Sunday, July 10, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

Not every puppet show ends in death, but you can pretty much count on it with Huckiddy Puppets.

For my first night back, I couldn't have asked for a better way to jump back into things than with a show at Gallery 5. It was puppetry, it was music and it was three blocks from home.

A nice crowd was forming when I arrived and music was being DJ'd courtesy of Sara Gosett, which always guarantees stellar vintage pop. I won't even mention the adorable mod '60s dress she had on.

Among the gems she played were Nancy Sinatra, the Hollies and, my personal favorite, an Indonesian cover of "Dizzy."  Oh, yes she did.

Richmond's best flamenco guitarist Frankzig opened the show with three songs showcasing his flying fingers, evocative singing and rhythmic foot stomping. Even with not a drop of Spanish blood in me, I always love seeing him perform.

When the puppet show began, it was with a group of local talents for musical accompaniment. Ed Trask was on drums, Jessica Blanks on violin, Tom Brickman on bass and Chris Ramming on guitar.

The show, put on by the brother/sister team of Chris Milk Hulbert and Cat Spur Hulbert, was about, what else, a brother and sister.

Tonight's plot centered on the sister trying to find the brother, only to learn that he has run away to escape people.

But a Huckiddy puppet show is not your mother's puppet show. When she finds him hiding out, she demands to know where he's been.

"I bugged the f**k out," he admits.

"That's rude as shit," she admonishes him. "It sounds all hip, but it's really rude and hurtful." The puppet language may be updated, but the sibling sentiment is timeless.

And what mother would approve of a puppet of a male body part who keeps suggesting lewd things?

A long intermission followed the first act and then two members of Zac Hryciak and the Jungle Beat took the stage.

Zac, looking sharp in a Spinal Tap t-shirt, and Jessica, minus her violin, said they were going to play a bunch of new songs and then immediately qualified it by saying, "Oh, but we've actually played this one before."

It didn't matter. When you've got a voice as impressive as Zac's and backing vocals as pretty as Jessica's, it's all good, old or new.

The audience responded with great enthusiasm, making me wonder if some people might be hearing them for the first time.

After yet another intermission, Frankzig came back and the crowd welcomed him warmly, now knowing what to expect.

Finally, the feuding brother and sister's antics resumed.  Turns out that the reason Huckle, the brother, had escaped was because he was an agoraphobic hobo, a phrase which got used to great hilarity several times.

As things were winding down, sister F'funia explained family dynamics to her thick-headed brother.

"That's what families are about. You love each other until you can't stand it anymore. Then you go away.Then you come back and do it again."

That's wisdom out of the mouths of big-lipped puppets.

Despite sharing sibling wisdom, Huckle ends up dead after a loud bang because of fireworks. So all ends normally for a Huckiddy puppet show.

And for me, life returns to normal with an evening of music, humor, art and universal truths.

Absent ocean soundtrack aside, it's good to be back.

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