FROM THE STREET (Fun with Alchemy)

Perhaps borrowing a few ideas from his kid, Joran conducted his new and temporarily named project, Tarantella, with the enthusiasm and experimental ear of a child. He held up flash cards containing musical hieroglyphs, like something resembling an ice cube, and gestured excitedly to his band. When the mood struck him, he made a balloon squeal into the mic or added reverberating lyrics that could have been plucked from Jim Morrison's notebook.

Katherine Kelly wasn't as used to playing for kids. She had to amend a few of her F-bombs mid-sentence during her hyperbolic and electrified folk rock.

"I want to thank you guys for dancing to that last song," Kelly told the kids occupying the dance floor.

"What? Oh. You just want the balloon. OK, here, but I wouldn't put that in your mouth. You know who blew on that before you? Joran. Yeah."

"I teach drumming at elementary schools and jails," said Steve Turner of Giving Tree Rhythms, after he set up more than 30 drums for a lesson on drum circles. Realizing Turner had probably dealt with worse pupils than me, my fears subsided, and I became the first adult to join the kids who sat beating on their drums to Turner's commands. I had the idea that I could at least outshine these miniature drunks. I was wrong. They were more versed in banging on things than I was. Since I couldn't best them in skill, I reverted to my usual strategy when engaging in something I have little natural talent for (like baseball or boxing), I just pounded the leather as hard as possible.

Having met my physical exertion requirements for the weekend, I sat back and enjoyed the remains of the afternoon as the gods of Alchemy intended it: having an empty cup repeatedly filled with golden beer, devouring food made golden and delicious with breading and fryer grease, and listening to music that erased any worries of the week to come. Acho Brother once again fit the bill, playing tunes with as much speed and pep as Spanish is meant to be spoken. The only thing that could've made the afternoon better was if the aquatic-themed Skipper's was actually on the water, and perhaps another round of cupcakes.

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"After the drum circle, everybody head to the back for cupcakes," Joran yelled from the stage Sunday at Skipper's Smokehouse. [ed. Joran Oppelt is the marketing and promotions director for Creative Loafing]

He wasn't joking, nor was he stoned and yelling to a bunch of munchy-hungry hippies. He was addressing the kids and parents at Alchemy Fest 3, an amplified birthday bash for Joran's daughter, Alchemy. Although the fest was child-friendly, it wasn't that different from a 21-and-up show. Well, aside from the coloring stations, the diaper changing booth, the mattress for midday naps, the cardboard box built in the shape of a VW van for participants to paint and barefoot girls with black soles chasing bubbles, balloons and boys.


So maybe it was very different from an adult concert, but adult shows could learn a thing or two from a kid-themed concert, i.e. complimentary juice boxes and cardboard party hats. And to be honest, kids aren't that much different from drunks — slurring, slobbering, wearing mischievous grins and ready to laugh or cry at any moment. One little girl stumbled into me as she danced wildly, then pulled me onto the dance floor before even asking my name.

Another babbled to me, "What you doing here? You live up there. The sky."

To which my only response was, "Yeah, sure, guy."

One huge benefit of children over drunks is there is no danger of them beating you up for being a smart ass, and you can pick them up and tickle them if they get out of hand.

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