The Year of the Tropical Hot Dog Night

For us 2011 will forever be The Year of the Tropical Hot Dog Night.

Despite everything we accomplished last year (Maritime tours, opening for CCR and Michel Pagliaro, a positively reviewed new record), the one thing that we kept returning to, that was oft quoted and repeated, much to the dismay of our close friends, was the Captain Beefheart song “Tropical Hot Dog Night”, from the 1972 album Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller).

How did this happen, and more importantly, who’s to blame?

It started in the Maritimes with our new record to sell

I’d like to point the finger at our producer Mark Goodwin, and our drummer Robert Harris. Mark and Robert were with us on our first tour of the Maritimes in March and April. We had just released our new record, I Stand in the Weeds, see, and we figured the best place to start selling it after a successful launch in Montreal, was the Maritimes.

Well as any traveling musician knows, sometimes the only thing you can do on the long drives between gigs is listen to music. If my tastes in music are conventional, then Mark and Robert’s border on the bizarre.

Both had brought mixes with songs from a variety of artists. But nothing stood out quite like Beefheart’s Tropical Hot Dog Night. (Okay, maybe Hasil Adkin’s We Got a Date stood out as well, but THDN has many more layers to it). Fortunately for us, Robert had the compilation Dust Blows Forward on his iPod. We highly recommend this collection, but it’s best if you listen to it during your alone time.

It has its upsides

As I was saying, I’d like to blame them for putting this song in our heads, but the truth is, Andre and I are nothing more than musical sponges and cultural reference parrots. If we’ve seen it or heard it on Seinfeld, or the Simpsons, or Alone in the Wilderness, the film that chronicles the life of Dick Proenneke, then we’re going to repeat it. And if you happen to get in the way, then it’s your own fault!

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! I think our ability to eat up and spit out what we enjoy with such fervor is what makes us stand out at events like BOBFEST, the 70th birthday tribute for Bob Dylan organized by lifelong Dylan fan Mitch Melnick back in May. I haven’t liked Dylan for very long (I could never get past his “voice”), but about 6 years ago I immersed myself in his music in a very condensed time frame. I’ll never forget Mitch’s compliment to us at the end of the night: “For someone who’s new to Dylan, you do his music justice”.

One unexpected show leads to another

We had no idea that night that within one week we’d go from playing a tribute show for one musical icon to actually meeting and opening for two others. Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford are the original bass player and drummer for Creedence Clearwater Revival. They don’t play with John Fogerty anymore, but their offshoot project, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, tours regularly, and in June they came to Montreal.

I didn’t think much of our chances, or the contest for that matter, when I submitted the video of us performing “Modern Warfare” at our album launch; I didn’t even tell the other members of the band about it. So when I got the email telling us we had won, three days before the show, I had to scramble to make sure I could get everyone on board.

Despite the near-winter conditions in early June, there was still a generous crowd that came out to the show, and I don’t think they left disappointed with either the headliners or the openers.

I’m still not sure if it’s because we were friendly, or if it’s because we played well, or if it’s because we finished our set in the allotted time (punctuality will take you places, folks), but the following week the organizers of the CCR show offered us a spot opening for Michel Pagliaro at the Fete de St-Lambert in August.

An actual Tropical Hot Dog Night

We capped off the summer with a second tour of the Maritimes that found us out as far as Sydney, NS. And yes, there are plans to return in 2012.

But long before the summer came to an end, we indulged ourselves in an actual Tropical Hot Dog Night. We won’t lie and say it was the greatest thing this world’s ever seen, but how many barbecues have you been to where they’ve served grilled beef’s heart (get it?) and dressed up in Captain Beefheart-themed costumes?

What will 2012 be the year of?

We’re looking forward to 2012 with great anticipation. There are already some shows booked for the first three months, and there will be a feature in a major newspaper in February.

But beyond that, we’re going to sit back and wait for someone to pique our interest in a new silly video or obscure song, and let that take us where it wants.

Happy 2012 everybody!

Tropical Hot Dog Night (Lyrics by Captain Beefheart)

Tropical Hot Dog Night
Like two flamingoes in a fruit fight
Ev’ry colour of day
Whirlin’ around at night
I’m playin’ this music
So the young girls will come out
To meet the monster tonight
Tropical Hot Dog Night

Like two flamingoes in a fruit fight
I don’t wanna know ‘bout wrong or right
I don’t want to know
– I’m anywhere tonight

Tropical Hot Dog Night
Like two flamingoes in a fruit fight
Like steppin’ out of a triangle
Into striped light
Striped light, striped light
Tropical Hot Dog Night
– Everything’s wrong, at the same time it’s right

The truth has no patterns for me tonight
I’m playing this music so the young girls will come out
To meet the monster tonight
Meet the monster tonight

What do all you women do
When the men get Tropical Hot Dog payday?
What do you do on Tropical Hot Dog day day?
Yay; Yay

Step out of a triangle into striped light
Turn around and step back into striped light
Tropical Hot Dog Night

I’m playin’ this song
For all the young girls to come out to meet the monster tonight
Meet the monster tonight
How would you like to be the lucky girl,
The lucky one?
– To be the monster tonight
Ow, to be the monster tonight
Oh, everything’s wrong, at the same time it’s white!

You get to be – you get to be – with me
And also to be the monster tonight

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