Between the jam and the high place
Wherein we discover again where music comes from: backyards, kitchens, basements, parties, public places where goodwill is cultivated and coerced into an improved socio-musical consensus concerning what is good and better and best.
A waning August moon makes a decisive slice through the exhausted rainclouds; the Perseid meteor showers are scratching out their brief vectors in the sky; party animals, vegetables and minerals emerge into the rain-soaked backyards of fungus coloured-houses in nameless Toronto neighbourhoods.
We are into the pivotal double digits of the month and it’s summer’s perfect Saturday night. Dark, and sweet ozone in the atmosphere. There is a party at Kyle and Gavin’s.
Lots of food and brews; a barbecue bonfire; loud cussing bros and girls all with fresh nails; tarped-off platform at the back of the yard has a drum kit and red glowing amplifier lights ready.
Arbitrarily coincident musicians gather, a neighbor, a teacher, some folk and reggae players, and Adam Beer-Colacino, Toronto’s new guitar avatar, occupy the light with jokes and scales and then, abruptly, The Gogo Jam starts up. Weightless dancing, shouted adjustments of key and tempo, extended solos, audience air guitar, some singalongs and some old New Orleans masterpieces and “Will It Go Round In Circles“.
The surprise of perfection’s grace upon the odd tune leaves the band hopeful for a second set of magical potential.
After some libation salvation, Jerry Leger takes over for a few songs, pushing the group pulse into a deeper tightness. All Dressed, a full on group with spontaneous keyboard combustion added on, brings a rocking 80’s surround sound fullness into the midnight. As neighbours peer out of their brown-lit windows in wonder, two party goers look up and rock a minute, with icy blue faces unlocked from their hand-held devices for a spell.
And blocks away people are feeling the beat, finding it suddenly coming across the sky mixed in with the bright happenstance of transient surface noise, a chance rhythm bite, insistent and intimate over the distance, like the sight of a shared shooting star: epic glance to close friend: “Did you see that?” “Yes, but can you hear THAT?” Indicating the gist of existence without explanation.
And before one o’clock, the expected swoop of a police car parked out front, the sweating neighbor in his undershirt and pajama pants swearing in mumbles, and the dismantling of the sound and the diminishing of the yard party and the current of energy flowing off into taxis and transit and homeward trails. Lost — but not vanished — just until February when somebody rekindles a conversation with “Hey, do you remember that party at Gavin and Kyle’s? Tang Tang!”