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Core Samples

Jay Meehan, Record columnist

There were survivors. And that’s a good thing. Since the events unfolded I’ve seen a few and spoken to others. Most came through last weekend’s "Mountaintown Stages Music Crawl" fundraiser with their finer sensibilities pretty much intact which is how it should be when one gives up their body for the team.

With the passage of time, it is getting somewhat more difficult, hereabouts, to raise the bar when it comes to stepping outside the box and communing with the lesser gods. There was a time, however, when, as the illegal immigrants of the day, we ski bums adopted a "scorched-earth" policy when it came to Main Street.

Where, back then, hobnobbing with the recklessly uninhibited, unrestrained, undisciplined, frenzied, and orgiastic of the species kept one in shape for such activity, these days, with a good book and a cup of cocoa more often the norm, it’s all about maintaining an adequate stamina-to-Ibuprofin ratio.

But, when a good cause comes a-calling, you rearrange your agenda and, as Ken Kesey was wont to say, get on the bus. And although Neal Cassady wasn’t available for chauffeur duties, you successfully negotiate the maze until Park City lies directly within your crosshairs.

A gathering to celebrate Brian Richards’ ten years at the helm of Orion’s Music Shop got the vibe rollin’ in proper fashion. There’s nothing quite like roaming the aisles of your favorite music store with a freshly-concocted "tomato juice beverage" in tow while stalking an illusive trophy.

On such an auspicious occasion, one must consume. But one must also keep in mind that when saluting the local alternative culture, any slip toward the mainstream would miss the point. Of course, with Orion’s being an altar to most subterranean musical mindsets, the pickings are far from slim.

As when a dairy cow, upon entering the milk barn, heads straight for her stall, you find yourself moseyin’ down toward the jazz section. Your muse is allowed her head as she flips your fingers through the assembled collection of the old and the new. With the "Music Crawl" proper not getting underway until 7:00 p.m., you have nothing but time.

You have something in mind but the process has become too delicious to alter. Your selection will always conjure memories of this particular day of revelry, so, with the tomato juice getting better by the sip, what’s the hurry? As Thomas Stearns Eliot would say, "In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."

You perform a serpentine search of the premises, scanning each genre and sub-genre as you go. Bluegrass becomes blues becomes folk becomes a Taj Mahal box-set to-die-for. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, you get whiplash. That’s the problem! The joint has too many must-haves.

With Brian’s filing modus operandi constantly touching upon the obscure, it is often best to inquire when a particular recording artist is not in a neighborhood you would have assumed. The bias, however, is your own. Who’s to say "Reckless Kelly" isn’t "pop" or that Woody Guthrie isn’t "hip-hop?" Actually, that last part was fabricated for effect.

By the time you emerge at the front desk, you are, as they used to say, "holding." You are in possession. You’ve got the stuff, as it were. There is little doubt that your chosen artifact, even under intense scrutiny, will hold up well.

We need to go back to 1959, around the time of Buddy Holly’s plane crash and that seminal New York recording session for "Kind of Blue" where Miles Davis gathered Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Winton Kelly, and most notably for the mission at hand, Cannonball Adderly for a bit of ensemble improvisation.

A year previous it was Cannonball running a Blue Note session with Miles as "sideman." Entitled "Somethin’ Else" and featuring a definitive "Autumn Leaves," what made the album truly collectable was some classic mutterin’ from Miles at the end of "One For Daddy-O" where the horn icon asks the producer, "Is that what you wanted, Alfred?"

For the somewhat neurotic music buff in question, a more apropos link to Orion’s anniversary bash would be hard to come by. Is that veering from the mainstream enough for ya? The vibe was not unlike stumbling upon an obscure Pollack in Peggy Guggenheim’s closet.

How ’bout that muse? And, while we’re at it, let’s give it up for the red beverage with the lime wedge and the sprinkles on top. There are moments when the pressure of the moment requires a comforting influence and these are just such times.

And, as the fates would dictate, the color red would infuse the remainder of the evening as well. So as to more easily identify fellow members of the tribe once the evening got blurry, most merrymakers at the Mountaintown Stages Music Crawl wore red.

And, through some obscure process, the pigment continued to remain very much in evidence in the mirror the following morning. … Or was that afternoon? With highlights far too numerous to recount, a few the group "Mudpuddle’s" set at the Star Bar, the tasty blues of "Rick Welter & the Ides of Soul" at the Spur, and the wondrous blizzard parade down Main Street stood out.

Actually, with the haze lifting these few days later, fond recollections of "Wisebird" at Shabu and "Spearit" at "The Room at Harry-O’s" can be found clawing their way to the suface. Spearit had this fresh, clean, almost punkish sensibility that even the gray and portly, who might otherwise contort their target demographic, couldn’t budge.

Would that Orion’s Music Shop and Mountaintown Stages keep on keepin’ on. Keepin’ the faith in a town morphing at the speed of chic is no mean feat!

Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and a free-lance writer with a background in commercial and community radio, among other pursuits. He has been a columnist and feature writer for various Park City publications going back to 1973.


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