A few years ago at the Playhouse, our funny bones were really tickled discovering the phrase "you can't always get a chihuahua," substituted somewhere for the Stones' lyric of "You Can't Always Get What You Want.." This week, it started to seem that there wasn't a chihuahua around, as I'd been looking right and left without much success for cultural highs. Measha Brueggergosman left me unfulfilled... I got annoyed as hell at the Arts and Letters Club debate about arts elitism and vernacular culture. Theatre Kingston's new show also brought up a few "issues." Maybe I should just stay home and read from now on? I started to wonder.
But on the seventh day she clapped. Whistled. Smiled. Tonight I found that delight still lurks out there in the world, and truly in the unlikeliest of places. Who would have told me that, when my friend got sick and I couldn't go to see Royal Wood and Hannah Georgas, I'd actually be in for a fabulous time by "settling" for a show of old barbershop singers doing a tribute to the military? I'm an old draft dodger, remember? And someone who's not comfortable (yet) in a room full of old men. At all.
Now, the joy wasn't the Kingston Townsmen themselves, as nice and earnest as they are, nor the sepia-tinted military promo films at the beginning. But the group itself has to get a huge credit for assembling some totally unexpected talents, and ones that I, and a lot of others, would never have seen otherwise. A choir and sax quartet from RMC? Never would have gone. A group of young male barbershoppers, the modern equivalent of Forever Plaids? Probably would have passed. Ernestown Secondary SchoolChoir? "I'll see my own grandkids someday."
Well, this is the instance of "vernacular culture" Clarke Mackey had been talking about at Arts and Letters, and it worked. The RMC Choir and sax quartet were superb --at the top of their game (and also heartfelt and moving in their singing.) "May they never have to go to war, they're so lovely" I thought, stereotypes shattering away. And the young guys,the Rendezvous Quartet "hot damn" is all I can say. (Check out their YouTubes, and rendezvousquartet.com. Invite them back, somebody!)
Here I thought I was just going to go to the concert, listen to my Ipod before the show, be a nice wife and a good sport, and not feel too sorry for myself about not having a date to Royal Wood (next time Royal, save me a seat)...and it was absolutely energizing. Amateurs, doing it all for the love of it, and aiming for the top. Vernacular culture --with standards. Absolutely.
You can't always get a chihuahua... you can't always get a chihuahua (all together now:) You can't always get a chihuahua...but if you try sometime, you might find, you get a burmese!