Jem...Chapter 201

*Before…

We’re just thinking of supper when one of the older players comes over with a smile and he passes us a tray of coffees and offers us a note.

“We’d appreciate it if you girls would come.”

He gives us the old school country hat dip and walks off meeting an older woman in a nice sundress and hat.

I look at the note. “The Starlight Butterflies are invited to a barbeque and fish fry and kitchen party jam at 9:30 PM after the shut down with the Algoma County Players.”

Oh...Oh this, this is really, really cool these are all those old guys that play everywhere and all the little halls and weddings small little festivals and just even for churches or for fun.

My hand’s shaking with the note as I’m talking to the girls literally geeking out at how big a thing this sort of invite is within the musical community even if it’s locals.

Darlene’s close enough to hear and she, Janey and I take Max’s truck home so I can cook to bring something and get my bread done for tonight too.

I wasn’t expecting this!

This is so cool!

*And Now…

Darlene’s surprised that I make homemade bread and surprised that I have it ready and proofed off and I’ve a new bunch of things started too as the oven gets up to temperature like a big batch of biscuits that I sweeten with putting powdered milk in with the flour while I use the sifter and a little powdered or icing sugar along with the regular kind you still need the regular sugar for texture and I mix the baking powder right in with everything and then wait.

Good biscuits are all about timing.

Once the oven is up to temp I put the bread in and then make a batch of feather rolls which are another powdered milk roll and there’s a little corn syrup in them too.

And while I’m waiting on the bread I whip together cornbread. I have an easy way with cornmeal and self rising flour and pinch of salt and some extra virgin olive oil a little white pepper and all of the liquid is from a large can of cream corn and that can again of milk. You want to use Olive oil instead of veg oil if you’re making a savory cornbread it literally just works better and the pepper you don’t use a lot of and can’t see but it adds this little something in there.

Darlene’s taking care of Janey and she’s watching.

Janey’s doing that I’ve already been up and need my nap head nodding falling asleep in Darlene’s arms and I slip out and downstairs and grab one of our laundry baskets with clothes and towels in it and bring it in and let Janey sleep in it and she giggles and laughs about Magical Power Panties. And she plays with some tickled over being allowed to play in the laundry until she finds a snuggly towel and the smell of fresh laundry knocks her out.

“Dear lord girl you’re like a whirlwind?”

“Not really, it’s all timing honestly we needed bread for the house anyways and I make okay bread and it beats running to the store at the prices and the cost of gas these days just for bread and it’s so much better at breakfast.”

She smiles. “I know, I’ve had breakfast here Angel you keep a good house and you girls for all as young as you are have made it a home.”

“Well we’ve been lucky and we’ve had a lot of help plus I’m the unfun person.”

“The unfun person?”

“Maker of lists, payer of bills, saver of money.”

She’s nodding. “You do seem to have that going on with all of the business ideas. So much and you’re so young.”

I look at her. “Not really Darlene. That’s the thing these days so many kids have the options to stay home to do so much but the generations before us went into trades, moved out at our ages or right out of high school got married and had kids, went to war….there’s a lot of us not willing to wait for whatever to come along, not willing to settle and it’s not going to get just handed to us.”

She’s blinking at me. “Now I get that Max is like that, he’s had it rough with Melody dying and us being broke after all of that and him having to get a job because welfare was literally not willing to help because he had me helping. He’s been… he’s been burning the candle at both ends between work and us.”

I nod and take the first batch of bread out and start the finish on the biscuits. The finish is grated frozen butter and milk with sour cream in it because i don’t have buttermilk. The buttermilk’s acid reacts with the baking powder and the baking soda and starts them to rise and the frozen butter bits provide the needed fat in the recipe but at the same time as they melt they release steam and make the biscuits very light and fluffy.

I mix it fast too so the acid/powder reaction doesn’t all fizzle out and I mix them very lightly so they’re not overworked and they go into the really hot ovens.

I look at Darlene. “So what about your family?”

“Not much really, my own dad was killed in a car accident with my mom when I was in community college and that sunk me and Max’s dad for bills and when I was pregnant with Max, Steve took off leaving me all the bills to bury my folks and try to deal with things.”

“Ouch.”

Darlene shrugged. “He would have bailed anyway. He didn’t want to be on the hook for helping to pay with my parents funerals and was already bitching about them dying was going to put us in the hole. When I told him I was pregnant...he took off.”

“Sorry?”

She sighed. “Happens all the time, We’re blue collar, low income living or trying to live.”

“I hope things are getting better.”

“With Remy they sure are. Max has a chance of a better job and getting legit training as well as getting his GED. he needs all of that...we need all of that.”

I smile. “I like Max he’s a good guy.”

She smiles. “He better be, I raised him better than that.”

“And Kim? How do you feel about Kimmie?”

Darlene looks at me and bites her lip. “Honestly she scares me. She’s funny and fun and she’s a little dippy in a good way though I don’t know how much of that’s on purpose. She’s pretty and she makes Max and Janey laugh too and that’s awesome I just worry about the other shoe to drop.”

“Other shoe?”

“Well she might get cold feet... Max comes with baggage and with me as well as Janey.”

“She might but I don’t think so.”

“Why?”

“Experience, Kim...to Kimmie family, real family is important. I think besides you’re all already adopted.”

I’m not going to talk for Kimmie and the stuff with her and her family. I don’t even know how much that she’s told Max on that.

“She’s super talented too Angel what is she gets a better offer than here or just…”

I smile. “That’s the point with me Darlene. We’re doing good but SLB isn’t going to last forever and we’re planning on more school and doing things with what we are doing now and maybe actually going pro.”

“You’re not pros now?”

“We’re getting there but there’s a difference between getting paid and making money at music like this and getting called to play for things because you are a seasoned player or skilled and reliable. I’m trying to get us enough experience and credentials and goodwill that we can work when it’s just us and the music and we’re not popular.”

“How are things with the money I mean you took on Kate and Danny as clients isn’t that going to be hard?’

I shrug. “They’re going to do what they’re always been doing I’m just going to be able to steer hopefully more work their way and it’s not going to cost that much between us actually, we make money after they make enough to live on.”

“It seems like it’s more.”

“We’re an extra pair of hands really and some more ideas and angles.”

I smile and slice us some of the fresh bread now that it’s cool enough to handle but still warm and get out the jams and the peanut butter and we eat some really, really fresh bread.

“This is wonderful Angel, seriously this takes me back to my grandmother.”

“My mom liked to cook and it was a big deal for her to cook for the family and stuff. Me I got some of that and more as I’m here and living with the girls and the family thing is coming out more and more with all of us.”

“Did she teach you?”

“Not really just memories and stuff I’m self taught off of Saturdays and PBS cooking shows and food network. I like listening to it sometimes even if I’m not doing other things like writing songs.”

Darlene’s smiling as she’s digging into the heel of the loaf that I cut on and it’s slathered in peanut butter.

Yeah just about everyone likes the bread heels especially when they’re right fresh and out of the oven.

“You write songs?”

“A lot of the one’s for the band but so do the others. Kimmie actually wrote Magical Power Panties.”

“That’s a good cute song.”

I nod. “It’s getting good play especially online.”

Darlene nods. “So how’s that working?”

“Good it’s a new angle for Indie bands like us where we control our ads and marketing and all our merchandise. We’re not where we can tour and touring’s vastly changed too with the overhead and things. Plus there’s real life job stuff and school for the girls and myself when I go back. I want to try it though maybe at some point for our fans in other places.”

“Maybe something semi local?”

“I was thinking that, something like doing places in the province that we can drive to easily but after we have our commitments taken care of.”

“Oh?”

“We can’t play house band for places all the time. People will get sick of seeing us in one place all the time.”

“Makes sense, so you’re going to do what with that?”

“I was thinking of us repping other bands and part of the gigs that they can have would be some of our regulars. I want a music scene here in town like what’s going on but I don’t want it to go stale.”

Darlene nods. “I like the music scene here, or the thought of it. I can remember when there was live music and bands like are going on now.”

“We’ve been here it’s just waking up people to it and us to how to get up and running. It’s why we have advice and stuff on our web page.”

I take the biscuits out and the cornbread from the oven and set them to cool and the feather rolls go in next with the pan sitting in a bigger pan of water. I like them to do this steam bake thing that I seen on TV.

I take two chicken from the deep freezer to start thawing out in the sink.

I check the other bread dough that’s rising then get a coffee and Darlene a coffee and I make myself two slices of the bread I just cut on my notepad for writing and my acoustic that’s just my writing guitar.

Darlene just chills out as I write and play and sing and write.

It’s actually pretty cool as she reads the stuff I’ve written and she sings along with me and it’s both fun and bonding sort of but it lets me hear things in the harmonies for the vocals and the sheet music which once I get progress on I send to the girls with the music and vocals and the lyrics.

They’re really jazzed about it as well as the kitchen party and we text over what we might play there and by the time that’s done the feather rolls are out to cool and I put everything away and I use the new bread dough to make a loaf for home and the rest becomes Jenna’s cinnamon rolls.

Darlene helps smiling. “These look amazing, you girls eat pretty good.”

I laugh. “When I moved in I tossed bags and bags of frozen food boxes and cheap frozen pizza boxes out they were living from that and microwaved food.”

“So you’re the Mom.”

I grin at her. “I’m the Mom.”

When they’re done I adjust the oven racks and put the chickens in our biggest roaster and pour a liter of apple juice over them and toss in a sprig of rosemary a couple bay leaves and then because the chickens are still frozen salt and fresh ground black pepper on them because the cold lets it stick and I use a cooking app to figure out the roasting time per kilo from frozen and set the temp and the oven timer.

“I never use my timer, I should I mean it’s there for a reason. I just never used it past Home Ec in school.”

“You should, seriously if you can literally set it make it and leave it you don’t have to tie yourself to it.”

She gives me this grin and a headshake. “My grandmother would have adored you Angel.”

She looks at the chicken. “Looks good cooking ahead?”

“Yeppers, cold roast chicken for sandwiches and other things.”

“Other things?”

“Oh I’ll make soup off this too and the roasting juices will be bbq chicken sauce.”

“Oooooh with the herbs and the apple it’ll be good.”

“Well there’s two chickens and everyone’s working so it’s just a good idea.”

In my head this is sandwiches but they’ll be supper at the fair with sides and fixings back at the staff picnic area.

Darlene gets Janey up and cleaned up and we have another coffee and three hot cinnamon rolls each before we pack everything into the truck and we head back to the fair.

We’re just in time for me to get ready for our evening set and getting into our clothes and make-up and there’s a decent crowd here still for the show tonight and there’s a few of the not so bigger players here doing small sets and some of their own and covers and I watch as long as I can until we’re called up and we start playing.

We’re not headlining tonight but sort of three quarters the way through and we’re after Kisses & Thorns.

Summer and them do a good set with their usual stuff but a bit more thoughtful playing vibe like they know the crowd tonight is more the country and country rock crowd. I think Hannah had some insight and say there as she’s with them and playing.

They do stuff like. *Only when it rains* By Garbage, *Under the Bridge* By The Red Hot Chili Peppers and *Patience* and *Sweet child of mine* by Guns and Roses and The Songs that are theirs that are slower but theirs like *Sandcastles* and *Fidelity.*

People still liked it and yeah those songs are shared between Summer and Raine and when I looked at Raine she was smiling.

“You’re okay?”

“Yeah, it’s nice to hear them again. I’m good with it.”

We kiss and hold hands going up on stage and we trade looks as Summer’s holding Hannah’s hand as they’re getting clear and there’s a little sort of friendly nod between us.

Little steps.

We get ready and we open trying to further help the mood for the bands following after us with. *Carousel*, *Keep the faith*, *Never Enough* all by By Starlight Butterfly before we give them a little. *Sunshine* By Nazareth and
*I Love Rock and Roll* By Joan Jett and then *Billie Holiday* By Starlight Butterfly and we end our set with *Life is a carnival.* By The Band.

It’s a good song and it’s fun to play and right old school with a good bit of pick you up feel good and a touch of fun funk that’s really great to get folks out there moving and dancing a little and smiling.

That’s seven tunes and half are ours and we ended off with a happy note too as the other players are coming up and they’re more for the crowd here that’s a folk/country/country rock kind of crowd and I smile as I’m hearing them getting really well introduced and there’s applause and they’re a trio led band of two girls and a guy and he’s base singing just sort of back notes as the two girls get the crowd going by doing a cover of *Jolene* by Dolly Parton.

I really love that song and we stick around and stay for that song singing along with it and smiling all together as we sort of rib Brooklyn with it for being a redhead.

We stick to the band set up tent getting our make-up undone and getting changed. They have folding screens there because not everyone’s good with changing in front of others or in front of guys or girls. It’s a shared space considering the venue and it works pretty good.

A little close quarters sometimes but that’s actually sort of part of the charm.

And there’s the coolness of being backstage and seeing all that set up. Okay it might not be cool for others but all the wiring and the set up for the this kind of bigger venue and all the cool instrument too I love it and usually end up taking it all in.

Plus we get to hear the bands play and talk to some of them before and afterwards.

It feels nice to get dressed down again and I’m kind of going casual but like what’d be good for the fair. Band tee shirt and jeans and my boots. I have an Sawyer’s Funrides ball cap on and the girls are dressed pretty much the same except for Kimmie who has a dress on for a change and she looks cute with it being a spaghetti strap number in a pale yellow with flowers on it and hummingbirds, she actually is wearing white stockings to go with it and a nice pair of shoes to match all of it very cutely thrown off by her moogle toque she always wears.

All of us get our things stored and put away and meet up with the family to go to the party after everyone else is cleaned up like Dad and Max and Billie and Davey too and it’s kind of nice that Danny and kate are here too and a lot of folks and we’re trickling in altogether from different directions.

And there’s others doing the same, the park’s closing and the rides aren’t running and the lights are powering off and there’s this sort of really cool taboo feeling.

Kids, teens and even most people don’t get to be on fairgrounds after they close and getting invited to this BBQ and fish fry where it’s all players from around our county it’s.

It’s food and it’s music and it’s a jam session.

So we’re bringing food that I made and Kate brought from her side of things and we have some of our instruments with us to play.

They’re playing music as we get to the big tent we use to run things here and organise everything.

It’s a big tent one of those four peak types that they use for like when they have beer gardens and everything and walking in they have a plywood stage made up just about in the middle of one of the longer sides of the tent-rectangle and it’s about two feet high and pretty big for a lot of players to use at once and there’s a band up there playing something I’ve never heard but it’s kind of rockabilly sounding and there’s the big long folding tables set up with food on the other side and at the far end we can see BBQ’s and where they have folks cooking.

There’s this wonderful mixture of smells too from the grills and this smell of fresh frying fish and other foods all kind of pot luck and it’s a lot of the families of the players here that brought stuff in and I ask some of the ladies there where we can put our offerings and we end up spacing them out with bread loaves here and there with some of the other dishes and my cornbread and biscuits firmly in the realm of the slow cookers with all of the hot food like chili and baked beans and other things.

Dad’s in rare form actually more than just smiling but he’s rubbing his stomach like he’s warming it up and he’s not alone either. Okay they’re not doing what he’s doing but all of our guys are looking in that state of guy seeing feast thing going on.

I look at this really lovely older woman that’s there with me at the dessert table and she’s dropping off molasses cookies and a date, raisin & molasses cake that looks amazing. “I feed them I swear that I feed them.”

She laughs. “My late husband and all the men in my family were the same way.”

I extend my hand. “Angel Benton.”

“Callie Scott.”

We shake hands and turn to watch the people and the band.

“Who are you with?” I ask.

“No one, I’m just friends with a lot of the folks here. I used to be a dance teacher here in town and over the years it’s sort of the same crowd.”

“I’m with…”

“You’re with Starlight Butterfly, for a band of young rock girls you have some things that have surprised everyone. I like a lot of your songs and I don’t like a lot of modern music either.”

“You like this though?”

She smiles. “This isn’t what do they call it metal and grunge and hip hop? I’m not one for those or even pop music either but songs like Oncology and A Little Good are really good as well as the one for the fishermen you have too.”

I have to admit she’s lovely and her age only seems to have made that better? She’s shortish about five feet tall and thin with that dancer’s body too even now she has long legs and that elegant neck like a ballet dancer and her hair is white kissed with greys but she has it still long and it’s up in that loose pull up messy bun with the wooden hair pins holding it together. Blue eyes with glasses and a nice smile that just says age and experience and mystery. She just sort of has that grace y’know just so comfortable in herself that she still pulls you in at her age.

I hope I look as good when I’m old.

I head off after that saying. “I hope I see you again Callie.”

“You too Angel.” and she too moves off to talk to some people there and I move to head to where the others are and we start getting food and I’m just getting a few nibbles here and there while Rayne and I are mingling and talking to people that are there.

And it’s musical talk too so lots of shop talk and things that are going on with us and our site and with the chamber of commerce and with Sawyer’s Fun Rides too and my well; our hopes of getting more of all of this.

Then there’s dancing and it’s pretty cool that there are folks that really are cool with Rayne and I but Molly and Carmen and some of the others that are there as well there are folks that are out here and that says good things about tonight and about the scene here in general.

I’m still bad at dancing and I’m really bad at some of the more kind of country types of dancing that’s going on.

Thankfully there’s no square dancing or line dancing going on. I mean I’m not bagging on those styles of dancing. I’m just glad that we’re not doing that kind of stuff because I’m a spazzy dancer at the best of times and that stuff’s really coordinated you actually got to know what you’re doing.

It’s all a lot of fun and we’re laughing and having fun and the some of the best stuff.

We’re asked to join in.

Which is the dream for me.

Sitting on the stage on a folding chair just relaxed with everyone else and smiling as we’re all playing. Heck most of it’s just playing or singing along with things or playing back up. It’s jamming...like we do *Guitar town* By Steve Earle and in the song there’s lots of places where you can play and switch the guitar players around or even have like in our opening where we have three guitarists layering together.

And I like all sorts of music too so I like the whole vibe of this as we play along with some really good tunes. It’s a lot of following and playing by ear or even sharing sheet music for some of it.

*This one’s going to hurt you* By Marty Hill with Travis Tritt which has some just lovely harmony to it and then there’s getting to play with someone using the steel guitar which is just really lovely. I actually love the sound of that instrument and kind of want one and learn how to use it. And playing with a long slow soothing fiddle...and the feelings and the smiles and the camaraderie of it all.

*Don’t rock the jukebox.* By Alan Jackson which is a fun tune as much as I’m a rock artist it’s go this sort of upbeat semi-counter tempo to lyrics thing going on which works.

And it’s fun to dance to.

I really like playing music for people to dance to.

Some folks want to be the pop or rock stars that play to teeming crowds and all of that and it does definitely has it’s appeal but for me there’s just as much thing playing small gigs, making people smile and dance and be some happy night that you can afford instead of a sixty buck ticket and that’s if you can get one.

*Have you ever seen the rain.* By CCR that’s Creedence Clearwater Revival...and they’re a very much classic example of where the soul of country and folk meets harder rock.

God there’s a lot that gets played and sung to and danced to with us joining in or not as we take breaks and dance or eat.

The fish is amazing mostly all from the lakes and all fresh and it’s all seasoned by these old granddads and uncles manning the fryer pots and the grills.

And it’s stuff like beer batters or seasoned flour or like cracker meal or corn meal and it’s all just so fresh and crispy too and there’s all sort of stuff to go with it.

My fave that those guys made is this tartar sauce that has some mustard pickles in it instead of the regular and lemon zest, juice and of all things canned crushed pineapple and lots of black pepper.

Though there was some other things that stood out like trout that was seasoned with chili powder and onion power before breading and that worked so well since trout’s a heavier fish and I liked that trout better than most I ever tried.

And I dance some of the food off too and it gets later and later and we’re having more and more fun and one of the old fellows who’s sort of one of the guys putting this whole thing together starts at the mic.

“I’m gonna ask for the girls for Starlight Butterfly to come up here and play for us a little. Now these ladies are new to the players and I for one am glad that my grand daughter pointed them out to me and then I got to see them play a few times here already. They’re a helluva nice lot of girls here too. Those damned fine biscuits over by the chili pots and those way too delicious cinnamon rolls and a whole pile of bread and rolls came here from these girls too….let’s give them a hand.”

We take up the stage and our instrument and Kimmie is using the drums that are there and I step up to the mic and smile.

“We’re really happy to be here, it’s a serious honor to get invited to a shindig like this and get to play with people that’s been doing this a lot longer than we have….I hope you have fun.”

We start with something old school that grabs their attention and we open with *Bar room blitz.* By Sweet and they’re up and dancing because somewhere this is pretty much an anthem of sorts for those that play the pubs and bars and the Legion.

Then there *Some like it hot.* By John Cafferty, *Wilbury twist* By The Traveling Wilburys and then we play *Ordinary Day* By Great Big Sea and then… “Hey do you all want to hear a new song tonight I wrote!”

There’s cheers and I give the girls the nod and we start into the music setting this same sort of feel as that Great Big Sea kind of folk-rock and I start singing in that fast kind of rolling way too.

“Here’s Kitchen Party.”

*Kitchen Party* By Starlight Butterfly.

Oh….
The day’s been long.
The work’s been done.
So grab up your fiddle.
And pack up your drums.
Grab whatever’s handy and who you can…
It’s time for a KITCHEN PARTY!
HEY!

IT’S TIME FOR A KITCHEN PARTY! HEY!”

Hop in the truck.
And follow the noise.
The place’s hopping with girls and boys.
They’re tired of living and working too hard….

IT’S TIME FOR A KITCHEN PARTY! HEY!”

IT’S TIME FOR A KITCHEN PARTY! HEY!”

So grab a hand and have a dance!
Take a drink tonight won’t last!
We don’t get together that often………..
SO HAVE FUN AT OUR KITCHEN PARTY! HEY!

IT’S TIME FOR A KITCHEN PARTY! HEY!”

Turn around and docey-doe.
Spin your partner to and fro.
Dance and sing and forget what hurts!

WE’RE HAVING A KITCHEN PARTY! HEY!
WE’RE HAVING A KITCHEN PARTY! HEY!

IT’S TIME FOR A KITCHEN PARTY! HEY!”

COME ON TO OUR KITCHEN PARTY! HEY!

That has them up and dancing and people are whistling and stomping their feet and several of the older men there do that sort of rewind gesture.

I nod at them and ask. “AGAIN!”

They are cheering and yelling yes and I wave some of the players on there and one of the fiddlers is pulling an Ashley MacIsaac and stomping as he’s playing at the start of things and he’s getting some of the people listening stomping too. And there’s one of the folks players with a flute which actually fits in really well to it and there’s another person there a girl with a tam drum.

And we play it again.

That has them up dancing and we play and we play past midnight now and into the AM.



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