jim were very concerned that I was not contagious. But I assured them I wasn’t (and, you know, I was pretty sure that I was probably telling the truth), so they found me a place to sit in their area.
Tom Wilson is an incredibly charismatic performer and if you ever get the chance to see him in any of his incarnations, I highly recommend it. He’s a great talker with a commanding presence. I won’t go into detail about what he said, but I will mention that his life story is balls-out insane and I’m looking forward to the memoir he’s releasing next year. Close to the end of the show, he read us the opening pages and I’m sad I don’t have the book right now.
He also talked about Carver, another of Mark’s friends. Carver and Wilson became friends somehow a while back, and it was through Carver (via Mark) that I bought my ticket in the first place. And yet he’s one of those guys I’ve probably been at 20 shows with but I don’t think we’ve ever actually been introduced. Or if it happened, it was years ago. Who knows? I should talk to the guy sometime when I don’t feel like I’ve just swallowed a ball of knives.
I never know what to actually say about the actual bands, especially ones I don’t know well, and I have about 10 minutes before we leave to see Ryan Boldt and Kacy & Clayton (speaking of musicians I don’t know well) so can I skip to the end and say this show was GREAT? Because it was super great. There was a full band (including Thompson on bass – “sometimes you have to make your own bass player”), though they came and went as the show went on, so there were solo songs, songs with just Wilson and the drummer, various combinations. With no Hawksley in attendance, they didn’t play Break Your Body, and I only recognized one song all night – Blue Moon Drive, and I only knew of it since the Prairie Dog was kind enough to link to the video of it before the show. Oh, and they skipped the leaving-the-stage part of the encore, opting to take a bow and immediately close out the show with a cover of “Six Days on the Road.” Anyway, this was just a great band, great songs, a fantastic evening.
Mika didn’t come with me – she opted against buying a ticket, thinking it wouldn’t be her thing. Maybe it wouldn’t? I think it would have been, but maybe staying home and getting caught up on Jane the Virgin is more her thing. I don’t know. Anyway, I went home and excitedly told her about what she missed. At this point, I was feeling pretty good. Healed by the power of music! Having beaten my illness into the ground, I decided to celebrate with some popcorn and hot chocolate. 10 minutes later, the knives returned and I spent the night in the guest room, thrashing around in gut discomfort. Don’t taunt the stomach knives.