See, there's this kid, Dan, whose family farm is destroyed by a tornado. The family moves to the city, where Mom and Dad get jobs at a convenience store and Dan, who is terribly depressed, stops doing household chores and starts going to raves, where he falls in with a crowd of fartfaces. One of these raves is struck by a meteor, which kills everybody except Dan, who awakes to find himself drifting thru a dream world of confectionery yum yums.
The candy-colored dream ends and Dan plops out of the sky to land on a raft in the middle of the ocean, where he is rescued by MacAlaster the Pirate, who then ties Dan's nose piercings to Dan's gonad piercings and then makes him walk the plank.
Floating in the ocean, surrounded by sharks, Dan has an epiphany of some sort and swims to a deserted island, where he finds a guitar, recovers his dignity and lives out the rest of his days, drunk on coconut wine.
In late 1999, I picked up a used BOSS 8-track recorder thing and never again looked at my old cassette 4-track. As the Wingnuts were fading out, I sat in my bedroom at the Circle A Ranch and recorded the basic tracks for a pirate opera that had grown out of the Surf Opera, a collection of songs about death and resurrection.
I consider MacAlaster to be the final Mr. Tree and the Wingnuts album. It features jazzy interludes played by Mr. Tree and Shawn Fourron as well as banjo and fiddle contributions from Matt Shupe. And Shawn plays drums on several tracks. It also featured a twenty-page libretto as illustrated by Lucas Richards, the official artist of Mr. Tree and the Wingnuts. The promo poster declaimed: Featuring Members of Devotchka, Marty Jones and The Pork Boilin' Po' Boys, and Mr. Tree and the Wingnuts.
To promote the album, Lucas and I mailed out copies of the CD to two dozen friends around the country, along with self-addressed-stamped envelopes and a note that explained that, while we had no ambitions for making money, we would gladly accept donations. I think we pulled in twenty three dollars and one handwritten letter in Russian.
But, as with all things STD, money, fame, and recognition were secondary to the oddness of the music. MacAlaster, especially in the 2013 remastered version, is a classic example of psychedelic pirate freakbeat extended narrative rock and roll. Primary influences: The Small Faces, The Pretty Things, The Who, and a hatred of what dance music which was born from sharing the work space at the Twist and Shout record annex with a narcissistic asshole of a DJ from Denver's Snake Pit and the shoplifting jackasses who worshiped him. Those little bastards, always asking to borrow the phone so they could answer their stupid little pagers.
Anyway, the world clearly needed a Pirate Rock Opera to set things straight. Rock and Roll was king and dance music would never go anywhere. I think it worked out pretty well.
Oh, and that's my mom singing at the end of Shoreline.
released June 1, 2002
Artwork by Lucas Richards. Drums and trumpet by Shawn Gilbert. Doghouse bass by Mr. Tree. Fiddle by Matt Shupe.
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