I was first introduced to his songs on Monday at the Listening Room Festival‘s Meet the Artists event (more here). I knew I liked him when he opened with a subversively bawdy song, “She Whistles When She Walks,” and closed with a moving and serious song, “Big Time.”
Last night I got the opportunity to hear more of Antsy McClain‘s fantastic music.Antsy is a self-proclaimed “trailer park troubadour.” With that, I probably wouldn’t have specifically searched out his music. (Even though I did spend my very early years living in a trailer park.) This is one of the things I love about house concerts and listening rooms. Once you start regularly going to different shows, you find that you are often (usually?) pleasantly surprised by music that you might otherwise think you won’t like! Going to different shows without knowing much about the artist has helped me open my mind about how I think about music.
And other things…
So what sorts of songs does a “trailer park troubadour” sing about? First, many of his songs contain a comedic quality. Themes in songs ranged from falling in love with Inspector 3782, who did such a lovely job inspecting his pants, to encouraging to get a lover to keep their love whole and not go on Jerry Springer (or Maurie Povich, or Judge Judy, depending on the scenario.). Antsy sang of Aunt Beulah’s roadkill over coat. There was a song about Johnny, who exchanged a meaningful glance with a woman across the highway who was working on her own prison clean-up team. Did love flourish between them? Not in the song Antsy played.
Apparently their is a sequel to the song . I’ll have to go find it to see if their prison love made it…
There was plenty of laughter in the house last night, and it was refreshing.
But every now and again, Antsy would interject a little seriousness into the show. Songs like “Big Time” got to the heart of why traveling troubadours of all genres do what they do. They love it. They don’t do it to fill stadiums or for the paparazzi. They do it because it feeds their souls now. And, as far as it goes, I think the song is applicable to everyone. An outsider may look at your life and think you haven’t made it. But if you are happy and doing what you love, you really have made it! I really, really, really like this song. It moves me, and it got my tear ducts working last night. The mood and sound of it touched my heart last night.
The lyrics to “A Life Like Ours” is on a similar vein. He sings about CEOs and other stereotypically successful people who think about what their ideal lives would be. What would it look like? Well, it would be a life like ours. It’s a powerful idea to think about.
Antsy had some long-term fans in the audience last night, and he took some requests. When you’ve been playing as long as Antsy has, it makes sense that you might forget the words for some songs, especially if the song is a bit longer. He got a request for “Airbrushed License Plate,” and he said he’d do it if only he had the lyrics. In this lovely day of technology, his die hard fan was able to provide the lyrics with the help of a phone. The concert host got a ladder to rest the phone upon, and Antsy started playing. All went well until Antsy had to switch to page two. He was going to stop, and he asked how his fan knew all of the words. The fan replied, “I memorize them.” Antsy said the only way he could go on was if the fan sang while he played. The crowd cheered for this option, and it happened that way.
It was a fantastic interaction. The fan got Antsy all the way through the song, and they got quite the ovation from the crowd.
This is another appealing feature of a house concert. Very rarely would you see this sort of spontaneity at a show in a big theater.
So there was a lot of laughter and a few tears last night. The show was really fantastic and refreshing.
Aside from the music, one of the things I love about house concerts is that if you start going to shows hosted by the same people, you really start building relationships. The LunaZoot House Concert hosts have really come to feel like family to me.
A few months ago I got the idea to make them a present. I wanted to make them a “bar sign” style mosaic for their house concert series. With some trials and tribulations, I finally finished it and I gifted it to them last night.
I was a bit self conscious about it, because it didn’t come out exactly as I wanted it to. I fought with this project throughout. But it turned out Ok, and they really liked it.
The letters are red glass, the music notes black glass, the border is red clay tile, and the fill is mirrored glass. The grout is a dark grey. It says “LunaZoot” which is the name of their house concert series.
I’m looking to end my week with one more Listening Room Festival event tomorrow: the finale at the Palladium Theater. I get to be Merch Empress again. I also get to experience the music of all of the artists participating in the festival one last time; including, Antsy!