Jean-luc and Vlad were in Cleveland for a recording session at Mind Fry Studios. It was a Saturday night and they had been recording all afternoon. It was going on 6 when they wrapped up for the night. John McGrail had been doing the engineering and said “Guys I think we’ve got all the takes were going to get today. How about some dinner?”


“Sounds good to me.” Jean-luc said while Vlad nodded his head in agreement.


“I can cook or we could head up to The Standard. It’s a new joint on the strip.” John said. John was no chef but he had a decent handle on the kitchen but the other two said in unison “The Standard”. So to save money they had their cocktails at Mind Fry, which always sported a well stocked bar. John and Jean-luc had Manhattans while Vlad took his vodka on the rocks. They sat in the back yard as it was a warm spring night and had their drinks. They would walk over to The Standard in a bit.


“Anything going on tonight in Cleveland? John.” Jean-luc asked. John got a thoughtful look on his face and went over the things he had seen while perusing Facebook and the local entertainment rag.
“Someone I’ve not heard is playing up at the Euclid City Limits. That’s a cool place. Good listening room. Free pizza and you can bring your own alcohol. Someone is at the Barking Spider though I don’t know who and there is this avante garde performance in Tremont, a guy I knew years ago when he was a student at the institute of music is putting on. It’s him and his group Lisp. And then there is a duo from Pittsburgh that combines percussion and dance. I think Lisp has some dancers performing with them too. Tremont’s a cool area.”


“That sounds like an idea.” Jean-luc chimed in. Vlad nodded in agreement.


“Well lets try that. It’s in a yoga studio over there. It’s right by where I get coffee when I’m at work.” So they finished their drinks and walked over to the Standard. The food was very good. Jean-luc and Vlad both had the steak while John had the Mac and Cheese. They finished and walked back to the Mind Fry complex and got in Johns old 97 Civic and headed west. They got there about ½ hour early. John had thought the show was at 8:00 but it was scheduled for 8:30 So they got coffee’s from the coffee shop and wandered around the neighborhood.


“Trendy place.” Vlad noted.


“Indeed, I used to come down here when I had a Grey Sky together and Smagola, the bass player, lived around here. I think on West 10th, the place has since burned down, sadly with 2 of his basses in it. It wasn’t trendy then. It was a little on the dangerous side. Still is on some levels. There have been holdups and even a few murders but nothing like it was back in the 80's. One night Jim and I were drinking rum and we went out for a walk. Headed down the hill over there. At one point Jim stopped and says to me. "We don’t want to go any further. We should go back." Seems there was a building with squatters in it and they really didn’t like others coming around. It was a fun night. I was young and wild and the city was an adventure back then. I’m much more familiar with it now. Doesn’t seem quite so exciting. At least to me.”


“It’s a nice area though.” Jean-luc added. “Definitely trendy with all the valet parking. It’s nice street parking is free. You don’t get that in New York." So it was almost time for the performance and the 3 went over to the studio where it was being presented and went in. There was a couch against one wall and then yoga mats on the floor for the audience to sit on. John and Jean-luc sat on the mats while Vlad took the last spot on the couch. It was just starting. A man with a long grey pony tail, glasses and a pink cap came out and announced the program for the evening. 3 pieces 2 with dance. The whole presentation should be just over an hour. Then he went and sat behind the Wurltizer and that was when John realized that the man was his old friend Jason. He was unrecognizable from the young man he used to know who had short black hair and was on the skinny side. He would talk to him after. The piece had a dirge-like groove to it and there was a woman playing a processed viola. Also there were 3 young woman, siren-esque, John was thinking, that came out and did the dancing. It wasn’t an athletic dance but rather one of slow movements. The woman were sliding around the floor and pulling each other around. Jean-luc took a particular liking to the small dark haired waif. He might consider hitting on her after he was thinking. The piece lasted about 20-25 minutes. Next up were the duo from Pitt. The woman danced while the percussionist created the rhythm she moved to. He was unique in his approach. Using various things to create the sounds. He had a floor tom and a rototom as his main instruments but he augmented them with a variety of other pieces including what looked like an automobiles spring, chimes removed so they were separate bars. He would actually toss these out on to the dance floor where the woman would move to the sound they created hitting and sliding across the floor. She would then pick them up and use them to create more sound. Their ability to work together was actually quite impressive. John looked over at Vlad sitting on the couch and Vlad looked back and nodded his approval. Jean-luc was concentrating on the dancer who, while more solid than the previous dark haired waif, also encourage his mind to consider hitting on this one afterwards. The third act was a woman playing both a flute and sax that were heavily processed. She was running them through delays and distortion and some other things. This got loud. At the end of the night all the performers did a group improvisation. When the last piece ended the lights went up Jason came out to thank everyone for coming and that was when John went up to say hello. Jason turned and just as he was about to tell him he was himself Jason recognized him and say “Hey” he gave John a big hug and they talked for a bit. He introduced him to Vlad and mentioned they were in town for a Headwhiz recording and then turned to introduce Jean-luc but he had moved over towards where the dark haired waif was gathering her things and was talking to her. He pointed towards Jean-luc and said “He’s also in the group. Does the flutes and whistles. Jason then announced that they were all going over to the Literary, a local bar, for a drink and everyone was welcome to join them. This the 3 did although Jean-luc accompanied the dark haired waif, who’s name was Clarissa. Seems Jean-luc had worked his magic on her and she seemed very interested in this older gentleman with the French accent. Vlad and John sat at the bar. John had a pint while Vlad went with his usual vodka. Jean-luc sat at one of the small tables with Clarissa and one of the other dancers they all drank red wine.


“What’d ya think Vlad?”


“It was good. At least the first two pieces. That woman on the processed sax and flute sucked. Just noise as far as I’m concerned.”


“Yeah, that was my thinking as well. I’m ok with working with distortion and feedback and even dissonance but she sucked.”


“She did nothing that hasn’t been done a million times before. I’d be embarrassed if I were her.”


“If you were her, or she you, it wouldn’t have sucked.” John said.


“Wonder what Jean-luc thought. He processes his instruments but he sounds way better than she did. Too loud too.”


“D’ja notice the one woman who walked out while she played.”


“Yeah..”


“I noticed her making a face towards the woman she came in with that said ‘can’t take this I’m out of here.’” John added. At that point Jean-luc was standing next to Vlad who turned and gave him a look that said “Yes, what is it?”


“This is Clarissa, gentlemen. Clarissa this is Vladimir Polchinski the great bassist of the Headwhiz Consort and this is John McGrail a fine musician in his own right. He’s from Cleveland.”


“Nice to meet you. My friend Annie, one of the other dancers, has seen you play at the Spider recently. Said you have a great voice.” Clarissa said.


“Aw shucks. She’s too shy to say anything to you but she saw you walk in tonight and told me that. It’s too bad she left. I could have introduced you to her.”


“Well, tell her I play at the end of April, the 27th I think it is. I’d love to meet her. Your dancing was kind of the highlight of the evening for me” he said, which wasn’t really the truth as he actually thought the pair form Pitt were the highlight but a white lie to possibly meet a cute woman or gain a new fan was an acceptable lie in John’s world.


“Well nice to meet you. I’ll remember the date and drag her down there. She can be notoriously shy though. Nice meeting you.” and she turned to leave so John and Vlad looked at Jean-luc. “I’m going to walk her home. She lives in Tremont. They turned and were about to go out the door when Jean-luc came back to John and said “Don’t wait for me. If I come back and you’re gone I’ll get a cab... If I come back.” Jean-luc said with a 1/4 of a smile on his face. John looked at Vlad and Vlad nodded his head. When Jean-luc and Clarissa were out the door John turned to Vlad and said “How does he do it? By the way we can go anytime Vlad. He ain’t coming back.”


“Let’s stay for a bit anyway. Not to wait but the vodka is good and the scene is too. When we want to leave we’ll leave. You’re right John... he won’t be back.”


“It’s a plan” John said.