Eddie and I hosted the open mic night at Spirits of the West Saloon when that started in 1988. One night, Eddie showcased a talent that he regularly exercised while on the flat-water portions of his whitewater guide trips: he played “Oh! Susannah” on his harmonica, through his nose.
When we were writing and programming the sketches for Roadkill Live!!!, we were trying to figure out a slam-bang finale for the show. Edie had written a terrifically funny signature sketch, “Frozen Roadkill On A Stick,” and we needed a big show-biz ending. I asked Eddie if he could play the Star Spangled Banner through his nose, and he said yes. With that as our finale, we were guaranteed a standing ovation for every show in our 8-week run at the Greenback Lounge in the Wort Hotel (entrance through the world famous Silver Dollar Bar) in 1988.
Some 25 years later, that trick is the subject of the finale of A Roadkill Opera, in a 5-part-harmony song about Eddie playing the national anthem, by harmonica, through his nose. The music (from 1804, by Ferdinando Paer) is glorious. The lyrics have been well-received in both the Artomatic 2012 workshop of A Roadkill Opera and the 2013 studio recording.
The final shows from the 1988 Roadkill Live!!! run and the one-night-only 1992 Roadkill’s Greatest Hits! midnight show were videotaped—Eddie did a fine job on harmonica. The question is, should he ride that axe again? Would this be a suitable act for the final week of Stupid Human Tricks on Letterman? Would it be a good idea to lead into Eddie’s performance with the opera singers? Feel free to let me know what you think.
As we approach the anniversary date of the July 4 release of A Roadkill Opera on CD, I am very moved by the emails of support and encouragement people have been sending. How nice that people celebrate this underground opera sensation’s anniversary by holding parades, setting off sparklers (as used in the sketch “Frozen Roadkill On A Stick), and, most appropriately, barbecuing. I am touched. Really.
We even got some press: after appearing at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, the Town Courier’s Pam Schipper wrote in the June 18, 2014 edition “Parker’s ‘A Roadkill Opera’ Is Pure Punk.” Check it out at http://towncourier.com/parkers-a-roadkill-opera-is-pure-punk/.
Around the release date anniversary, look for the CD and sheet music to A Roadkill Opera as well as the book If You See Roadkill, Think Opera, at Lashof Violins in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and in the Jackson Hole area at the Valley Bookstore, Gifts of the Earth, and maybe even at Dornan’s in Moose, Wyoming (if we can convince Dennis that this is a good fit for the Hootenanny…)