More than a decade ago, through a convoluted series of coincidences, I found myself reunited with Liquid Prairie, playing out in front of the Birmingham Museum of Art. I'd moved down here about six months before, and the museum was participating in an Art Car event. There was a big contingent coming down from St. Louis, of course, and eventually it seemed natural to ask Liquid Prairie to perform for the event. We had a fine time.
That evening, there was a fancy reception at a large house in one of the tonier suburbs of Birmingham. The couple that lived there (he'd made his money in construction; she was a lawyer) had turned the house into a living museum of avant-garde art, so we felt right at home. We did an impromptu acoustic set on the big staircase and the crowd was nicely appreciative. A little later, we were standing in the buffet line, and a sweet and enthusiastic woman started babbling about how she had a good friend who was an executive with MCA Records (at the time the most important label in country music), and before she could get any further, Ferd, Ranger Dave and I turned to her and, in unison, said, "We are strictly a live act!" We knew that whatever impact we had came from the energy and the showmanship of performance, and there didn't seem much likelihood that a recording would capture that. Instead, it'd merely highlight the mistakes and lack of any sort of musical sophistication. It'd be a disappointment.
That's pretty much the way that I felt when SG started talking about recording the Bearded Pigs in Phoenix last spring. I was not very much in favor of the idea, but he stressed that he just wanted some kind of a reference recording, not anything to distribute. "Fine," I finally said. "You want to set up some microphones that's fine with me. I'm just not going to spend any energy on it."
I've listened to the recording a couple of times now, over the last few months, and I'm more impressed than I expected to be. The quality is pretty lousy -- SG and Blind Lemon just set up two microphones in corners of the room, so the mix is terrible. My voice is way out front, the drums and bass are barely there and I can't hear much of Bruce's lead guitar at all. Some of TomCat & Tambourine Grrl's harmonies come through though, and despite myself I have to say that we don't sound too bad.
So as SG tries to figure out how to manage some recording when the Pigs gather in Memphis at the end of March (for what we're referring to as "the Brown Beverage Sessions") I'm warming to the idea a bit. I still don't want to get distracted by the process of recording, but if he can get a few microphones well placed around the room and record everything, there ought to be something out of all of those hours that might be worth listening to. It'd be fun to have a CD with a few tunes on it that we could give to Thicket Society members in Philadelphia.
After all, Liquid Prairie eventually did make a CD, and it turned out to be quite fine.