October 10, 2009
Fitzgerald Theater

Saint Paul, MN

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Bass script

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( JAZZ STAND-UP BASS)

CONNIE SINGS:
My baby dont care if it snows
He goes for thermal clothes
My baby cares for me
My baby says winter's here, let's face it
My baby is a stand-up bassist

He don't like violins
He leaves if one begins
He don't like melody
My baby just plays the low notes
My baby just cares for me

GK: It was October, the month when everything falls down, and I was bartending at a little club on Exchange Street, called the High Hat. And Gary called in sick so I was subbing for him on stand-up bass with Vinnie on piano and Hank on guitar. Tuesday night. Not much of a crowd. (STAND-UP BASS SOLO w GUITAR & PIANO STOPS) – a lot of old guys trying to remember back when they were hip, before they had to take the job so they could buy the house in Apple Valley, and then I noticed the cop sitting at the bar with a glass of Cabernet and I was pretty sure I knew him and then I wound up my solo, and he said —

TK: Yeah. Wow. ( APPLAUSE.)

GK: And afterward he came up to me at the bar.

TK: Hey. Been a long time. How you doing?

GK: Fine. How's yourself? — I couldn't remember his name.

TK: Used to hear you play downtown at Ruby's. Big crowds back then. Place was packed. Ever miss the old days, huh?

GK: The old days are gone. That's why they're old. They already happened. That's the reason for time — so it doesn't all happen at once.

TK: Remember that girl singer who used to be at Ruby's?

GK: I do. Andrea Bontemps.

TK: Quite a girl.

GK: Yeah.

TK: Sang like Ella Fitzgerald. I remember her like it was yesterday.

GK: I remember her like it was right now. (MUSIC) Andrea. She used to stand right there. Beautiful hair always done up, black dress, the pearls, at the microphone, smiling. I stood six feet away, playing bass. It was a small stage.

(MUSIC UP: "I'LL BE SEEING YOU.")

CONNIE:
I'll be seeing you
Out here on the open spaces
In all the old familiar places
In St. Paul.

In that small cafe;
We went on Saturday
On Snelling Avenue
The maple trees;
The Como Zoo
I'll be seeing you in every bright October day
The funny things you used to say
I'll always think of you that way
I'll find you when the maples freeze
All yellow gold and red
I'll be looking at the trees
But I'll see you instead.

TK: Club used to be packed with guys, all of ‘em in love with her.

GK: Some of em on the bandstand.

TK: She still singing somewhere?

GK: Jingles. In L.A..

TK: Well, isn't that something.

GK: Hey. You're Sergeant Lahey.

TK: Captain Lahey.

GK: Good to see you again. Thanks for not arresting me that time.

TK: Hey, I never saw you hit the guy. As far as I was concerned, he just fell down because he lost his balance.

GK: Yeah. Well, it was a long time ago.

TK: Bartending now, huh? You used to be quite the bass player.

GK: Well, they still let me fill in. Andrea used to pack this place with guys who were in love with her. Including me, the bass player. (BASS SOLO) Every solo I played was for her. And she knew it. She turned around sometimes and gave me a look and I knew she knew. I had almost worked up the courage to ask her out to dinner. I'd been waiting for an occasion and now I had one. My hero Thelonious Monk had invited me to come be his bass player at the Village Vanguard in New York City and I was going to take Andrea to dinner and suggest that now if she wanted to audition for gigs in New York she could stay with me on McDougal Street in the Village. And then this guy showed up that night...

TR: Hi. Is Andrea here?

GK: No, she doesn't come in for another hour.

TR: Oh. I'm a friend of hers. Josh.

GK: Oh. Well, good to meet you.

TR: You play in the band?

GK: Yeah.

TR: Cool.

GK: How do you know Andrea?

TR: We've been dating for a few weeks.

GK: Oh.

TR: But it's pretty serious.

GK: I see. You a musician?

TR: No, no — I'm a manager. Talent manager.

GK: Oh. From around here?

TR: L.A. Came on vacation, met Andrea. Decided to hang around for awhile.

GK: Well, she's pretty terrific.

TR: Yup. And after we're married, she isn't going to sing in clubs like this anymore.

GK: No? You sure?

TR: Absolutely. Taking her to L.A. Do studio work. Not going to be singing in dives like this.

GK: What you got against dives?

TR: And St. Paul — I mean, the kid deserves something better than to be singing her heart out for a bunch of has-beens and wannabes in St. Paul, Minnesota—

GK: And that was when I hit him. Hit him square in the mouth. (WHACK, TK REACT, CONNIE DISMAY)

CE: Josh! Are you okay?

GK: She had walked in just in time to see me deck her boyfriend.

CE: Come on, baby, let me get you some ice. I'm so sorry—

GK: I broke six bones in my right hand on his jaw. The hospital put a cast on it and it never healed right and I lost the gig in New York and stayed here. I play some. Mostly I bartend. But I fill in here and there. And every time I play a solo... (BASS RUN)... I can remember how I used to play it (BETTER BASS RUN)... It's like an echo, I play a couple bars (BASS RUN). And I remember how it's supposed to sound. (BETTER RUN) And every now and then over the years I'd turn on the radio and hear a familiar voice....

(MUSIC, TIL THERE WAS YOU)
CONNIE (SINGS):
There were geese flying south but I never heard them squawling,
No I never heard them at all here in L.A.
There was snow, heavy snow, but I never saw it falling,
No I never saw it at all here in L.A.
And it was windy and it was ten below zero, they tell me,
And people were wearing big boots and gloves.
And you phoned from St. Paul but I never heard you calling,
No, I never heard you at all, here in L.A.

GK: And life went on, and then just yesterday who should walk in but Andrea.

CE: Hey. Joey.

GK: Hey yourself. Long time no see.

CE: You're looking good.

GK: Yeah, maybe, maybe not. But you're looking great. How's married life treating you?

CE: Oh, that's all over.

GK: Oh. Sorry.

CE: I'm not. Got tired of singing about toilet paper and kitty litter.

GK: I suppose.

CE: Life. It throws you some curve balls sometimes.

GK: I guess so.

CE: Came back thinking I could drop in and sing with you guys now and then.

GK: Why not?

(CONNIE SINGS "WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD”):
I see trees of red and yellow and gold,
Grey skies and the wind's blowing cold,
But I think to myself,
What a wonderful world—
Winter's on its way, we locked up the porch,
It'll be months before we eat lunch outdoors,
But I think to myself, what a wonderful world —

(BASS SOLO UNDER)

CE: You know I used to love to listen to you play bass.

GK: I didn't know that.

CE: You stood right there behind me and your beat was so big and rich and and the tone was thrilling—

GK: You were thrilled by bass fiddle?

CE: The sound came right up through the floor. I loved your solos. I could've listened to you play bass all night.

GK: I could've listened to you sing all night.

CE: I had no idea—

GK: We could've played duets —

CONNIE & GK:
The colors of the maples so bright against the sky
They say to live life boldly cause time is passing by
I see friends shaking hands, see you soon
They're really saying, I wish it were June.
I wish that I held you in my embrace
I wish that I still played standup bass
But think of now, not what might have been
We know we won't come this way again
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.


GK: Nice seeing you. Drop by again.

CE: I'll do that. (BASS ARCO SOLO)

GK: And then she was gone. She met someone—went off to the Napa Valley. Sings in a big hotel there. Anyway. That's what October's for — it's the month when your heart gets broken and that's how you know you still have one. I used to be able to play this thing. You should've heard me back in the day. Did I ever tell you? I had an offer to play with Thelonious Monk. You ever heard of him? Ah, he was very big in jazz at one time. You can still get his records. How about a refill on that red wine? Coming right up.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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