Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
Winnipeg is the Emerald City of the Canadian Fringe circuit. All touring performers dream of it ” if things aren’t going well, it’ll get better there. If things are going well, well, they’ll go even better. All will be OK in Winnipeg.
I had a great run in Toronto, where I’ve just come from. I was doing my own show, “American Squatter,” as well as understudying for my friend Keir Cutler’s show. It was busy and fun and focused, and the day after I finished performing I hopped in the van and drove to Winnipeg ” 24 hours of driving. I got to The Peg just in time to pull into the place I’ll be staying and then race to my technical rehearsal. I threw a banana into my bag as I ran out the door, hoping to get a chance to eat it in a few minutes, once I arrived and was able to sit down. I arrived and was not able to sit down. I finished the rehearsal three hours later and had to run to an interview.
Very excited for the interview ” TV press is great in Winnipeg. The camera starts rolling and the reporter asks, “So, what was it like doing Keir Cutler’s show in Toronto?”
See, Keir is a celebrity on the Fringe circuit, especially in Winnipeg. In fact, the Winnipeg Free Press review of a fringe show mentioned that it must be good, because Keir Cutler was in the audience on opening night.
So, I talk for five minutes about being Keir Cutler, trying to slip in mentions of the fact that I’m actually doing my own show. The next day, when the interview aired, they had edited out all references to my show.
I finish the interview and go to pick up my flyers that I’d had printed locally. While there I met fellow performer Jimmy Hogg, also picking up his flyers. We decided to spend the next few hours taping up flyers around the festival grounds ” a necessary part of fringing, and much more fun to do with someone else.
After an hour of taping little cards to awkward surfaces, I reach into my backpack to get more flyers and something feels … wrong. Something feels “I forgot that I put a banana in my bag this morning” wrong, a bag that also contains my computer, flyers, jacket, hat, etc. … Now everything, including my right hand, is coated with a thin layer of banana puree. It was if I’d put a banana in a blender with a little bit of water, poured it into my bag and shaken it all about. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I just really, really hate having sticky stuff on my hands.
The next morning I had a radio interview at 6:30. In the morning. This is a brutal number, but again, a live interview on CBC is not something you turn down, no matter how ungodly the hour.
I show up ready to self-promote, sit in the chair and the interviewer says, “So, a few months ago Keir Cutler called and asked if you’d like to do his show for him …”
Luckily, it was a live interview, so I was able to answer questions like this: “Well, the interesting thing about playing Keir Cutler is that I’m doing a show called ‘American Squatter’ at venue number 10, opening tomorrow night at 7:45.” And I did. Constantly. I’ll show them.
Now I know how Honeyboy Edwards feels.
Honeyboy Edwards is one of the last remaining bluesmen to have played with blues legend Robert Johnson, who died in 1938. Honeyboy is a great guitarist and vocalist, and has had a long, successful career; yet every time anyone interviews him about anything, they ask him what it was like hanging out with Robert Johnson. That’s what they all ask him. Always. Constantly. For 70 years.
Yeah … after four interviews about being Keir Cutler, I totally know how Honeyboy feels. And, if Honeyboy ever reaches into his bag one day to find it filled with mushed banana ” then he’ll know how I feel.
He’ll know what it’s really like to have the blues …
For Barry’s summer tour dates/banana recipes, visit http://www.barrysmith.com
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