Monday, November 9, 2009
Mirliton turns into Bywater Altamont
Ratty Scurvics got things going in fine style at what was billed as the 20th Mirliton festival. The Markey Park event took place in perfect weather and drew a large but manageable crowd including a lot of kids and a growing number of politicians. Jackie Clarkson seems intent on policing this crowd personally each year but unfortunatly she left before the fisticuffs broke out. You know she would have landed a sucker punch on somebody in the fracas. Hurray for the Riff Raff started out a little slow but ended up winning over the crowd with its strong songwriting and vocals. Guitar Lightning Lee tore it up in anticipation of his Saturday night throwdown at Melvin's, then hung out on his motorcycle to catch the R. Scully Rough 7 which did not disappoint a suddenly animated crowd. With Ratty back on keyboards Scully took no prisoners. Happy Talk band was even better with Luke Allen singing and playing guitar, Alex McMurray on electric guitar, Helen Gillet on cello and Mark Bingham on bass. McMurray and Gillet challenged each other with magnificent virtuoso turns and things got so hot that toward the end of the set some loon charged through the crowd yelling "Stop it!" Stop it!" When he reached the front of the stage, hands waving in the air, he apparently said something about Alex McMurray's mother because McMurray charged off the stage after him. Bingham, looking extra mad, dove immediately into the fracas. The whole exchange almost seemed like it was the opening act of the Fringe Festival but the guy did get thrown out so I guess it was all real. "I think he objected to Alex writhing around on the stage" observed Bingham. If Jazzfest 40 was Woodstock 40 redux, this was the Bywater Altamont. Fortunately DJ Jubilee was up next to chill everybody out before McMurray re-introduced the mayhem leading the Valparaiso Men's Chorus with Schatzy on accordion, Matt Perrine on sousaphone and a "chorus" of up to 20 men and Jonathan Freilich singing famous sea chanties such as "Give Me Some Time to Back That Ass Up." Mirliton executives rewarded the crowd by offering free beer toward the end of the set, which could have turned into another riot except they ran out and everyone when over to Markey's for another drink.