Last year on this date, we performed at the Le Guess Who festival (very possibly a redundant “the,” but it’s like the last week of school around here: we go home after a half day, and standards are slipping). When we left the stage after our set, we discovered Glenn Jones and Michael Chapman in the wings. A few twisted arms later and they were on playing “Speeding Motorcycle” with us, Glenn on one of our acoustic guitars (in the standard EADGBE tuning that he never utilizes) and Michael on electric.
Meanwhile, back in Hoboken, December 1 marked the start of Hanukkah 2010. M. Ward played the opening set and sat in for a bunch of ours; Todd Barry drummed on “Angst in My Pants”; Nash Kato sang the holiday standard, “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.” And as Ron Popeil put it so eloquently: But wait, there’s more. Having decided there was no better way to kick off Hanukkah than with Elvis Presley’s “One Night” changed to “Eight Nights,” we asked promoter extraordinaire Todd Abramson to find us an Elvis impersonator, and before you could say “do the clam,” he had lined up Gene DiNapoli. In 30 years, I can’t pretend we haven’t made some mistakes, but one of them was not letting an Elvis impersonator get away with just one song–we closed the night with “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” and “Burning Love” (complete with M. Ward, a horn section, and Nash Kato on backup vocals).
I’m forced to double Popeil you, because this is also the anniversary of Ray Davies on the Maxwell’s stage. Night 3 of Hanukkah 2002 had already been remarkable with the Fleshtones (Peter Zaremba sang “Cara-Lin” and “In the Sun” with us) and Fred Armisen. When we finished our set with “Nuclear War” (joined by Ferecito), we didn’t yet know whether Ray had made it. He had. The four of us took the stage and I played it as cool as I could, barely introducing him, knowing full well that everyone in the room would recognize him. My miscalculation was that given the sightlines at Maxwell’s, far from everyone in the room could see him. Expecting the 200+ in the audience to react as one, instead it was more of a ripple, as more and more people realized who our guest was. We played “This Is Where I Belong” (later the final song that Yo La Tengo would perform at Maxwell’s), “Animal Farm” and “Till the End of the Day.”