4/16/24: Laramie, Wyoming at the Lair with Warren K and Corned Beef

I rolled in into Laramie exhausted from the drive. It was a chilly night, and this town, where I’d never been before, has wide boulevards, western wear shops, saloon, and some nice old western architecture.Alex, who is with the local DIY outfit the Green House Collective had sent me a message saying he was at the venue and the door was open. But when I got there the door was locked, and I sent him a message saying as much. He emerged out of another door right beside the one I’d been trying to open… ah! that door…

The real door to the “Lair” opens onto a descending staircase lined with flyers from previous shows. A band called “The Pentagram String Band” caught my eye. The show space was nice and roomy, with a tiled mirrored wall, a large stage, even a nice creepy doll standing up in a dark corner (see pictures). As I explored the venue I discovered more and more space, including a big back room with couches and a futon.

I brought in my things and set them aside when a man in a ski mask came up and introduced himself. “Oh, I recognize you!” I joked, but he took me seriously and said he remembered me too… haha, oh no, I was only joking… This was Warren K, who would be opening up the show. Soon Corned Beef came in – William and ______ (I remember William’s name because he won the day’s Reese’s egg mentalism competition.) who would be DJing as the third and final act of the night. We were talking a bit and one audience member, Ella, came in. Alex said he thought he would get the show started at 8:45. I checked my phone, and it was 8:44. Wow, this would be the smallest audience yet – one!

Warren K went ahead and turned his beats on. His computer was sitting on a card table, each of whose legs was duct taped to a cinderblock to give it extra height. He rapped in a raspy, menacing voice, and Alex, Corned Beef, and Ella were dancing a little bit. I danced a little bit too to give what little energy I had. But I realized that it felt pretty good dancing after doing so much driving lately. I let my dancing brain take over, which does not know any actual steps but follows impulses that come from Who knows where… and Warren K seemed amused by whatever I was doing!

I decided that when I went onstage I would not give any less energy to the performance even though there was only one person in the audience. In fact, I would take it up a notch. I have an I Ching app on my phone and it landed on “Innocence” which advises to show joy and openness. OK, I felt like I could do that. And though I felt “heavy tired” when I pulled into town, I felt like I had plenty of energy now. Rolly Lighthouse opened the show in a more rapid-fire style than usual, with plenty of “Woo!”, high kicking, hands raised to sky, and spinning around. Then Big Kitty came out and sang his songs – and during this time the audience tripled in size, to arrive at the number of 3 – which is a pretty dramatic change. Tom, who also works with the Green House Collective, also showed up. I must say, that despite the small crowd, the atmosphere and the vibe was excellent. Everybody there was in a good, easygoing mood and wanting to have fun. They all listened to every word I was singing and they seemed to really dig it. I finished with a karaoke version of “Holiday God” and a flashy, clumsy dance like I used to do in Buck Dancing competitions (2nd place 2011 Calhoun, Georgia International String Band Convention).

And last of all came Corned Beef who did a joint DJ set, mixing up a bunch of dance music. Everybody danced, and I danced wilder than before, really enjoying the opportunity to shake the stiffness out of my bones.

At the end of the night, Tom invited me to stay on the futon in the back of the venue, but I decided to keep driving a bit, since Kansas City, the next stop on the tour, was a 10-hour drive away. So I drove off into the Wyoming night, which was actually getting colder and snowing, listening to Philip K. Dick’s short story “Minority Report” until I stopped at a rest stop in Ogallala, Nebraska to sleep for a few hours. I was back on the road by 7 am. Feeling surprisingly fresh (at least at first), I listened to the end of Geddy Lee’s autobiography, My Effin’ Life, which I suppose would make any Rush fan misty-eyed. As I drove into Kansas City for the first time, I talked to Naoko and Yuri who were just going to bed. I told Naoko about the huge meteorological and geographic changes I’d gone through in just a few short hours – snow in Wyoming, rainstorms in Nebraska, high winds in Iowa, and finally puffy clouds and blue skies in Missouri. She had just watched Woody Woodpecker and did a pretty good impression of his laugh.

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