The Society Page

Grief and horror, goodness and grace

Most things don’t last, but a few things do. I usually use this space to flex my wit and expound upon my adventurous antics, but sometimes life calls for a more solemn reflection and an accounting of what really matters.

In early March, Portland lost one of her most prominent musical sons, trombonist Dave Noyes. Dave played in many Portland bands, including Royal HammerThe Rustic Overtones and The Fogcutters. He exemplified the unpretentious, familial attitude that is one of Portland’s greatest qualities. On April 3, the State Theatre hosted a memorial show, with all proceeds going to Dave’s family, called Good Grief. This is strength, this is community, this is who we are!

In a rare act of foresight, I actually got my ticket beforehand in expectation of a sold-out show. Like an Irish wake, the event was a weave of deep mourning for the loss of Dave and a celebration of his life and accomplishments. During the show, I was nerdishly feeding my notebook with a buffet of the names of all the performers and attendees, but then I realized this was one instance where my obsessive namedropping would tax readers’ patience past the point of endurance. So instead I’ll limit my report to highlights, of which there were many.

In addition to the three aforementioned bands, there were performances by Jaw GemsMicromasséThe Ghost of Paul Revere, and Kenya Hall Music. When Rustic played they had a string section composed of three violins, three violas and two cellos. Dave’s wife Anna Maria was one of the violists, and having her playing music that her husband composed, in a show dedicated to honoring his memory, felt right on so many levels.

When the show ended at 11, I went to the afterparty at Portland House of Music. On my way there I noticed that even the sign atop the “Time and Temperature Building” was paying tribute to Dave. The line to get into the venue extended out to the street, and many of the same faces from the State were there. The two shows had overlapped somewhat, but I still got to see Raging BrassModel Airplane, and Gina and The Red Eye Flight Crew. The occasion was solemn, but with more heartfelt cheers than tears.

As I’ve written before, I got gladly swept up in the swing-dance revival of the late ’90s. One of the big names in this movement was the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and on a Friday last month I saw them at Aura. Sadly, Aura had the gall to fill up the dance floor with folding chairs, making this a sit-down show rather than a whirlwind of mad dancing! Being a guy in a wheelchair, maybe I should just shut up.

Opening for the Zippers was the Portland band Viva and the Reinforcements, and Viva’s mom Natalie was at the show. Natalie and I share a similar strangeness but hadn’t hung out since last fall, so we stitched together a rough plan to hit Marcy’s Diner sometime in the coming weeks.

When the Zippers took the stage they were all decked out like circus ring masters. The message was clear: It’s time for some fun! The band exuded a dangerously dizzy sense of sexiness punctuated by tasty jazz fiddle and a frisky little banjo. During their last song, the musicians came down and snaked through the audience like a marching band, letting the audience really taste their presence. I was flying the flag with my notorious “Fuck Trump” hat, and some of the Zippers gave me props for that during after-show mingling. For such a humble waif, I sure do have a tricky tendency to vacuum up attention!

On an April Tuesday afternoon I went to the Nick to see the movie Us. While cruising down Congress StreetBollard editor Chris Busby was in slow-crawl traffic going the other way. Knowing of my infamous affinity for affable ignominy, he got my attention with some spirited speechifying and an enthusiastic middle finger. To return the favor I blew him a big wet kiss on the cheek.

I usually find horror movies boring, but Jordan Peele, who wrote, produced and directed Us, is known for breaking from the standard form. Peele used people’s raw emotions to show aspects of life typically ignored by our agreed consensus, and gave us a needle to deflate the Sisyphean burdenof our closet regrets. Us was pretty “out there,” but very satisfying.

When the credits stopped rolling, I started rolling my wheelchair up Free Street to get my ass back home. In one of the quaint synchronicities that seem to garnish my life with stubborn regularity, I again saw Busby, but this time he was on foot, so we got to chat about the delicious developments happening at The Bollard.

Sometimes life can make you feel like you’re stumbling down a path, crooked and absurd, that leads nowhere and costs you everything. That’s why we all have to be here for each other! No matter how hectic your life gets, don’t neglect to show the people you love just how much they mean to you. #ITSNEVERTOOLATE!!!