Saturday, July 20, 2013

trout fishing in heckscher park

This past Wednesday was another free concert -- this time Trout Fishing in America at Heckscher Park in Huntington. It was part of the 48th Annual Huntington Arts Festival. Every year Huntington puts on a series of free concerts in the park. I've seen TFiA there a couple times before. Others I've seen there include Carlene Carter (country music royalty), and Mallory Lewis (daughter of Shari Lewis).

One thing I noticed was that it was an unusually short set. I don't know if that was because of the heat, or their exhaustion (they had driven down during the day from Mohonk Mountain House). Yet they hung around afterwards to sign autographs and take pictures. They were playing with some of the kids in attendance. Ezra marvelled at the bullfrog that my daughter (or was it the younger of my sons?) had caught in the pond. In a way I'm glad he was off doing something else when the kids came back fifteen minutes later with the duck they had caught.

Most of the set consisted of the songs one might expect from TFiA. "My Hair Had a Party Last Night," "18 Wheels on a Big Rig," "Pico De Gallo." It was great when they played "Simon Says," since we were at the show with a HelpXer named Simon. I was surprised that they didn't play "100 Little Ducks." Keith seems to really hate that song -- I honestly don't know if that's real or an affectation for the act. I do have two comments (one positive and one negative) about the set list.

The negative: They played "Don't Touch My Stuff." This is a recent song that Keith and Ezra wrote in response to their van being broken into (and many of their musical instruments being stolen). It's an angry song -- and I certainly understand that -- and it just doesn't fit properly in their show. Their songs are happy and playful. Or wistful. But not angry. That angry chorus and that loud driving bass line sound jarring in one of their concerts. I realize that it's cathartic, but I'll be happy when they retire it from their regular set list. That said, I would like to hear a studio version of the song. Just not on one of their albums, where it will sound similarly out of place. Maybe they can release it as a non-album single?

The positive: "Lullaby" was the penultimate song. That is one of those Trout songs that I love. When I hear it I just close my eyes and think "This is my favorite song of theirs." Of course, there are quite a few songs that I react that way to -- "King of My Mountain" and "No Matter What Goes Right" come to mind -- so the word favorite kind of loses its meaning. But still. That's just one of those perfect songs that I wish I'd written.

Following are live videos of "Don't Touch My Stuff" and "Lullaby." Neither is from the show we were at, but enjoy them anyway.

Three more notes regarding Trout:
Fred Bogert doesn't tour with Trout anymore, which is a shame. I still like the music, but they had more freedom with a third person on stage. On the piano, Fred made "We weary Deer" something special. Of course, they don't do that song anymore, so I guess that's not an issue. I also really appreciated Fred. After one of their shows (more than five years ago) I spoke to Fred about music, songwriting and making demos. He was wonderfully gracious, and even gave me his email address. After a few emails he recommended a studio in Nashville that he said could produce good demos. County Q Studios produced my demo of "Jackpot," and that is by far the best-quality demo I have. But I believe Fred stopped touring in order to devote more time to his wife. I could be wrong about that, but I have a vague recollection of Keith or Ezra telling me that. At any rate, I wish him well, even if I miss seeing him perform with the others.

They are now working on their next album, Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers, which is slated for release later this year. It can be preordered from their website,

Keith and Ezra definitely seem to recognize my family at their New York area shows. I'm not narcissistic enough to think they know our names or anything, but still... Actually, I have mixed feelings about their apparent recognition. As a fan, I am gratified by a connection that I feel as if I have with the musician. On the other hand, I wish they would get more of the recognition they deserve. It would be great if so many New Yorkers would realize how great these musicians are that they would never recognize us within the huge crowds that are swarming to see them.

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