In the Cameron House on Queen Street in Toronto, there’s a sign on the wall that says, “THIS IS PARADISE.” Corin Raymond & The Sundowners have played in the front room of the Cameron House every Thursday night, 6-8pm, for fourteen years. Ten years ago- when Queen Street wasn’t so shiny and old guys held the barstools down during the day- right before the last song the bartender would shout "Last call for day prices!"

In Corin’s song ‘There Will Always Be A Small Time’ he wraps it into a line: “It’s last call for day prices. The sign says ‘THIS IS PARADISE,’ and that’s exactly where we are.”

Last January, a few weeks into our Shake Sugaree Americana residency at The Kraken, Phil White brought in a Carolina blue sign with black letters that said “THIS IS PARADISE.” It’s almost impossible to take a picture of someone on the stage without that sign being in it. Soon those words were all over the internet along with the ubiquitous pirate flags of our favorite roadhouse.

Then I brought a neighbor on stage who had written an extra verse for Chicken Wire- a song narrated by a misogynist rooster- and his verse arguably made the tale even darker. When other men started telling me that they also had written new verses for Chicken Wire, I said “we need some women to write verses.” The result was a beautiful Kitty Wells-ian epic of contention and dissension. We did the version to end all versions with about twelve people on stage at our album release show, and then retired the chicken choir at least for the time being. Someone brought in a rubber chicken for our singalongs, and it’s still hanging on the wall next to me on stage.

        Phil brought in another gift, a chair that was covered with guitar picks and references to our show. Some scalawag absconded with it. We do have photographic evidence of its existence.

        Ella Bertram brought in her first place trophy from the White Cross tractor pull and refused to take it back. “I’ve got lots of them,” she said. We bring it with us on the road. (By the way! You can listen to Ella’s music here: https://ellabertram.bandcamp.com  

        Some nights, The Kraken is so packed that the parking lot spills out and down the country roads. When the highway patrol showed up and started ticketing and towing cars, we began announcing that everyone had to be parked all the way off of the white line that ran along the side of the road. Even if your rearview mirror was sticking out over the line, you could be ticketed. I wasn’t sure how they could verify that scientifically, except perhaps with a builders tool called a plumb bob. Phil got a metal hoop, some fishing string, and a rubber kraken. Voila. The Official Kraken Plumb Bob was born. Now anyone can pit Newtonian physics against the lawman’s eyeball.

        The other problem with parking down the country roads, especially once everyone really had to park all the way off of the pavement, was getting stuck in the mud on a rainy night. People would panic when they saw a tow truck, thinking the highway patrol was at it again. After one too many times, superfan Sarah Shapiro brought in a big beautiful yellow tow strap, signed in black marker “To Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboys from your fan-ily at The Kraken”. If you get stuck, there’s a country gal with a big pickup ready to solve this problem in-house. (Or a guy! I don’t want to be sexist here.)

        It’s hard to say I have a favorite, but this latest gift really got me. Maybe it’s because I love to know my place in this big universe. I love being able to drive to someone’s house in Austin Texas from my house in North Carolina without looking at a map. I love taking locals to a towering sequoia they’ve driven by for years and never noticed. I love looking up on a cold clear night at the calendar/clock/map, the Swiss army knife of the heavens.

        The gift is a bracelet made of string with a little white plastic tablet inscribed in black:

35.9241 °N

79.1760 °W

        It’s the big red X on the treasure map. If you ever want to find Paradise on a Wednesday night between 7 and 10pm EST, whip out your sextant, or type those numbers into your favorite navigation app.

        If you’re landlocked, we might bring Paradise to you some night. The coordinates will be different, but like a ghost ship on the high C, you’ll appear out of the mist in a little roadhouse outside Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Be sure you’re anchored all the way off the white line. Find your coordinates below and pass them on to the quartermaster. Your fan,

JByrd

****************

 

Every Wednesday night!
The Kraken
Chapel Hill, NC

Feb 14 Thu
Muddy Creek Cafe And Music Hall
Bethania, NC

Feb 22-23 Fri & Sat
Wintergrass Music Festival
Bellevue, WA

Mar 14 Thu
Muddy Creek Cafe And Music Hall
Bethania, NC, United States

Mar 15 Fri
The Cary Theater
Cary, NC

Mar 28 Thu
Red Dragon Listening Room
Baton Rouge, LA

Mar 29 Fri
Fort Worth Live
Fort Worth, TX

Mar 30 Sat
Fayetteville Public Library
Fayetteville, AR

Apr 2 Tues
The 5 Spot
Nashville TN

Apr 4 Thu
Museum of Commerce
Pensacola, FL

Apr 5 Fri
McGonigels’ Mucky Duck
Houston, TX

Apr 6 Sat
Sycamore Creek Concerts
Dripping Springs, TX

Apr 11 Thurs
Muddy Creek Music Hall
Winston-Salem, NC

Apr 25 Thurs
The Aquarium
Fargo, ND

Apr 26 Fri
West End Cultural Centre
Winnipeg, MB

Apr 27 Sat
The Warming House
Minneapolis, MN

May 9 Thurs
Muddy Creek Music Hall
Winston-Salem, NC

May 11 Sat
Tobias Music
Downers Grove, IL

May 16 Thu
Caffe Lena
Saratoga Springs, NY

May 19 Sun
Askew Prov
Providence, RI

May 21 Tues
Rockwood Music Hall
New York, NY

May 23 Thurs
Cafe Nine
New Haven, CT

May 24 Fri
Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
Morristown, NJ

May 26 Sun
Island Pride
Gaithersburg, MD

Jun 13 Thurs
Muddy Creek Music Hall
Winston-Salem, NC

June 29 Sat
Songs From the Wood
Deep Gap, NC

Jul 11 Thurs
The Park Center
Hayward, WI

July 12 Fri
Rhythm of the River Music Festival
Jackson, MN

IMAGE.JPG

Comment