Maestro Allegedly Not Bitten by Tarantula
But he went gloriously spider-man apeshit on the piano
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
11:09AM, Fri. Apr. 27, 2012
So, yeah, Graham Reynolds.
That longhaired leader of the Golden Arm Trio and the polymath maestro of, well, Jesus, a whole bunch of amazing shit, really. He bought three Italian tambourines – big ol' things, about the size of manhole covers – and had them shipped to his studio as quickly as possible, for incorporating into compositions for The Night of theTarantula, the combination concert-and-feast created in partnership with Lucky Sibilla of Lucky's Puccias. As part of the Hank Cathey-honcho'd Digestible Feats track of this year's sprawling Fusebox Festival.
$65 said I was there,
and I'd been saving my shekels for just such a thing.
There: Inside the Fusebox Festival Hub, which is the soaring warehouse space at 1100 East Fifth, where the TOPS used-office-furniture business used to be located. Inside a structure rising like a reverse, art-stained cavern into the shadows above you as you take your place among the elegant array of white-linen'd tables near a stage crowded with musicians and their instruments.
Reynolds actually bought four giant tambourines from that store in Italy, but only three of them had arrived in time for to have the jingle-jangle tar beat out of them for the night's sonic extravaganza.
Sonic and culinary extravaganza, yes, lest we forget:
Five courses of food prepared by Lucky Sibilla and his crew,
accompanied by tarantella-inflected, body-thumping ear-feasts.
(Tarantella-inflected tarantellas. Tarantella-inflected reggae. Tarantella in the style of a Julio Iglesias song, even, composed by Reynolds as an homage to Sibilla's mom and beginning with a gorgeous upright bass solo plucked and fretted by Utah Hamrick. Music that, when it wasn't flowing softly, was more like a freight-train full of mad, percussive Italians slamming enjoyably into your aural cortex. Music that, really, beggared description. As did the food.)
(And blogposts can't go on forever. They're not like Puff the Magic Dragon.
Not even like a tarantella-inflected Puff the Magic Dragon.
No, see: Blogposts, although digital, are more like little Jackie Paper.)
(He loved that rascal Puff.)
So, the food? Oh! Freshly baked flatbread; a fine variety of olives; thick pastes of pureed tomatoes, of smashed garlic, of black olives gone all puttanesca; a clutch of different oils and vinegars from local bastion Con' Olio; vegetables – eggplants and sweet peppers of all colors – grilled with garlic and mint; stuffed portobello mushrooms; artichoke salad; eggplant parmigiana; veggie sandwiches (those are puccias, yes); mashed fava beans with broccolini; Mediterranean-style couscous; mini pizzas with marinara and olives and capers …
Sometimes only a James Brown sample will suffice: Good GAWD, y'all!
And all of it paired with, lubricated by, handmade cocktails and Italian wines. And, at the end of the evening – everyone's guts distended like young Jackie Chan's belly in that restaurant scene near the beginning of Drunken Master – at the end of the evening, Paula's Texas Lemon, that local and nonpareil limoncello, was tinted with mint to accompany dessert: Miniature peanut-butter-and-jelly puccias(!)
And so we strolled out of the Fusebox Festival Hub, pretty much waddling, all of us; sated with sound, turgid with gustatory pleasure; recalling the descriptions of Italy's Puglia region as described by maestro Reynolds, the impetus behind Digestible Feats by impresario Cathey; reassured by the knowledge that Lucky's Puccias will continue to be sold from their trailer behind The Tiniest Bar In Texas (and right outside the Fusebox Hub, too, while the festival rolls on), and that a few of these tarantella-inflected jams will eventually be recorded & released as part of the Golden Arm Trio's Culinary Compositions project.
Ah, just thinking about it makes me want to frolic in the autumn mist in a land called ATX.