Anniversary Celebration Road Trip, Part Deux
or Francis + Phoenixville = our coolest day EVAH!
Okay, so our morning after Rhett began with a surprise phone call to our good bud, Confabulatin' Bill. He lives northeast of Philly, but works about one hour east of his home essentially putting him halfway between Teaneck, NJ and Phoenixville, PA.
We don't get to see Bill nearly enough. He's a great guy and so much fun to be around. He's smart and hip and quick-witted and just... delightfully ... goofy. He's always making up shit...long, drawn out, circuitous declarations which are always highly entertaining, hence the "Confabulatin'" moniker. We miss him immensely.
So we both we're pumped by the the opportunity to lunch with him. Billy gave us a tour of his work digs--he's an uber talented graphic designer--then we set out to dine on some really kick-assed sushi. The conversation spanned such varied topics as how religion and science are related through their cousin wonder (what the?).. to starting up an online t-shirt shop called "I Eat Edamame" with a bumpy cartoon blow fish as its logo.. to the Japanese name for the long trail of poop often spotted on oblivious goldfish--King Yo Nic Yo or something. I'm sure I've butchered it. Anyway...big fun!
After getting refueled on Sushi and Bill-isms, we set out for Phoenixville. I thought P-ville was going to be some drab, Hicksville in the middle of nowhere since we had such difficulty booking a room. Turns out it's quite lovely. The main street is in the middle of a restoration which has lured a number of really cool, off-beat shops, art galleries, loads of upscale pubs and restaurants and one groovy coffee house which happened to be hosting our dear Francis. Who knew? The lone, single screen theater is the same theater where "The Blob" starring Steve McQueen was filmed. Every August the town hosts a Blobfest where patrons watch the film and enact certain bits like fleeing the theater and screaming in the streets. Sounds like it could be fun to do some day.
We had several hours to kill before the concert, so Geo and I roamed around shopping, drinking beer and Cosmos at the pizzeria and chatting up the locals. I'm not sure if it's because we're from the Burgh or it's our age (or both), but we seem to always find ourselves yakking it up with strangers.
So we finally set out for the concert. Geo was heading for the car to retrieve Steelers Super Bowl shirts for Francis and Tony, the merchandise man who travels with Francis.
(Okay...short back story about Tony. We're in our first house concert hosts' kitchen when Tony
-who's from NJ but is wearing a Pirates shirt--walks in, points at Geo and says "Hey, I know you". He remembered Geo from the last club date at Club Cafe. We kibitzed with him for a while, took pictures, yadda yadda... Then when we headed to Philly to see Francis at The Tin Angel, Tony recognized us again and took a jump photo with us.)
Okay, now back to the story...
There was a lone figure walking towards us. It was, you guessed it because I totally broadcast this whole bit so now it's not a surprise anymore, Tony!! He looks at me and says, "Hey, Pittsburgh! You're the guys that made me jump. Kate said you might be here." He gave us both a huge hug (a man hug for Geo of course) and asked if we wanted to join him while he retrieved Francis from the restaurant down the street.
So there we are, in the middle of this restaurant shooting the shit with Francis Dunnery! How cool is this!! Francis greets us like we're long lost buds, big hugs and smiles. Geo was beaming from ear to ear. Seriously. Then we get invited to tag along for the sound check as their guests. So we plop ourselves down and Francis launches into Geo's favorite song, "The Only Thing".
Are you kidding me? A private performance of our favorite song? Double Cool! It's like this whole day is turning into one big Cosmic Kiss on the mouth...with tongue. The beauty is Francis did his "Tall, Blonde Helicopter" show, so "The Only Thing" was a bonus for us only. I like to think of it as the Cosmos rewarding Geo for tolerating yet another Rhett Miller show. At any rate, the show was fan-freaking-tastic--almost like being at a house concert.
I couldn't find "The Only Thing" on YouTube, but here's a great concert video of "Hometown". Enjoy!
Afterwards we helped Francis pack up his car, said our thanks and goodbyes to him (more hugging--I do loves the hugging--it's the Italian in me) and headed to a pub to shoot the breeze for a couple of hours with Tony. We had such a great time. Tony told some fabulous stories about life on the road with Francis.
One of the tales revolved around a guy I know who refused to let us into his house concert. I was really pissed at the time, because, you know, we're such huge Francis fans. I couldn't believe he wouldn't squeeze us in. What a tool.
Aaaah...but karma took care of him.
So Francis is doing his thing...singing, telling stories, engaging the crowd which Tony says was perhaps the best audience vibe they had in a long, long while, when the dude shouts from the front row, "Hey, how about you stop talking and just sing the songs."
For reals. Can you believe it. Seriously. Dude...that is soooooo wrong! What an ASSHAT.
What happened next made us love Francis even more. He ended the concert right then. Said goodnight. Gave back the money. Packed up his stuff and left. How awesome is that?!
So this cat is begging him to stay... apologizing... calling Tony's cell phone constantly... Too late! You suck! You're done. Ahahahaha!!! How beautiful is that? You gotta love the karmic payback. Needless to say this guy is persona non gratta to the MAX!
Next thing you know, it's 1:15 am and Tony still has to drive to NJ. We say our goodbyes (more hugs) and part ways. As Geo and I strolled back to our hotel, we could not wipe the smiles from our faces. We looked at each other and giggled a bit.
What a cool, cool day....