Nothing Else Like It
PHC staffer Ella Schovanec is on the Radio Romance Tour with Garrison, Fred Newman, Aoife O'Donovan, Sara Watkins, and The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band and will update us periodically from the road.
We did the show last night in Kansas City, Missouri, which is across the Missouri River from Kansas City, Kansas. A little confusing, especially if you've been traveling on a bus all night.
It's a neat city — the home of Hallmark Cards and Russell Stover Candies and Rival Crock Pots and Teflon. And Kansas City style barbecue, which is defined by a sticky, spicy tomato and molasses-based sauce. Fred Newman's character in the "Cowboys" sketch made a joke that Kansas City style is the only "true barbecue." Other kinds are "a tragic waste of the life of an animal," and the audience hooted and roared. After the show, the cast and crew got to feast on platters of ribs and sausage from a local barbecue joint and now I'm inclined to agree with them.
In Kansas City, there are fountains everywhere, wide boulevards lined with beautiful oak trees. And the venue was lovely to match. The Starlight Theatre is an unusual outdoor theatre that also shows Broadway plays. The whimsical stage created a perfect backdrop for our Radio Romance show: duets floating on the wind, moths fluttering under the house lights. Bats winged around the stage during Fred Newman's "Lazy Afternoon" as he twirled the Whirling Drone to make the enchanting "humming" noise in the song. Fred made the device himself. It's made out of linen string, a piece of cardstock for a wind vane, cut up sections of a broomstick dowel, and stretched rubber bands that are tuned like a bagpipe. He swings the Whirling Drone over his head like a lariat and the trick to picking up the sound is to just shear the microphone by a couple inches. My heart catches every time I see him do it, because I think one of these times it's going to crash into the mic. But it never does — it just sounds beautiful.