|Concert Performances: Leeds, West Yorkshire (March 14, 1996)|
[Leo plays "William Powell"]
[Leo plays "Regards from Chuck Pink"]
[Leo plays "I Yell at Traffic/Room Service at the Tahiti Motel" medley]
Is that a cricket? What is that? It was almost in the pocket there but just not quite. It's a cricket isn't it? Or is it a compressor or something. It's a huge cricket. I should -- besides identifying flora and fauna -- I should probably say a few words of hello and so forth. I realize this is necessary and therefore I open my mouth but I warn you I have nothing to say and that I only speak out of courtesy, because it's a show business imperative and also just courtesy.
I used to think that covered it but I realized about a year ago there's something deeper going on. You can tell -- I mean in speaking to an audience, you can tell -- by what happens when you say nothing at all. There's a tension that grows in the crowd and it becomes hostility before very long. And if you examine that in greater detail I think what's at work is when you say something to the crowd, even if you're just babbling away like I seem to be, the crowd...it's not just courtesy, you're not letting the crowd know that you know they're there, which of course is comforting to an audience. I think more comforting, you're letting your audience know you know you're here. It's important for me to know that and by recognizing you, I demonstrate that knowledge not only to you, my audience, but to myself.
And having located myself, I'll now sing a song that really has to be sung with a little bit of an explanation. The lyrics of this thing are so filled with good cheer and hope and so forth that it's a perfectly nauseating tune. You'll see what I mean. So for those of us who suffer from a reaction to that kind of think, you're in for a more tragic view of it. I can tell you that this was written for a wedding by a guy named Eddie Reeves and Alex Harvey, two guys. The wedding was two friends of theirs, so I suppose you couldn't say in the chorus "Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it." They were compelled to say what they're saying here. But the wedding ended in a marriage of course and I think, to our greater comfort by the time this tune is over, the marriage ended in a divorce.
[Leo plays "Rings"]
Thank you. This is a song that only I seem to love. I play this again and again and my audiences tend to go get a beer or whatever. I remain unfazed by this and continue to play it. It's a sentimental favourite of mind. I heard this first when I was a trombone player playing my first professional gig. I was paid in sausages. It's an ignoble start to what was a non-existent career at that time. At the annual Aunt Jemima pancake breakfast in Muskogee, Oklahoma. And I ate all those sausages and my trombone smelled like a wiener for a week. I went home to -- I played with a friend of mine, Jack Hannah, and his dad on baritone saxophone. We went home and I heard -- this was my first exposure to this piece, an arrangement by Jimmy Giuffre, the jazz clarinetist, for piano, clarinet and bass. Years and years later I hired a guitar player [Tim Sparks] -- who became an oud player in the interim between my hiring him and his giving me the arrangement -- to arrange this tune for guitar. So what I'd like to play now is an arrangement by an oud player for guitar from a piece arranged for piano, clarinet and bass by a clarinet player of a piece written by Carla Bley for the trombone.
[Leo plays "Jesus Maria"]
And I was new in town. I was always new in town. My folks moved every year to two years and the people I wanted to hang out with were a gang. And they all had a puchuco [?] tattoo, which is a crucifix with a dot at each end. So I thought if I got a dot maybe they would stop ignoring me. I started with the dot and stopped. The dot was more than I could bear and the though of an entire crucifix surrounded by dots was just beyond my imagining.
So instead I would hang out across the street from where these other characters hung out. They allowed me to remain on the opposite side of the street. They hung out in front of a pawnshop who was doing business -- I don't know if it's called a pawnshop anywhere else but Cheyenne but it's a store full of crap and you go in there and you have it for next to nothing. Or you can bring crap in and they'll give you some -- a nickel for it. So, with no business, the guy hung a speaker outside his front door and began playing records to attract the commercial population and of course it didn't work but I'm playing this tune because of that owner, possibly.
[Leo plays "Sleepwalk"]
I recently visited Mons-en-Baroeul [?] resort centre of the east. Stuck my head out of the window into that all-spoof [?] soup and contracted a flu that I got rid of about 10 minutes ago. There are residual effects. Some of them [are] gagging and losing oxygen rapidly and staggering across the stage. It's one of the more visual aspects of my show. If it weren't for that, there wouldn't be any visual aspects. Actually, standing up is a helluva big development for me. I took a big breath one day and tried it. And it struck me -- how exciting is it that somebody walks out on stage and sits down?
Although in Mons-en-Baroeul wanted to be rolled out on a trolley. It was one helluva night. What a town. Very hard to get through there without becoming upset. I should say that I quit touring to any extent outside of the States, excluding Australia, because there's a promoter there that's just a great guy to work for, a genius at the job. Anyhow, I quit practically everywhere else and I haven't been doing too much of it so I'm in the process of reviving my career in the U.K. and Europe and it's been going great. And I'd say that even if I was stiffing out here. But what I'm getting at is I'm delighted to see you here.
[Leo plays "Pamela Brown"]
Thank you. I've started performing just at the tail end of several of these careers that were played out by people like [Mississippi] Fred Macdowell or John Hurt of Son House even -- most of them were these Delta players who played this outrageously rhythmic stuff. This begins with a piece that sounds sort of like Blind Blake who I'd never met, who was dead long before I was alive.
But I like to mention Fred Macdowell who played in Minneapolis, which is my home town and his guitar was crushed that day by the airline which is part of their job description, is to crush guitars. And he didn't seem too upset by the fact and he bought another one on the way in from the airport -- an Olympia guitar I remember. And the promoter introduced me to him as a local guitar player. I played around town, that was it. So Fred gets up on stage and was having a horrible time of it. It wasn't good. And all of a sudden he said "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the world's greatest guitar player, Leo Kotay. Leo, come on up." And the audience growled and wanted to strangle me and I couldn't say no -- I could have said no and I probably should have but I thought that might be rude and I went up and I grabbed his guitar and I said [mumbles] "Why are you doing this to me?" and he handed it to me and I went to play it and he'd put a kitchen match under the nut here which meant that the strings were that far up off the neck. I can't play it like that and I said "Fred, give me your slide" and he gave me his slide.
This is a slide. These are for sale by the way. I designed these -- order these from Brickson manufacturing in St. Paul, Minnesota. They're one of the only two federally approved explosion-proof latch manufacturers in the United States. What could be better than that? I only found out a year ago that that means they make the latches for pizza ovens. Proud of that. So maybe it's the hint of oregano that makes these things sound so good.
So Fred handed me his slide and it was a beef bone about that long. And I died up there. But I got my revenge later on and my reward because we went to a party together and there was a woman there named Dotty Caldwell who was absolutely statuesque and Fred was smitten with her. There was about an 80-year age difference between the two of them and that meant more to Dotty than it did to Fred. It mean absolutely nothing to Fred. Except perhaps to increase her allure. And he saw her -- I was talking to him -- and he saw her over there, walked over there, said a few words, she walked away. I thought that would be it but he...I went over and talked to Fred some more, just who he wanted to see -- and he kept an eye on her and he walked toward her again. And what he didn't know, or had forgotten, was that his shoes squeaked. He had on patent leather shoes, very tight new patent leather shoes, and they squeaked. And as he approached her, he squeaked. So heard him coming, didn't see him and she just vanished around the next corner.
He chased her around the house that way without knowing how she was eluding him. And I loved it, I thought he deserved every bit of that rejection -- and finally he gave up. He became thoroughly depressed, that was obvious, and he sat down with the guitar, closed his eyes and played for three hours. Everybody at the party ignored him except for me. It was a great thing. And this is slightly reminiscent of what he was doing [starts to play "Available Space"]. That's a lie, but how else am I going to get to it? When I'm done with this, I'm going to take a short break, they'd like to sell some product here. And then I'll be back. Please come back. I have dreams about this, I come back and the audience doesn't.
[Leo plays "Available Space/June Bug/Train and the Gate" medley]
[Leo plays "Corinna Corinna"] [Applause]
Wow. [tuning] Very sharp. This was written in 12/8 time. If I had known I was doing that when I was writing it I wouldn't have been able to finish the damn thing.
[Leo plays "Times Twelve"]
[There's a gap in the recording here....]
I, as I have said, am not manic-depressive but I'm quite cyclothymic. Proud of it too. This was written and sung, recorded. it was a hit for a guy named Sal Valentino as I was told two days ago. He died last year. If a weasel could sing it would sound like Sal Valentino. If a corn-cob could sing it would sound like a harmonica. I'm not a fan of harp. Somebody, I wish I could remember who said this, said that Sonny Terry, the great harmonica player, said that he played a harmonica as if it should be played.
[Leo plays "You Tell Me Why"]
[Leo plays a new, untitled tune]
What do you call that last thing?
That one? That doesn't have a name yet. I wrote that during the flooding of my motel room in Sydney, Australia. I couldn't get off the couch, you know. This was plugged in, everything was plugged in. I was forced to write that tune.
[Leo plays "Across the Street"]
[Applause] [Leo plays "Room at the Top of the Stairs"]
The only woman I ever knew who lived at the top of some stairs was an old bat in Einemount, Michigan. I was five or six years old so she was about 23 probably -- she had a stamp collection that I lusted after, I didn't...I was five years old. I would go up to her door, knock on the door, and say "Hi, how are you?" And she'd say "Fine, how are you?" She knew what I was there for but no, she just had to drag it out and punish me for being so duplicitous and disingenuous and such a little bastard, you know what I mean? Finally, sooner or later, I had to say "Well, how's your stamps?" "Fine" "Can I look at them?" I didn't get to look at her stamps.
Something of the same was operating when I thought of my Aunt Frances. That's how I'd like to finish tonight, by playing a song that I wrote for her. I had met her once when I was five years old and later on when I was 22 years old and broke and starving and sick in Los Angeles, I remembered my Aunt Frances and she lived around there somewhere so I knocked on her door after finding out where that was and hit her up for some cash and pretended I'd known her all my life and to my amazement she pretended the same and gave me some money, got me out of the hole I was in and I promptly forgot all about her so a few years later I had this sudden wave of guilt and decided to write a song for her and, you know, big deal, but -- fortunately, since I never do anything I intend to do, I already had one written lying around. It just didn't have a title yet.
So I put it on the record but I misspelled her name. There's a masculine and a feminine spelling and now my Aunt Frances, her spelling's the same as the one for that mule in the movies. But I think it's still a nice piece. So thank you for your attention. Thank's for listening and I hope I see you here again next year. I'll probably be back.
[Leo plays "My Aunt Francis"]
[Leo plays "Oddball"]
[Audience demands encore]
[Leo plays "Jack Fig"]
[Leo starts to play "Arms of Mary"]
My first manager's -- Frank Zappa's first drummer was my first manager. He fired him after six months. I kept him around for 12 years. This is called "Lying in the Arms of Mary." It was a big hit here for the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver. It was a vocal, I don't know the words. So it's an instrumental now. And I always like to mention what Frank said when somebody asked him why he named his daughter Moon Unit and he said, "What should I call her? Mary?" In memory of the late great Frank we can think of this tonight as "Lying in the Arms of Moon Unit."
[Leo plays "Arms of Mary"]
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