Tara, Ashby, and I headed north to the in-laws early Saturday morning to spend some time with Tommy, my father-in-law, for his 62nd birthday. As it turned out the weekend coincided with the third annual Area 61 UFO Convention. Two years ago Tara and I stumbled upon this conference. It's like entering an alternate dimension. The event is held at Lakeview Castle, which is a bar/restaurant on the North shore of Lake Superior. The place is too big for it’s location and it bears a strong resemblance to a run down quasi-castle. The first time we stumbled upon the Area 61 Convention we were diving into about a hundred and fifty hipsters, folks with antennae, wannabe Men In Black, and a modern dance troupe that danced a diddy while William S. Burroughs performed spoken voice over a techno beat. Mix in some lumberjacks and you've got a pretty good idea what this place and event is like. Pretty trippy.
After getting to the in-laws’ house on Saturday morning, Brenda (mother-in-law) informed us Area 61 was going on. Suddenly our celebration of Tommy’s birthday morphed into Tara and I getting some, much needed, time out alone. (Happy Birthday Tommy, thanks) We got to Lakeview a little after 9 PM. This being the event's third it had grown considerably. This was the first time I’ve ever known Lakeview to charge a cover. The Black Labels were playing and they are worth a lot more than the $5 cover; so, I didn't mind. A band named Crew Jones took stage a little after we got there. They had a good sound (reminiscent of Soul Coughing), but their sound setup was total crap. A monkey must have been working their sound board.
Tara and I chatted with the percussion/trombone player from The Black Labels at the bar for a bit while Crew Jones playes. He's a good guy. If you haven’t been to a Black Labels show you’re missing out. They’re the best band I’ve heard in MN that's from MN since the Surahoolies back in the mid-90s. I wonder: whatever happened to the Surahoolies? Anyway, The Black Labels are great They are dance hall, but regularly riff into surfer rock. Duluth has a peculiarly active music scene.
Anyway, Area 61 was definitely the highlight of the weekend. Otherwise my time has been devoted to preparing for KMWorld, where I’ll be speaking in just over a week and completing a proposal.