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Monday, October 26, 2009


Do I really need to start another band? My new script is starting to gel, even at this early stage. Ideas and hooks for the songs are flowing. I’m focused. Plus, I’ve got this blog to keep up. There’s three things I love that don’t make any sense, as they never made me a millionaire – writing alone in a well-lit room, working in a dark theater to get a new show up and running, and playing on stage with other musicians for an appreciative crowd. Today I talked it over with JJ Deluxe and he agreed to be part of a new band and that was basically enough for me to announce the formation of “Uke Jackson’s Snake Oil Elixir and 21st Century Medicine Show.”

Mr. Deluxe came by with a half bushel of hot peppers this morning and we talked while making some killer hot pepper relish. Deluxe played in two of my past bands – “Uke Jackson and the Radio Aces”, which was the home team for my radio show, and the “Delaware River Ukulele Guild” (do the initials). I also have to say that playing with JJ Deluxe over the years taught me more about making good music than anyone else. We also, obviously, share the hot pepper obsession.

One thing is that JJ Deluxe is first and foremost a trad jazz musician. My tastes tend to be a bit more eclectic. However, in our recent sessions playing tunes, he’s shown a willingness to go beyond the usual parameters (which include some of the best music ever written or played). Another thing, though, is that when playing with Deluxe the music comes from a place of relaxation and fun. So, I guess it’s not surprising that we’re off on another musical adventure.

I came across an old German proverb recently that, translated, reads: “Trees never touch the sky.” After mulling it over for awhile, its meaning became evident and it depressed me a bit, even though I recognize the truth in the statement. A band is a way to avoid being too rooted, I guess. So are theater productions. I'm the total of myself when collaborating to see a show realized on stage. How did I come to choose playing music as a fall back position to career as a playwright? I’m munching a handful of pistachios from a bowl while writing and another old saying comes to mind: “You are what you eat.”

Maybe starting a new band is nuts. But the whole world seems more than a little crazy right now, so what the hell. Live music makes life better.

Soon we’ll be folkin’ around on a stage. I’ve got a guitar player wants to play, and a gal fiddle player who will play with us when her schedule allows, though I’d entertain the idea of another fiddle player as first seat on that instrument just because this gal is so busy. I got a bag full of tambourines, maracas, shakers, bells and whistles for the young actress/singers who will be joining us for back up vocals. There are a couple nominees for washboard. We’re looking for a harmonica player, if you know someone, and a keyboardist might work, too. And, being a 21st century medicine show band, we have an expert on playing musical iPhone apps.

If you know any documentary maker who might want to make a film about a 21st Century medicine show band from inception at least thru the first gig, please send that person my way!

I’m designing the label for the Snake Oil Elixir. It will be sold from the stage and have a secret ingredient. There will be 2 sizes – large and small – and the bottles themselves will be collectible works of art. The Snake Oil Elixir will be better than Viagra, when topically applied and orally removed. It will only be available at gigs and maybe through my website. It will also cure neuritis, neuralgia, dog flu, and poverty. It will provide pep, vim and vigor to every minute of every day, and make you sleep better at night. Best get yours as soon as its available.

Fuck Big Pharma their endless TV commercials! Those touts of 4 hour erections got nothing on my 21st Century Medicine Show. We be live!

So, here’s a probable song list in no particular order, with one more quote first:

“The night before he swung
He sang to his mandolin.”
Willa Cather

King of the Road (Roger Miller)
Dang Me
Do Something (by Morton Downey Sr.)
Kansas City Kitty
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Take Me Home, Country Roads
When You’re Smiling
eBaying at the Ukulele Moon (by Yours Truly)
John Hardy
Round A Western Water Tank
I Can’t Give You Anything But Love

Bird on a Wire (Leonard Cohen)
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (The Band)
Tin Roof Blues
Struttin’ With Some Barbeque
Frankie and Johnny
Jack o’ Diamonds
A Cowboy's Life
Midnight in Moscow
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of This Jellyroll
Love Is Just Around the Corner

Limehouse Blues
16 Tons
Thick Stack of Hundred Dollar Bills
Back in the High Life (Steve Winwood)
Norwegian Wood (Beatles)
Will You Love Me Tomorrow
All of Me

And more tunes yet to be nominated by band members and decided upon collectively. We might never make any money but we’re going to have some fun!

1 comment:

  1. Well, this idea certainly evolved in a different direction.