Fair Games
Photo: Karen Ponzio

Photo: Karen Ponzio

For the past ten months (and hopefully for many more), Paul Belbusti and his band, Mercy Choir, have been hosting a concert series on the last Friday of the month at the one-of-kind Never Ending Books, in New Haven, CT: Mercy Choir and Friends.

On Friday, May 26th, I had the pleasure of performing at an unusual show in the series: Lines West and Mercy Choir, typically bands of 4+ musicians, appeared as a duo and a solo act, respectively.  I was (not so) secretly glad of this stripped-down scenario, as it made me and my laptop slightly less anomalous among the evening's fare.

I was thrilled to start off the night, and debuted two songs from my first EP, Pupa, that had yet to see the stage lights.  Lines West lulled the audience into comfortable revery with intimate arrangements and lovely harmonies, and dusted off some less-played songs of their own. (They also invited me back to the stage to don wings and bobbling antennae as their Honeybee.) And, had Paul simply pulled out his guitar and played any of his (literally) hundreds of well-loved songs, it would have been a perfect evening...

But he did us one better.

With the Mercy Choir and Friends residency in its tenth month, Paul had been looking for ways to keep things interesting— for himself, as well as his audience.  So he decided, for this solo show, to write an entirely new album. The ten songs which he played make up Fair Games, a startling album with songs ranging from the existential and introspective, to the speculative, and even the silly.

The twenty or so of us there that night were privy to a truly wonderful musical moment; the kind of moment that is— blessedly, and no less wonderfully for it— a semi-regular occurrence in New Haven.

Thank you, Paul, for a memorable night.

Sam Moth
Musings While Listening to Kenneth Kirschner's Field Recordings of a Protest Held at the Onset of the War in Iraq

I remember arriving in the terminal, confronted by a crowd so large it teemed like an ocean. My father took my hand, gripped it hard, and we weaved between the bodies like an eel through schools of fish.

The crowd did not dissipate on the sidewalks.  It densified, intensified, and the myriad voices converged into one.  We were not apart from this multitude, but a part of it. We were here to amplify that voice, if only by half a decibel.

I was nine inches shorter, then.  Seventeen years younger.  Among the smallest in the crowd, and possessing the greatest hope.  I had never seen the likes of this before.  I did not have to suspend my disbelief or stretch my imagination to hold faithfully to the dear hope that this would matter; this would make a difference.

An eight-foot-tall lobster, covered head to toe in crimson fuzz, danced through the streets.

Poster board signs shared strong opinions, and adults— more of them than I have ever seen— chanted obscenities in unison, without glancing at me or moving to cover my ears:

“1, 2, 3, 4- WE DON’T WANT YOUR FUCKING WAR!”

At the time, profanity felt powerful.  Perhaps if the Bush administration had actually been a pack of children, as they were alleged to be, they would have been persuaded by our rhetoric. 

I don’t mean to be a pessimist, now, but I have seen a lot since then. 

I have attended other marches, and attempted always to amplify the voices that I believe need to be heard— if only by a meagre microdecibel. 

But I watched Bill Nye Saves The World the other night, and it made me cringe, so I don’t really know what to do, now.