Pat Harris

The Captain’s Log – February 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Captain’s Log.  Commodore Harris’ account.

Woke up early, too early, to load and board the Jolly Rogers.  She is a sight for sore eyes, and will serve as both our transit vessel, and bosom from which we will all draw strength and power for the next ten days on our maiden journey to the east.  On our way to civilized lands, we will have to travel through hostile territories not often friendly or welcoming to men of our ilk.  The course we have charted, in the interest of both time and financial economy, require that we use whatever stealth we may possess as we navigate a region full of those who place their faith into the hands Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Adolph Hitler, and Jesus Christ.

Morale is high on this, the first day of our venture.  In a display of good form, Tony offered to delight and entertain us through the morning hours.  Ever the one to employ the latest technological advances, he volunteered to purchase, at his own expense, a magical text titled, “The Secret Language of Birthdays.”  We may all have taken a few steps closer to enlightenment as we discovered the meaning and significance behind the day in which we were each born. Tony possesses disciplined artistic sensibilities, while I Commodore Harris, have my own liberated artistic sensibilities.  James, our leader, the man who leads us into and out of the fiercest fires of Hell, has his innocent heroic inevitability which pairs well with Jonathan’s trusted wild call.  Lastly, the wise sage of our group, the indomitable Mike, has been foretold to be a liberated hell raiser.

We are a merry band of misfits.  Not quite social outcasts, but well on our way.  We bring our own form and function to this endeavor.  We do not seek wealth or riches.  We do not wish to impose our customs upon the local tribes.  We travel because it is what we must do.  We are curators of an art that quickly approaches extinction.  We are the one-percent.  The one-percent at the bottom, doing the work so-called civilized people dare not do.  The cost is great and the heaviest price is time away from our loved ones.  Will they be patient and wait for our eventual return or will they move on?  Will they even remember us?  Will we remember them?  Our health and mental wellbeing always hang in the balance between the dark and the light.

We have many more miles to log before our first stop in Athens, GA.  We know not what awaits us, but we press forward with cautious optimism.  We have heard rumors of a settlement called New Orleans that awaits us when the sun begins to fall, where the whores run like stray dogs in the streets, spreading disease and pestilence.  We will be forced to stop, to give The Jolly Rogers the rest she deserves after an arduous day keeping our relentless pace.  We are guided by the Belt of Orion.  Lord, protect us.



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

We slept under the stars of Alabama last night, awoke at dawn, and continue our voyage against the wind.  The Jolly Rogers shelters us from the elements, but she is mercilessly beaten by the wind and uneven terrain.  She drinks heartily when we give her rest.  We also drink heartily when we allow ourselves to rest.  After an hour of camaraderie, tired from travel and glossy-eyed from drink, we retired to our bunks.

We are warm, well rested, our bellies full, and though we are anxious to be able to share our gifts with the good people of Athens this eve, our heats hang heavy.  What began as a sunny day, bright and full of hope, has clouded over.  Snow has begun to fall as we plow through the white, long-needled pines just south of Atlanta, GA.  As is to be expected in these endeavors, our best laid plans are always under scrutiny and always challenged.  We were forced into waters none of us had anticipated. We are used to the requirements and to think quickly in order to ward off disaster along the way, but we are still able to be surprised.  Again, James, our heroic leader, thinking on his feet, most cool under intense heat, was able to guide us from a tragic situation into a tolerable one.  He is to be commended for his diplomacy.  Without him, we would likely leave many bridges burned, and towns reduced to rubble in our wake.  In a world as lawless as this one, the only rule we follow to the letter is the Golden Rule.  We are reminded of this again today.

The road ahead is long, but it is well worn.  We are not the first of our kind, but we may be some of the last.  The climb to the top continues to get more steep and narrow.  The odds are firmly against any financial success, but we all readily acknowledge that there are far easier and more comfortable ways in which to earn one’s keep.  There is no reason to pretend we know what lies ahead.  We have a vague map, and information is used and evaluated as it is presented.  We eagerly look forward to meeting new friends tonight in Athens, and we remind ourselves that while we travel mile after mile, hour after hour, day after day, all of our sacrifice is for that short duration of time in which we get to hold our instruments and commune with the audience through music.



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

What a wonderful place Athen’s, GA is.  We are uniquely fortunate in that while we pass through settlements not fit for civilized inhabitation, our destinations are quite cultural and give us a steady stream of inspiration.  As we continue our journey en route to Charlotte, NC, I reflect fondly on the events of yesterday and yesternight.

We deployed anchor in Athens amid a small squall.  The wind bit at our faces and the snow found its way down our shirt collars.  Our hastened pace allowed us to arrive early with time to spare; an uncommon but welcome occurrence.  Wanting to expand the horizons of our pallets, we were able to retreat from the storm into Trappeze, a finely independent institution, to quaff ale crafted from Athens’ own Terrapin Brewery.  It is customary for us to sample the local spirits and give unto the local economy during our travels.

It was the evening of our first performance, and the band we shared status with was most generous.  The Athens Tango Project is a wonderful band of musicians, and a very fine group of people.  This author can speak for my entire clan when I say that we very much enjoyed the shared fellowship and the opportunity to hear them perform.  In a turn of good fortune, the front of house engineer was able-bodied, had the sweet disposition of a southern gentleman, and possessed the rare gift of knowing how to transparently amplify acoustic instruments.  Hendershots, our host, was more than generous by offering us gifts of food and drink (both stimulants and depressants, and like the alchemists of old, I was able to combine both to wonderful effect) in addition to our monetary compensation for sharing our specialized talents with the good citizens of Athens.

While our impression of our performance was adequate, a very fine couple approached us after our performance.  Without prompting or provocation, they offered us the lodging of their beautiful four bedroom estate nestled off the beaten path.  While we cherish the comfort and amenities The Jolly Rogers provides us, not limited to just being able to purge our bladders while in motion, we dare not decline the invitation to sleep in warm beds that are on level ground and the promise of a hot bath in the morning.  Our hosts gave us the key to their kingdom, advised us to stay as long as was required to rest, and sent us on our way.  Beautiful place, this Athens.  Her people have done very well by us, and we are most grateful for the warm reception.  When we have achieved our global domination, we will remember and take into account the kindness Athens has shown us.

The sun shines, and the wind is at our back.  Faint echoes of music from last night replays in our ears.  It is quite good to be on the road.  The surprises, both good and ill, have an uncanny way of balancing themselves.



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

Last night was a welcome night of rest.  While we have only had one performance thus far, we have spent much time barreling down America’s highways in the belly of The Jolly Rogers.  Our venture continues this evening at The Evening Muse in Charlotte, NC.

We have all settled into the routine of being on the road, and we have devolved into a five-headed-man-beast that is incapable of making even the simplest ideas or decisions come to fruition.  It is in these moments that clear communication becomes particularly important, and the ability to simply exist becomes a necessity.

With the newfound free time available to us, our group has found itself splintered on this midweek afternoon.  Tony and I, both sharing March 1 as our date of birth, referring to ourselves as “March Firsters,” though Tony is a few years more weathered than myself, were advocating for a rehearsal as a way to effectively spend our hours.  Not to be dismissed, the indomitable Mike demanded an opportunity to experience local culture.  I advised that I had enough culture for the whole venture hanging between my legs, but he persisted. James and Jonathan joined Mike in his foolhardy quest.  Whilst our comrades sought out a museum, Tony and I commandeered The Jolly Rogers and navigated her as a skeleton crew.

We have docked our craft in the heart of Elmwood Cemetery.  As I write, the sun does its best to warm the cold breeze, and it reflects effortlessly off the worn granite of the McClung burial plot.  To the immediate right of the McClung’s resting place, a pair of laborers, working at a steady and deliberate pace, fill a grave full of fresh earth that is rich with clay.

Private time is a rarity while traveling, and I take advantage of it whenever it is offered.  There are few others that I would so willingly leave the creature comforts of my home to explore new territories with, but I am thankful for the quiet of this afternoon as I rest among those who rest eternally.  The days ahead will be long, traveling great distances to perform, with little opportunity to catch our breath along the way.  The big push begins tonight in the Queen City, where Downtown is called Uptown, and Billy Graham’s all-seeing-evangelist-eye holds dominion over saints and sinners alike.



Friday, February 12, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ Account.

There are rats in the hull.  One of our own has taken ill.  Unknown causes.  We all have our private hypotheses inclusive the poor administration of nutritional supplements and fish oil, cold late nights, the decision to abstain from bathing, or his fondness for the sweet leaf.  Regrettably, we cannot afford to delay our pace or to break stride.  While he rests, sweating through the now yellowed blankets, we have concluded that there is the real possibility we may have to aid his passing from this life into the next.  I shudder to think of such measures needing to be taken, but one of us will be forced to use the hammer in an act of mercy to free his ailing soul.

Moving on to matters of a more cheerful nature, we had the wonderful fortune of bringing our message to the masses in Charlotte, NC last night.  We were taken aback by the sheer number of locals who came out to sample our aural wares.  To be greeted with such applause and accolades humbly reminded us that our mission does have inherent value to it. Never have I, Commodore Harris, been greeted with such warm fanfare following the opening piece, and I have traveled extensively in this mercenary profession.  We are very much looking forward to a return voyage to the Evening Muse in the Queen City as soon as time and scheduling allows.

We bid a fond farewell to our gracious hostess this morning.  She was a most elegant maiden, and we are in her debt for allowing us to tie-off The Jolly Rogers to her estate.  As I write, we are resting in Durham, NC, after a hearty meal of eastern barbecued pork at The Pit.  We sip artisanal coffee and half-heartedly discuss the plan of attack for our engagement this evening at The Shed.  Our standard method is to strike virgin ears fiercely without relenting, only allowing for brief moments to catch one’s breath.

There are moans and grunts from our fallen mate coming from the sleeping quarters.  Even with the distance between him and the observation deck, we hear is pain, and the slushing around of his gut rot.  The indomitable Mike, having circled the sun nearly forty more times than our heroic leader, James, does not share in our hope for our distressed partner, insisting on delivering him from evil and scouting the unknown area for a cellist in proper health.



Saturday, February 13, 2016

Captain’s Log.  Commodore Harris’ account.

We had a burdened sleep last night.  The temperature has been falling steadily on our journey and plummeted last night.  The wind bites at our faces like a starving pack of wolves who now smell an easy prey.  The Jolly Rogers has been our protector, but takes the treacherous weather head on.  Icicles hang from her corners and frost covers her portholes.  In an attempt to drop some ballast, we emptied the black tank, which held a mixture of human excrement and an equal amount antifreeze, but I fear we may be pushing her too hard for her advanced age.

We have made it to the capital of this nation.  Despite the governing bodies being comprised almost entirely of caucasian males, babbling incoherently at each other, who cannot seem to agree on anything, there is a great and beautiful diversity of culture in this place.  It makes one wonder how in a land that refers to itself as “The Free,” the majority of its inhabitants are slaves to the few. Monuments symbolizing wisdom, strength, and the determination for what is ethically right, while rooted in ancient pagan ritual, stand misunderstood, or even worse, ignored all together.  They loom tall and cast long shadows at this hour.

We met our host, David, this afternoon.  So often, my men and I venture without any allies in the foreign destinations we seek out.  He is a most generous and understated feudal lord.  A man who cares deeply of his subjects, and who speaks to them as if they are equal in social standing.  He is a curator of independent music, an impresario, and we are honored to be his guests this evening.  At this point in our journey, we happily welcome the company, gifts, and accommodations he joyously provides us.

We unloaded our wares into the awe inspiring Falls Church.  Rich with history, original construction of this structure began in 1732, and its namesake comes from its geographic location. Our guide informed us that George Washington was a parishioner, and it was occupied by confederate troops during the depending-on-what-side-you-stand War of Northern Aggression.  We eagerly await our opportunity to make music in the beautiful circular hall with its hand laid brick floor and heavenly reverberations.

We must awake before the cock crows tomorrow.  A hard haul to Asheville awaits us.  While we are looking forward to our performance nestled in the mountains, it will be a grueling travel day in order to bring our music to the ears of her people.



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

Valentine’s Day.  The Feast of St. Valentine.  We are reminded on this day of those we hold dearest to our hearts.  We are also reminded of those chalky candy hearts, and the gentile Texas turn of phrase, “That certainly is a gun in my pocket, and it’s holstered for you, Valentine.”

We have surpassed the halfway mark on our voyage, and I’m sure we all could have benefited greatly from more rest last night.  It would be hugely practical if we were able to bed ourselves at an earlier hour, but it takes a good while to calm the mind after such performances.  We have found that craft ale, of which we maintain an ample supply, continually refreshed, helps to bring us to a gentle state of evening tranquility.

We had an excellent performance in Falls Church, and I cannot stress our appreciations for our feudal lord and host, David.  A generous man if ever there was one.  So often, we may find ourselves at home, stuck in our own heads, feeling morose about the state of the world.  Through these travels abroad, we have the fortune to meet some of the kindest and most giving people; the kind of people you may think no longer exist.  We get to participate in a facet of life which goes largely ignored by those who disseminate information to the masses.  We may not speak the same language or agree on matters of the soul, but we get to experience some of the best sides of humanity.

As we forge ahead through the Shenandoah Valley, now a full week into our quest, our heroic leader, noticing a waning of energy among the crew, saw fit to cook us a hearty breakfast.  While I manned the helm, doing my absolute best to wrangle The Jolly Rogers and keep her ib course, James treated us all to a fine, made to order breakfast without any slackening of pace.  We all agree it may not be the safest method to obtain sustenance, but we also agree that it was a most enjoyable and entertaining way to pass the time.  The things we must do to keep the faith strong.

We have almost made it to Asheville, NC.  The weather remains bitterly cold, but there is a stark elegance to the mountainous landscape.  As we crest, a blue haze envelopes the the distant peaks.  A light crust of snow has held onto the branches of the naked trees.  In the valleys, water once gently flowing, has frozen against the stone cliffs that border our winding trail and presents the feeling of being in a fantastical forgotten world.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

Our time in Asheville was wholly too short.  I believe the men and I could have kept ourselves properly dehydrated for a few days without repeating a single beverage in that wonderful city.  We found ourselves on the receiving end of good fortune, and the whole experience exceeded our expectations.  The more one travels, the more chance one has of facing an uninspiring performance situation or some other trial of the spirit, and thankfully, without hexing our final upcoming showcase, we have not had to face that particular dilemma this trip.

We have crossed the threshold into kinder weather with the worst of it behind us.  We were able to successfully stay a day ahead of some frightful winter squalls that were cutting across the southeast, and save for a bit of rain, it ought to remain smooth sailing.  It was pure luck, and we were blissfully unaware how close we stood to the precipice of disaster.

I find the travel days to be the most difficult.  We are on this adventure to perform, and no matter what happens, the performance is our reward for a day spent trying to occupy the mind without offending anybody else aboard The Jolly Rogers.  In the tight quarters, it is easy to wear out one’s welcome, but we are a rare group, keenly aware of this, and we all do our absolute best to be respectful.

I was able to rest my eyes for what felt like a brief moment this afternoon.  As I laid down, it was still quite wretched and dismal outside, but upon waking, a familiar and welcome humidity had seeped into the cabin, and the temperature was nearly fifty degrees higher outside.  My hands have been lapping up the moisture. Once scaly skeletal talons, they are now starting to once again resemble the artistry of an intelligent designer.

We are heading directly into the swamp lands of New Orleans.  Mardi Gras, a celebration of some kind of heretical devilry was last week, and we are unsure as to what the condition of the city will be in.  She was almost eradicated, erased, swept clean off the map a few years ago from a tempest of biblical proportions, but she still stands, as I understand it, because of the effort from the local tribes and without real help from the federal overlords.  We will make our final stand in this place often referred to as The Big Easy.  When our work is complete, we shall head home for two weeks to recuperate and rest.  In March, we head west to confront, court, and conquer the mountains and desert.



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

I failed my post yesterday.  I let my team down, and I let myself down.  Letting myself down is a daily activity, often multiple times, but letting my team down is unacceptable.  An entire twenty-four hour cycle went unaccounted for.  There is a reason, not a terribly good reason, but a reason nonetheless, for why I was unable to record the details from the daily events from February 16.  And what a glorious day it was.

There needs to be an addendum on the entry on February 15.  At the time of writing, I had assumed smooth seas for safe passage.  We were not expecting to have to press forward through torrential rains, gale force winds, and tornado activity.  We were caught off guard at dusk by the southern tip of a magnificent storm system.  James took The Jolly Rogers as far as she could safely go before making an executive decision to immediately halt our progress due to safety concerns.  James was weary and worn from such focused attention navigating the dismal conditions. I took the reigns once the rains relented.  We were not in the clearing for long, and I was soon forced to take evasive measures and to dock The Jolly Rogers to wait out another intense barrage of weather.  We were losing time, and daylight was behind us.  As conditions slowly improved, we cautiously moved on, making it to our final destination, New Orleans, much later than anticipated.  As we pulled our craft into port, we were overjoyed to see that the RV park, the Luxury RV park, had a bar still open for business, with reasonably priced libations.  After a bit of swashbuckling conversation with the locals, we hailed a ramshackle cab and went into the heart of downtown Nola.  Mike, the liberated hell raiser, in an unexpected show of restraint, opted out of the adventure, choosing to retire after a long day, but he would make his presence felt tomorrow (more on that a bit later).  James, Jonathan, Tony, and I, Commodore Harris were in search of food and drink as the clock inched closer to the midnight hour.  There is no shortage of revelry in New Orleans, and there was still plenty to occupy the senses on an “off” night.  The clock ticked and we desperately wanted to eat before The Stripper Rush, which occurs at approximately 4am each morning, would make for an even longer night.  With our eyelids growing heavy, we decided to pack it in, and hail an Uber.  Blessed technology.  Before we could properly tip the barkeep, Lisa had arrived and we piled into her automobile.  She informed us that we had docked the Jolly Rogers quite far from town, in an area unfamiliar to her.  We were able to ease her mind by being perfect gentlemen, although slightly giggly, and we repeatedly emphasized that we had no murderous intent.

Sleep came quickly aboard once aboard our traveling home away from Home.

Now routine, we awoke with the sun, and being on the eastern side of the time zone, the sun rises earlier than we would have preferred.  Not wanting to waste a perfectly available day, we hopped to, gathered our things and made our way, this time with our Liberated Hell Raiser, a full quintet, to the French Quarter.  We had but one simple objective prior to our performance that evening: Eat, drink, and be merry.  We treated ourselves to beignets and chicory coffee.  A righteous beginning to the day.  The Crescent City has the best street music culture of anywhere we have visited.  As the day wore on, our heroic leader, James, wanting something a bit more substantial to eat, led us to a fine establishment for a relaxed sit down meal.  Always looking for maximum value of our minimal currency, we could not help but be drawn to the martinis that were twenty-five cents each.  For clarity in the log: twenty-five cents each.  Round one came and disappeared quickly.  Our waiter could not even ask if we wanted a second before Mike cut him off demanding more.  Our Hell Raiser had a first-class ticket and was bringing us all along for the ride.  Round two arrived, more substantial in size than round one.  We had a glorious meal. The cajun cuisine hits the palette in all of the right places.  As we were about to settle our debts, our waiter asked if we wanted martinis to-go.  There was no time to mull it over.  Of course we did.  We were presented with even bigger drinks on this third round.  I believe we were all feeling quite giddy at this point.  Speaking only for myself, I was in an irresponsible mental state after our second, but the opportunity to roam the streets on a beautiful afternoon with liquid happiness in hand was too tempting to pass up.

We were unloaded unto the streets.  Our ears filled with sounds of the city and our eyes filled with art and architecture.  Our trajectory was anything but intentional.  We frolicked, danced, boogied, grooved, and cajoled our way through town thankful for the sun’s rays and grateful to be rid of the subzero temperatures of the north.  The swamp land was our land.

Our libations began to wear off in the late afternoon.  We found our way back to The Jolly Rogers to regroup for our final performance of this venture.  When you set out, it seems like an eternity.  You give into the ebb and flow of travel, and each day begins to blur into the next.  By the time the final day arrives, you can scarcely believe it and wonder where the time went.  At the show, the odds were against us due to some problematic acoustics and problematic patrons, but we delivered all that we could as best as we could, and we were proud to give our all for those who cared to listen.

At this very moment, the Captain’s Log for this adventure comes to a close.  I am sitting in an aluminum tube that through sheer force has muscled its way 30,000 feet into the heavens.  My brothers aboard The Jolly Rogers are without The Commodore.  They take the road back to our fort of operations in Austin while I steal away to upstate New York.  I miss them already, and I am replaying the many laughs and ridiculousness we all shared.  Make no mistake, we are all quite mad, and quite happily so.  I do look forward to being reunited with my fair lady and our corgi child.  I look forward to sleeping in my own bed, and I look forward to taking a long hot shower that doesn’t require that I do everything in my power to avoid touching any of my surroundings.  I love being home, but I also love the unknown of the road.  I wish my comrades safe passage to their homes.  We will reunite in two weeks for more global conquest, and more importantly, more of the Captain’s Log.