‘all the patient dignity of a human form’ by hummingfish channelled kinda sort on a Sunday and Monday

“Herons” is a song by Hummingfish an indie band out of Portland, out of the 1990s.

Thoughts of which folded into this:

Hi, Bill.
I am the one that bought your BEML cd based on the fact that the first track was by Deb Talan.
I listened to the performance the next a.m., that song, ‘rock and water” or what not, and then hummed it the rest of the a.m.
Did not know the tune but cannot imagine a better performance than the version you and Megan created.
you own the tune now.

I saw Hummingfish exactly once, dropping everything to zip up to Sweetwater Mill Valley to see their show, with another admirer of Deb and them. It was actually a tune called “Herons’ that me and this temporary fellow traveler bonded over; she had it as her outgoing message on her old school answering machine, this is 1996 or so. It turns out that “herons” was written by her then-partner and maybe that is why, despite others calling for it, or posting about it, Deb Talan apparently does not play it nor is it in repertoire of The Weepies. someone else wrote in to say that the song was not ornithologically correct in that herons do not travel in packs as depicted in song. Of course, my memory was of a bird entering the water as in your song choice not rising up to fly. But there is something great about her voice on that song, which she only co-wrote. the melody to his lyric.

And that Weepies years later were signed by Mike Kappus of Rosebud as r.a. if not also p.m. is to my mind the best imprimatur in the business and caught my eye even if I have not ever caught up with her or them, nor do I know their book.

Sad news you passed on about her health troubles. I perused their site and postings about such.

Another case I monitor is Candye Kane the blues singer fighting pancreatic cancer. Tough lady, raised a boy who graduated from Cal, and another son played drums in her band for a while. Candye in recent years hired a young guitarist from Mountain View named Laura Chavez.

And I also asked you about Danny Barnes. I once hired Danny Barnes Trio, not Bad Livers mind you, to play the Edge or Illusions in Palo Alto, circa 2002, a trio with Danny, Amy Denio on bass and Oliver something on accordion.

Mark Weiss
Earthwise Productions and Artist Management of Palo Alto
PO Box 60786
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 305-XXXX
if your phone or office pinged briefly sunday a.m. I was fixin’ to ring you, moved by all this…

i also chatted up Mr. Spurgin about my Kerrville and Austin days, and Mr. Crary about Dao Strom who grew up in Placerville, lived in Austin, is based in Portland but coming thru town in June, s/s plus novelist…former client

edit to add, almost exactly one year later, or one year minus two days later: this thing is pretty darn post-modern and random so it does not dilute much worse to add this:

Back at Stanford, Brooks, who took classical voice lessons while growing up and was a member of the Stanford Chamber Corale, realized she would rather write her own songs than sing ones written long ago.

“I realized I couldn’t do this anymore,” she said. “What was I singing about? I had to do a performance that was more a synthesis of my ideals and my values. When I started playing guitar, I realized, wow, this was the medium I was looking for.”

Shelagh Sandstedt, a friend of Brooks’ who lived with her in Synergy, still remembers the first time she saw Brooks pick up a guitar.

“We were all sitting downstairs in the house, hanging out,” Sandstedt said. “She knew only two or three chords and she created this really humorous, great song. We were all laughing. And from that point, she was always creating. She was just totally enveloped in it.” which is by Heather Knight of the Chronicle in 1997, about Lisa Allette Brooks, and her cd “Silicon Valley Rebel”, Lisa who is now a PhD candidate in Sanskrit at UCB. It is Lisa’s pal Shelagh who was my companion the night we drove to Mill Valley to see Hummingfish. And kudos to Mark Buchanan who wrote this song and keeps fighting for all that is right, in Oregon, and whose comments follow, calling out my red heron of bad bird omenology or don’t bee leaf all that you reed on the internest.

I can almost conjure thru the synapses bits and pieces of that song but could not find, as I did once or twice before the actual or virtual digital simulacra of Mark/Deb and dem years ago or on an analog cassette I played once or twice. But I recall playing it years later and it still moved me. Buchanan is in my pantheon and I added his name to the tags here.


About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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One Response to ‘all the patient dignity of a human form’ by hummingfish channelled kinda sort on a Sunday and Monday

  1. Mark Buchanan says:

    Hi Mark,

    Crazy that I stumbled across this. I wrote the song Herons.And while Deb and I were musical partners for years, we were never romantically involved – just good friends back then. I’m thrilled you liked the song. I also remember that show at Sweetwater in Mill Valley. It was a tiny crowd, maybe we met then? I hope so, I liked the thoughtful writing up above and I love Rocks and Water and am glad to find it here (another reason I was happy to come across your post of about a year ago now).

    It isn’t just for bruised ego that I write the following though, it’s in defense of ornithological veracity: Herons fly together. Though they are often loners, they also often live in rookeries – and if something startles them, you can see many herons together in flight. Once kayaking at night in an estuary on the Sea of Cortez, I startled a huge rookery of green and night herons. Hundreds of birds (other types included too) exploded into the air and circled above us as we paddled. The full moon was visible through their big wings and translucent feathers. Amazing and very memorable. In the song though, that wasn’t the case. On that occasion waking on the Eel River in Northern California one morning many years ago, I saw multiple herons, individually at different times moments apart.There were indeed ghostly, pre-dawn herons launching to meet the light.

    James Audubon, my wife the wildlife biologist, and I can rest easy now the truth is told.

    Wishing you well,
    Mark Buchanan (formerly of Hummingfish)

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