consonant soundcheck



DISCLAIMER: the following is "CREATIVE NON-FICTION". Quotations are close approximations of actual statements. Events might be truncated/telescoped for dramatic flow.

"They're down there," Mark Kates utters.

I look down the stairs, feeling very "Alice gulped a big wrong pill," and wonder if I can traverse this rabbit hole. My dramamined/sleep deprived 7:30 AM arrival has given way to hours of stagger/walk/sit/stagger-on pseudo-touristing--what to do when you can't check into your room till 2:00 PM? I'd felt divinely blessed to locate rather easily this "south of the border" establishment nestled in its recessed nook off a Charing Cross side street. Um, okay, even if every step seems to skew into six or seven mobile cubistic fragments, I guess I'd better give it a try. I grip the wall and inch on down.

The space proves larger than what I'd anticipated during my descent. The white washed walls and boarded up "faux" half moon windows accentuate the "Borderline" thematics. The stage, a smallish slightly elevated affair, stands "cornered" to the right of the stairway. While the bar is straight ahead beyond a flat area and small step up, the room opens up oddly further to the left of the bar. Um, not exactly the best organized space for optimum viewing, depending on the crowd size.

A voice:"Where's Peter?"---the afternoon/evening's verbal motif.

Indeed, this question, punctuated by Peter's appearances/disappearances, proves a through line thread for the soundcheck/dinnertime action. Perhaps my creaks on the stairs prompt thoughts of his imminent arrival. But, uh yeah, I'm definitely not Peter. All kinds of guys are on the stage, some familiar to me, some not. There's Chris Brokaw and Matt Kadane from consonant. One of their other bands, "The New Year", who's actually headlining the show, is in various stages of soundcheck modality. The conversation off stage exemplifies an ebullient atmosphere undergirded by a relaxed sense of anticipation. Goodwill is palpable.

curfew Clint is beaming, very up for the evening's activities. After a "Hi, Sheri" and various comments on the how, why and where of my arrival, Clint talks about their week so far. He's simply "amazed" by the ATP crowd Sunday and the whole festival. Now he's giving me a copy of the new promotional poster they're using. And, oh yeah, they're only playing 35 minutes. "What the hell is up with THAT?" I ask in a state of baffled/confused disappointment! Clint shrugs and informs me there is a "curfew".(Geeze, is this England or a Junior High sock hop?) They have to be finished and have everything out of the space by 11:00--when it turns into a disco!!! Since there are three sets (Chris Brokaw solo, consonant and The New Year) time is limited for all.

Another voice:"Where's Peter? Anybody seen him?" Muffled negative responses.

I tell Clint how excited I am that the CD is finally out and make some analytical nonsensical comments. Clint,ever the gracious gentleman, replies: "I'm glad you like it." Then suddenly SHE'S there.

Clint:"Sheri, have you met Holly?"

Sheri is in fact so excited to actually meet Holly Anderson that, within moments of their introduction, she has mindlessly launched into a full scale explanation of the analysis she's written based on Holly and Clint's songs. Holly, proving herself an outstanding human being, not only tolerates this outburst but actually voices enthusiastic approval for this line of thinking! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Oh, Sapphic Spirited Holly!!!!

Now I've cornered Jimmy Conley with my eternal quest:"Did they play 'New Nails' Sunday?" His negative response crushes my poor desirous heart.

Jimmy: "But you know they did practice it some before we left Boston. So you never know."

Ah, thin threads of hope tickle my soul.

Voices rise behind me; animated conversations intermingle! Enter the one and only Peter Prescott! um, a flurry of activity follows with Mark Kates in its wake.

consonant soundcheck

Now Peter sits alone at a raised table and takes in the surrounding activities from his perch. A mix of incisive analysis and mental acuity emanates from his person. I am totally intrigued.

Chris Brokaw "et alii" begin to play a song.

Clint:"Listen to this. I love this song. He's such a genius."

Like a room full of Alices we all gulp down this musical elixir and let its consciousness altering properties do their thing. Then, SNIP, someone's cut the ropes right when my swing was heading for the stars. The music has ceased; I fall to the ground. I look up toward Peter. Um, why not??

I walk on over, introduce myself and blather about for a moment. Then I get down to business:

Sheri: "Is there any chance you guys are gonna play "New Nails" at the Garage or this weekend at ATP?"

Peter, smiling slyly: "No".

Sheri: "But...but Jimmy just said you guys had practiced it some. I'm gonna cry if I don't get to hear that song live!!"

To his credit Mr.Prescott pleasantly overlooks my emotional outburst and amicably explains that "New Nails" is a complex song and they simply didn't yet have it worked out to their own satisfaction. Now in my mind this type of response denotes that there is hope. I mean maybe they'll all suddenly be inspired and realize that they had it more worked out than they thought. A girl's gotta have hope you know!

consonant soundcheck

consonant's on the stage now: Clint center stage, Tele in hand; Chris to his left; Winston to his right; and Matt Kadane snuggled behind his drum kit (memories of their 3/16 TT's formation). And even though I'm seated on the floor, I feel the ropes have been mended and once more I'm on a swing with music propelled hands pushing me toward the stars. All the sleep deprived/dramamine induced mind/body numbing lethargy dissipates into the breezes. A beauteous calm overcomes my soul. I float in that satisfied current caused by this longed for musical embrace. After all, I'd used more personal days to get off from work and rushed to flee the States so that I could reach England in time for this particular Tuesday evening event.I'd even just somehow wrenched myself from a too short physical collapse/near death nap. These debut chords of consonant's on such a distant shore nourish every inch of my being and infuse me with an ethereal elevated energy within which I navigate the rest of the evening. Even when the music stops, my skin still tingles.

I look up and over. Peter Prescott has vanished.

Holly invites me to go upstairs with them to eat. We all creak up and out of the back end of the rabbit hole into a Tex-Mex Tea Party of sorts--the Borderline upstairs being a full on restaurant/bar. Tables have been set out and some food's already ordered. I meet Peter Schmidt, Mike Donofrio and Matt's Brother, Bubba Kadane (the other members of The New Year).I tell ya'll, there's nuthin' like talkin' TEXAN with fellow down home Lone Star folk--oh, those Kadane bothers!

At the bar now, I see Peter Prescott on the far side of the restaurant.He walks the width of that room, turns and walks the opposite direction. Where's he gone? Or has he gone??.


Back at the Tea Party:

Jimmy: "Where is Peter now? Has anybody seen him?"

Sheri: "He went thattaway."

Exit Jimmy.

Chris: "I better get some food soon. Maybe I'll just have to eat and play."

Holly: "They STILL haven't brought your food?"

Exit Holly to the kitchen to rectify this thoroughly unacceptable state of affairs. Everyone smiles; there's nothing quite like Holly in action. You go girl!!

Within moments Chris has a Chicken Caesar Salad in front him.

Enter Jimmy with Peter. Renewed greetings all around.

Various voices:"Here's a seat, can sit here...go ahead and sit down"

Peter sits at an adjacent table, an ad hoc temporary Tea Party participant, Jimmy orders more food and conversations crowd the air. Then, seemingly only moment later, Peter has disappeared once more. Yet this time his silent exit proves a precursor to the Tea Party's end.

Time for Alice to re-enter the Borderline's rabbit hole: time for an entirely new adventure beyond the looking glass in a wonderland of sonic delights.


consonant | MISSION OF BURMA