Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vignettes from Vermont: Tommy Marshall

Tommy Marshall at Fiddlehead at Four Corners
(Joey Kulkin photo, October 25, 2012)

BENNINGTON -- "College Night" failed. Tommy Marshall, however, killed it.

I'll hold off playing Friday Morning Quarterback till I talk to the esteemed leader of the Business Inter Kollective who brainstormed College Night. 

But I'll give the cannoli lover this much: He hired the right young mind to assemble the musical talent for each of the 26 downtown businesses that participated.

Fiddlehead at Four Corners agreed to have live music only if they didn't send us a fouxfoux flute player -- and Fiddlehead has nothing against flutists. 

We made a strong request for funky guitar.

Enter one Tommy Marshall.

For the first few minutes after they met and shook hands,Tommy Marshall and Art Gallery Dude engaged in a chat straight out of the "Coffee and Cigarettes" scene with Tom Waits and Iggy Pop -- bordering on bizarro.

I mean, I thought I heard what Tommy was saying, but I couldn't be sure, but not because he has multiple sclerosis, white hair and limps with a cane. Voice-wise he's like a twangy and pepped-up Jimmy Stewart, and visually he's like Justin Theroux (with the "Mulholland Drive" glasses, but older); the Justin Theroux who went to Bennington College (great tie-in!) and who is weeks away from becoming Mr. Jennier Aniston (poor Brad Pitt).

I was leery about Tommy Marshall ... until he pulled his Martin & Co. from the case and began to pick and pluck and tune his 6-string. Then we talked more ...

... and that's when I knew the Business Inter Kollective sent us the right funky fella.

Tommy Marshall is very good. His energy is great.

The 56-year-old, who first picked up the family guitar 44 years ago, played 10 songs during his set. He performed "The Tommy and Stella Rag" for the first time ever. Other songs were "Virginia Wade is Dead" and "Improv in B" and "The Sound of Your Past Running Fast (and It's Catching Up With You)" and "Angels Wept" (about being a junkie) and "Temperature Rising" and "Throw Me A Rock" -- and he even covered The Beatles' "Hard Day's Night".

Tommy Marshall is very good. His pick-pluck skills are vast and verily.

About "The Tommy and Stella Rag" ...

... well, let's just say the stars aligned for a beautiful moment when Tommy Marshall answered a question about his history with guitars. And no, we didn't put the chair there on purpose -- how could we possibly have known what kind of guitar Tommy Marshall pulled from the attic when he was 12? Read that story (HERE).

"Angels Wept" sounds like something Dylan might perform. Tommy Marshall and I chatted a few minutes about the song in relation to our lives. He understood me, and I understood him. Strong moment.

Weak was the number of college kids who watched Tommy Marshall perform: Zero.

Two old biddies walked into the gallery about 8 o'clock and I greeted them with "Hello, come and check out this great guitar player" and one of the blue hairs interrupted by asking "Can you tell us where the brewery is?" -- and that deflated my balloon. I pointed the women in the direction of the brew pub and told 'em they should try the Irish Nachos (they're Bennington's version of gravy fries from Nectar's in Burlington, only much better).

Sadly, no one else walked into the gallery.

On the bright side, I got to watch a free concert by Tommy Marshall.

He is very good.

Here are some photos of Tommy Marshall, followed by the "Cigarettes and Coffee" scene with Tom Waits and Iggy Pop, followed by several videos of Tommy Marshall in action.

Indeed, be like that!

Tele-tatt-tat: Tommy is proud of that Telecaster ink

The Tommy and "Stella" Rag moment;
no, we didn't plan it that way

If you want your child to play guitar and need a master to teach Little Johnny or Suzie, Tommy's number is (708) 903-4859.