The Lives of the Cowboys, February 23, 2013

The Fitzgerald Theater

Saint Paul, MN


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The Lives of the Cowboys

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SS (ANNC): The Lives of the Cowboys. Brought to you by Spaulding Spring-Loaded Holsters. If you're a little slow on the draw, Spaulding puts the pistol right in your hand. (BOINGGGG) And now, The Lives of the Cowboys.

(HORSES WALKING)

GK: Kind of odd to see Vulture Gulch so deserted, Dusty. Not a soul around.

TR: Livery stable empty. Sign on the Sheriff's Office says, "Gone away, back eventually." (BIRD CRIES, OFF)

GK: Vultures circling overhead. (WHOAS, HORSES WHINNY, STOP. FOOTSTEPS ON BOARDWALK)

TR: Could be pestilence.

GK: Or maybe somebody found gold up in the hills.

TR: Let's go in and ask the bartender. They know everything. (DOOR OPEN, PIANO, CAMPTOWN RACES)

(FOOTSTEPS)

GK: Hello? ---- Nobody here. Except the piano player.

TR: Hey, piano player-----

GK: Hey you----

TR: Hey maestro-----

GK: Take his dark glasses off, Dusty.

TR: Okay------ (RD YELL: OUCH......TURN OFF THE LIGHT) (PIANO STOPS)

GK: That's sunlight, pal. Where'd everybody go?

RD: Where'd------ Oh. Where is everybody?

GK: Guess you got engrossed in "Camptown Races" there, didn't notice everybody evacuated.

DR: (OFF) Who're you? What you doing in here?

TR: Came in for a drink.

DR: Bar is closed.

TR: Don't look closed to me.

DR: It's closed on account of the bar is under new management and that is me. But what can I get you?

TR: Glass of rotgut whiskey for me, no ice, no lemon, no paper parasol, and if I forgot to mention ice, I don't want any.

DR: Okay. You?

GK: You wouldn't happen to have cranberry juice, would you?

DR: Do I strike you as the sort of person who would have cranberry juice?

GK: I guess not.

DR: I got cactus juice. With or without chunks.

GK: I'll try some of that. No chunks. (PIANO RESUME CAMPTOWN RACES) So what happened to everybody in town? Seems like the whole town evacuated.

DR: What about a vacuum?

GK: Evacuated. Everybody's skedaddled.

DR: What about your dad?

GK: I said, the town looks deserted.

DR: Sorry, I can't hear you with that dang piano going like that. ----- SHUDDUP.----- I SAID, GIVE IT A REST. ----- (THREE GUNSHOTS, THREE CLUNKS OF PIANO) (PIANO STOP) There, that's better.

GK: You okay, Mr. Piano-Player?

RD: I've been better.

GK: Looks like your piano isn't going to be playing the Chopin Etudes anytime soon----- (HESITANT PLAYING, CAMPTOWN, MISSING NOTES, THEN STOP) ----

RD: Guess I'll find some other way of making a living.

GK: You just buy the saloon, mister?

DR: Bought it this morning at auction. Paid fifty dollars for it.

TR: Fifty dollars?? -----

DR: I was the only bidder. Sheriff conducted the auction and I was the only person there.

GK: How'd you manage that?

DR: There was a rumor, which I started, that the town's water was contaminated with estrogen. All the men left and the women left with em.

SS: Not all the women.

DR: Whoa------ where'd you come from, Lucille?

SS: Came looking for my pa.

DR: Ain't seen him, Lucille. How long's he been gone?

SS: Fourteen years.

DR: Where'd he go?

SS: Got no idea.

DR: What was his name?

SS: Dad.

DR: Okay. (FOOTSTEPS) Yes, sir? Bar's closed but what can I get you?

NP: Excuse me, but I heard that somebody shot the piano and I was wondering if maybe you might be looking for a banjo player to fill in until the piano is repaired. Banjo can play anything piano can --- and it does not require tuning.

GK: Funny, you don't look like a banjo player. I thought they were all hunched over and slope-shouldered and their fingers were curled up like a claw.

NP: No, I'm not that kind of banjo player.

GK: What kind are you?

NP: The other kind.

DR: Well, can you play "Camptown Races"? That's the tune that the clientele favors------

NP: Well, sure, of course I know "Camptown Races" ---- I believe it goes like this------ (HE PLAYS A FAST AMELODIC BANJO PIECE AND STOPS MIDWAY)

DR: That ain't "Camptown Races," mister.

NP: Well, that's how I learned it.

DR: Well, you learned it wrong.

NP: Mine is just a different version. (FN OFF, BERSERK HOLLERING)----

TR: Oh oh, look out, he's got a gun.

DR: It's Crazy Frank. (FN APPROACH, BERSERK MUTTERING, FOUR GUNSHOTS, PLUNKS OF BANJO AS STRINGS ARE SHOT, THEN CRUNCH)

GK: Don't shoot the banjoist, Frank. Take it easy.

SS: His wife ran off with a banjo player, that's the reason for it.

NP: That was my best banjo you shot, mister. That is a 1941 Smith & Wesson banjo with power tuning and overdrive.

TR: Here, lemme buy you a drink---- what you like?

NP: How about a white wine?

GK: Banjoists don't drink white wine, they drink bourbon, mister.

NP: I'll have a white Bordeaux---- you have a 2008 or 2009?

DR: I'll go check. (FOOTSTEPS OFF)

GK: Well, who's this coming in? Bar's closed, mister, what would you like?

BE: I heard a rumor that the piano-player was shot and that you're looking for a banjo player to take his place. (FN BERSERK MURMURS)

SS: Easy, Frank. Settle down. (FN MURMURS)

GK: We are looking for a banjoist but not one with silk arm bands and red suspenders and a straw hat----

BE: I'll take em off then. You the owner?

GK: Owner went down to the wine cellar. But he needs you to play "Camptown Races," can you do that?

BE: Heck, yes. I been playing "Camptown Races" since Grandpa was a child. Here---- (HE PLAYS A FAST RAGGY PIECE, NOT "CAMPTOWN RACES" THEN STOPS)

GK: That doesn't sound like "Camptown Races," sir.

BE: That's an arrangement of "Camptown Races"----

(FN BERSERK MURMURS)

GK: That sounded more like "Tenting Tonight On The Old Camp Ground" ---- (BE: No, no) ---- or "Georgia Camp Meeting" ---- (BE: No, sir.) (FN BERSERK MUTTERS)

BE: What's his problem?

SS: He's angry because some banjo player ran off with his wife.

BE: Oh. --- Was her name Mildred? (FN BERSERK ROAR, THREE GUNSHOTS, PLINKS OF STRINGS AS THEY'RE SHOT)

TR: Looks like you got yourself a two-string banjo now, mister.

BE: I can't believe he just did that. I loved that banjo. I made it myself, from my old cat.

SS: What'd you say Mildred for? That was his wife's name.

BE: It was just a wild guess.

TR: Lemme buy you a drink, what you like?

BE: How about a glass of gin?

TR: HEY!!!! WHERE'S YOUR GIN???

DR: (OFF) I'll be up in a minute.

BE: How come that crazy man is allowed to run around with a loaded weapon?

TR: Because this is the West, mister. We don't try to identify crazy people for fear there may be more of them than we realize and maybe we are one of them.

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACH......STOP)

BCM: I believe I heard someone discharging a firearm in here. Was that one of you gentlemen?

SS: That was Crazy Frank, Sheriff. I got him settled down, though.

BCM: Thank you, Lucille. ----(LOOKING AT LEFTY) I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy.

GK: I am, sir. And that badge would seem to indicate----

BCM: I'm Sheriff Bill Malone. What brings you boys to Vulture Gulch?

TR: All day we faced the barren waste without the taste of whiskey. So we came here.

BCM: You talking about rye whiskey?

TR: Yep. If it don't kill me, I'll live til I die.

BCM: Okay, but with the dawn I hope you'll wake and yawn and carry on and keep a-movin. Okay?

TR: We'll do our best, Sheriff.

BCM: Let me ask you this: did your wife by any chance die in a poolroom fight?

TR: Never had a wife.

BCM: Okay. You two weren't involved with that Knoxville girl, were you? Somebody took her for an evening walk about a mile from town and picked a stick up off the ground and knocked that dear girl down.

GK: Knocked her down with a stick, huh?

BCM: And there were folks at the scene who all agree that the slayer who ran looked a lot like you.

GK: Like me???

BCM: Let me ask you: does the name Rose's Cantina ring a bell?

GK: No.

BCM: Mexican woman name of Felina?

GK: No, sir.

BCM: You were never down around Sonora way?

GK: No, sir.

BCM: You ever use the phrase, "Mi amor mi Corazon"----

GK: No, sir.

BCM: You ever in Reno?

GK: Yes.

BCM: Ever shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die?

GK: No, sir.

BCM: Good. It's not a good idea. (FOOTSTEPS ENTER)

TR: Well, here comes another one-----

JN: I heard from a newsboy that your piano-player accidentally shot himself and that you all might be looking for a banjo player to play Chopin etudes.

GK: No, "Camptown Races"----

JN: Well, I can play that, too.

SS: DAD!!!! OH DAD!!!! (RUNNING FEET, EMBRACE) Oh Dad!!!

JN: Hi there, Francine.

SS: Lucille.

JN: Oh, right. Lucille.

SS: I was worried sick about you. Where'd you go?

JN: Went up in the hills. Lived in a cave. Good acoustic in there.

SS: Why'd you go up there??

JN: Trying to learn Chopin etudes on the banjo.

SS: It took you fourteen years??

JN: Well, I thought I had it after six years but then my capo broke and I had to learn everything all over again.

SS: Why the Chopin etudes?

JN: I thought I could get work playing Chopin. Turns out all you need to know is "Camptown Races".

SS: It took you that long to figure that out????

JN: It was dark in there. Anyway, I'm back. (FOOTSTEPS)

DR: I looked and looked and didn't find a 2008 or a 2009. I got a 2007 and a 1989, though----

NP: Give me the 1989. (FN BERSERK CRY, GUNSHOT, GLASS BREAKAGE) Okay, the 2007 then.

GK: So you know "Camptown Races"?

JN: Know it like I know my own name. (HE PLAYS "CAMPTOWN RACES" AND FN BERSERK AND GUNSHOTS, PLINK PLINK OF SHOT STRINGS)

JN: What'd he do that for?

NP: He does that to all the banjo players. Don't take it personally.

(FOOTSTEPS)

TR (BRIT): Hello. Cheerio. How are all of you chaps? You the bartender?

DR: Yeah?

TR (BRIT): I'd like a pint of lager.

DR: All I got is beer.

TR (BRIT): Give me that.

DR: You want the yellowish kind or the orange?

TR (BRIT): Orange.

GK: Sounds like you are a ways from home, sir.

TR (BRIT): Yes. Whose horses are those tied up out front?

GK: What brings you to Vulture Gulch?

TR (BRIT): Here's my business card.

GK: Horseburger Inc.

TR (BRIT): This could be a marvelous opportunity for you, old chap. The truth is, in a blindfold test, most people chose horsemeat over beef. It's leaner and it's tastier.

GK: Those horses are our family, mister. We're not interested in seeing them between two buns.

TR (BRIT): Have you ever tasted horsemeat?

GK: You're getting on the wrong side of me, mister.

TR (BRIT): You Americans need to open your minds. You're so contumacious.

GK: Did you just call me contumacious?

TR (BRIT): I did. And I'll say it again: contumacious.

GK: I resemble that remark, sir. Maybe I'll open your mind. Look---- it's a man selling Marmite out there----

TR (BRIT): Marmite!!! Where? (GK SWINGS, KONK, TR GROAN, FALLS)

GK: Looks like you got your job back, Piano Man.

RD: Good. I think I can play it in C-sharp-minor, if that's okay. (CAMPTOWN RACES)

GK: Time we should be hitting the trail, Dusty.

TR: Yessir.

GK: Hey, you banjo boys---- look----- he's got a D string (PLINK) and you've got a C string (PLINK) and you've got a G (PLINK) ----

NP: G Modal Tuning----- (PLINK PLINK PLINK)

BE: We can play music as long as we work together. Teamwork.

(THEY PICK OUT A LINE OF CAMPTOWN)

GK: You work on that, we'll see you in the spring.

(THEME)

SS (ANNC): The Lives of the Cowboys. Brought to you by Spalding Spring-Loaded Holster.

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).

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