I think this fictional Appalachian Family Band might be on to something:
Yes that is me, up left. Objects on the warped left side of this picture are thinner than they appear.
"Oh, Hotcake, Flapjack, put 'em on a griddle
Hotcake, Flapjack, play a little fiddle
Put 'em on a griddle and you play a little fiddle and you
Have yourself a real good time
Oh have yourself a real good time
Don't pay your troubles any mind
Have yourself a real good time!"
- Don Chaffer, "Son of a Gun" (winner: 2011 O'Neill Lyricist Award)
Besides being amazacrazily catchy, this foot-stompin' tune hones in on the two basic ingredients of Bliss (aka Real Good Time):
1.Music (including but not necessarily limited to the fiddle)
2.Food (including but not necessarily limited to hotcakes and/or flapjacks.)
Ok there's at least one other important element I can think of, but this is a family blog after all.
So it's my birthday!! Again! Or was when I started this post! And I am so pleased and thankful to havve spent it where I did: back up at this idyllic oasis in CT, surrounded by emerging illuminati of american Music Theatre (I'll miss the Playwrights Conference this time; sniff) and some truly bad-ass folk/country/rock musicians out of Nashville and NYC, putting up a glorious show in (wait for it) "The Barn".
These people are rehearsing. AND relaxing. "Hearslaxing"? I'll come back to this.
Yes, Real Good Times were abundant both onstage and off. My birthday started with a return to this legendary joint for brunch (GET the corned beef hash even if you think you don't like it, and be warned that Doreen has ditched the guns in favor of making customers wait tables). In the evening we had a performance of the show followed by an epic jam session that ended with me picking shards of glass out of the smiling drummer's forearm as he continued to play). THAT's a birthday.
The title of this post comes from a conversation I had with this guy about his life as a fiddle player:
Obviously he's already past the flapjacks.
Turns out that in competitive fiddling (hee hee), there's often a division called "Trick & Fancy" in which competitors don't just play tunes, they, well, do tricks. Fancy ones. Like fiddling behind your head, or using an unorthodox bowing style, or showing off other unexpected feats of bravado and strength. I fell in love with this expression and immediately tried to think of a way to use it when talking about food (natch).
Gratuitous Clambake shot. July 4: chilled rose and free lobster. Not pictured: plastic bib, foolish grin, steamers, corn, the fact that I had already eaten an entire dinner before this.
You see, folks, when you're on the road, not every meal is a clambake. (Segue!) And even at the best of all Summer Theatre Camps, when it comes to cafeteria food it's generally agreed that the price you pay for - well, paying no price at all - is food that is barely digestible.
(Not true this year, I hasten to say. Apparently they brought in a guy from Whole Foods and it really worked wonders. However, three words to the wise: Instant. Starbucks. Packets. Put 'em in Yer Suitcase, Nothing Rhymes with Suitcase, Have Yerself a Real Good Time.)
I started thinking about the many Trick & Fancy tips I've heard from fellow performers over the years re dealing with Food on the Road. There's my friend MS, who swears she lived on instant oatmeal with peanut butter packets for many's a hotel room buffet breakfast on tour. (I now do that as well.) I remembered Dennis' neverending bags of nuts and dried fruit secreted in rehearsal room cupboards in Louisville. At the O'Neill, my new friend Elmadora would eschew the mysterious bins of salad dressing to concoct her own from honey, olive oil, balsamic, and lemon juice packets.
My goal was to have a blog post full of cafeteria survival recipes but I only got one, which came to me by way of the Khrusty Family Band's Drummer:
Would you drink something he made? Course you would.
This Nashville resident sports a keen sense of rhythm, a Zeppelin tattoo, and a love of iced tea strong enough to wake entrepreneurial instincts when he discovered there was no sweet tea for the non-coffee drinkers. I'm using his real name (a first) because I couldn't bear to change it. Weary travelers, I give you -
Billy Brimblecom, Jr.'s Cafeteria Iced Tea
Get a glass (big cup?) of hot water and a tea bag.
Steep tea bag in water to desired strength.
Get another glass (big cup?) full of ice.
Wait and watch.
Pour steeped hot tea into glass of ice.
Shake or stir.
Boom! Iced tea in the cafeteria!
So there you have it. What a summer so far! Oh, and speaking of Trick & Fancy, our whole cast received cups of this as a parting gift from one of the guys on the tech staff:
Bourbon Slush. I kid you not. Hold on, I will get that recipe if it's the last thing I do.
Thanks, CT. It was a Real Good Time.