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At last you can get your Jazzed Desserts!

After much fumbling about and a truly hideous number of hours editing, I’ve finally put together a show based on an idea I got from Fran Snyder of ConcertsInYourHome.com.

They’re essentially a “mini house concert.” A brief gathering of friends for food, conversation and live music in an intimate and approachable setting. They’re easy and inexpensive to host. They’re strictly acoustic so you won’t upset the neighbors. (But you should invite them, they’re a great way to strengthen existing friendships and forge new ones.)

I’m available solo for these shows and with my duo, Hobbit & Hare. Currently we’re limiting this to the greater Seattle area, but we could be convinced to roam a bit farther in the future.

Find out all the details here.

The Summer Look

This could be sub-titled, “A Tale Of Two Gifts.”

The background
For the last couple summers I’ve been wanting to put together a natty look that was not as hot and sweaty as a closed collar with a bow tie. I almost immediately came up with switching to short sleeved shirts with an ascot tie. I’ve long liked ascots and short sleeves are pretty much an obvious choice. Finish the look with a boater hat and, if I can find a pair of nice black sandals (that fit my wide hooves and I can afford) I’d add them in too. It’s amazing how just cooling down the dogs helps the rest of you stay cool.

Ascots are moderately spendy and decent quality boater hats can get real steep real fast. Unless you’ve had a week like mine…

The result

How it happened
Last Sunday I was waiting for my next set when a longtime Pike Place Market denizen (named Bob C.) stopped for a chat. Bob was carrying a beautiful piece of paisley silk that I took to be a regular necktie. I remarked on it and he said, “no, it’s an ascot.” This led to a conversation about where he got them around here and were they dreadfully dear and such. He says he’s collected dozens over the years and what colors would I wear and he’ll give me one from his collection.

So last Monday — prior to my death defying yet toe smashing stunt dive down my front steps — I was busking at the market with Sketch when Bob shows up, tips us, and presents me with a nice, plain red ascot. As soon as we were done with the set I headed over to the men’s room and swapped out my bow tie for the ascot.

Holy proof of concept, Batman! Even though the ascot is wrapped around your neck just having the collar open made a huge difference in comfort level.

I passed by Joe Lamanno on the way back from the restroom. He often wears ascots and I stopped to chat with him a bit, maybe get some pro tips on the subject. I told him the boater hat bit and he says, “what’s a boater hat?” I googled up a pic and showed him. Some customers came up and I bid adieu and went about my day.

Then I went home, fell down the steps (as I’ve mentioned and blogged about), and I didn’t go back to the market until yesterday.

I was waiting — again — to play our first set when Joe came up. Wearing a boater hat. I said, “jeez Joe! you own one and didn’t know what it was called?” He laughed, pulled my hat off, set the boater in its place, and said, “it’s yours.”

You can insert old saws about being knocked over with a feather and suchlike here.

So many thanks, Bob and Joe! It’s going to be a much cooler summer.

My two mistakes this week

(At least, so far. There’s still a couple days left.)

Monday’s mistake
Not paying close enough attention to how near I was to the top of the steps in front of my apartment.

See, I was so excited about my check from the Moisture Festival arriving, and was telling a neighbor about it. I turned to go back to my apartment and one of my feet slipped off the top stair. What ensued was a sort of spastic dance down the four cement steps that would have made Jerry Lewis (in his prime) jealous. This culminated in a full length belly flop to the sidewalk.

Strangely enough, only my left big toe sustained any serious damage. It’s healing up fine, but it’s still so sore and swollen that I’m not going to try to stuff it into a shoe and busk today.

Wednesday’s mistake
Bringing out my little sopranino ukulele.

It hasn’t been out of its case for probably a year. I have been seriously considering selling it or trading it in order to get another electric as a backup, partly because I need the backup instrument and partly because I feel bad ignoring the little fella. But I just had to take it out to show a visiting friend (and fellow uke freak) what a cute little thing it is.

I’d forgotten how good it sounds. It barks like a big dog and has a very nice tone. Plus it’s ludicrously tiny, which amuses the very socks offa me.

So much for that whole trade-up idea. Now I’m working up an old “naughty” novelty tune on it.

I wish all my mistakes were like that.

Not quite ripe yet

This past Sunday I decided, since I was going out solo anyway, and it was promising to be a beautiful day*, I’d risk checking out the Ballard Sunday Market for the first time this year. That was a bit of a mistake.

I worked two and a half hours for a total hat that was like one pretty good hour.

I’m not sure if this reflects:
a) too early in the season (aka not quite ripe yet) or
b) 4/15 shock, since it was only 5 days after tax day… or
c) all of the above

Now, in case you’re reading this and thinking, “awww, poor Hobbit!” please bear in mind that the Canote Brothers were there and listening to and/or chatting with them is always a treat. I got to do both.

Also, as I was leaving I stopped to chat with my favorite trolls** at the Wilson Fish booth and they gifted me with a $20 slab of their awesome smoked salmon.

I may not have legions of fans, but the ones I have (like, for instance, you, gentle reader) are fabulous!

So I prefer to think that Sunday was an experience, not a tragedy.

*beautiful, sunny days, unless they get too hot, are notorious wallet looseners
**check out their link to find out why I call the Wilson folk “trolls”

Howlin’ Hobbit with Cirque en DeRoute

Howlin' Hobbit with Cirque en DeRoute

Howlin’ Hobbit with Cirque en DeRoute backstage at the 2015 Moisture Festival. l to r: Jonah, Faeble, HH, Laurie.

See, if you hadn’t wasted all that time and money on that silly engineering degree (or whatever), and instead worked on your ukulele chops, you too could be hanging around with talented and beautiful people like these three.

Company Cirque en DeRoute are hilarious clowns and daring acrobats. Snake Suspenderz happily played Midnight In Moscow as the background music for their act at this year’s Moisture Festival. We love doing that sort of thing and I’m pretty sure they liked having a live band rather than a recorded track.

At the time of this writing there’s still one week of shows left for this year’s Fest. I don’t know how many are sold out already, but you should jump on the chance to go, especially if you’ve never been before!

Moisture Festival 2015 – 1st night


(The picture is the bandana from this year’s swag and my rockstar laminate. All access, baby!)

Wednesday night was the first of a 5 night run for Snake Suspenderz as the house band for Moisture Festival 2015. This is the 2nd week of the 4 that the Fest runs.

The Moisture Festival is in 2 “tracks” at 3 different venues this year. We’re playing in the comedy/varietè track, which is at Hale’s Palladium.

I’d point out the highlights of the show, but they’re all excellent, so I’m just going to list them. Wouldn’t want to miss someone!

Bill Robison was the emcee. He’s one of a rotating group of emcees, each keeping things running smoothly, doing their own bits while the stage ninjas set up the next act, and adding their own stamp and style to the shows.

Cirque en Déroute are a trio of clowns who mix in other skills including some scary acrobatics.

Dan Holzman is a very funny man who also juggles, managing to avoid the usual cliche tricks.

Incredible Incredible are simply – yes… I’ll say it – incredible. The bit where one of them flips a fork in the air off his shoe so that it sticks in the apple he’s holding in his mouth is worth the price of admission. Yes, you read that last sentence right.

The Kamikaze FireFlies are barking mad, but in the nicest way. What else could you say about an act that gets a volunteer onstage so one of them can stand on his shoulders and juggle?

Shayna Swanson is an aerialist and also does an amazing (and funny) routine on the Cyr Wheel, something I’ve never seen before.

Stoil & Ekaterina are the kind of magic act you see in Las Vegas or on a cruise ship. Polished, professional, colorful, and definitely high energy.

Uncle Bonsai is a Seattle treasure. If you have never heard them, rectify that situation at once! You know how to google.