On a Foggy Night ...
By Jeff Bollier
2005.12.05 -- It's cold. People stay home cold. The streets are quiet. Winter's grip is solid. It's a solitary walk to Peabody's and I have to say I like it. I hear echoes of the music even before I cross the street and head in the back door. (I can't help but remember Melissa's missive: always go in the back door.) Inside is cookin'. The somehow steady chatter of a dozen conversations gives way to the music. The esprit de corps runs high in the crowd and the Jazz Orgy rarely disappoints. Tonight is no exception.
The crowd is a little thin, but I remember the bitter elements that seemed to sap all energy right out of me. It takes true grit to make it out on a night like this, but luckily a little insanity pulses through Oshkosh. A city like this calls out to a certain breed of people who like a little down and dirty action now and again, who aren't afraid to get their hands a little dirty.
The band doesn't disappoint. Cooper's back in the saddle. Underwood's ready as always. Mertens has brought the real stand-up bass. Stevens confidently sits in for Martin. And the night burns on. Release comes musically and spreads to conversation, to smiles. To friends. It could be 30 degrees south of 0 and we'd never notice. Match has been set to gasoline and the rest is inevitable.
Only in Oshkosh. It's not the same in Neenah. Nor Appleton. The same sense of abandon and release doesn't come. It's not an experience. There's no interaction. Crowd and music do not fuse into the fluid pulse that swallows opposition and drives passion to excess. In this moment, we have something more powerful than Appleton's money and attention, something that cannot be purchased, only achieved. This is Oshkosh. This is life. Live at your own risk.