Black Fret Bedtime Stories: A Photo Essay

Words and Photos by Laura Roberts

Over the weekend, Ovrld got invited to a private Black Fret event at Arlyn Studios, featuring East Cameron Folkcore, Gina Chavez and Wild Child. Our photo essayist Laura Roberts attended and has provided some beautiful photos of the event with some suitably dreamy commentary. We hope you’ll enjoy her perspective on the evening and check out our micro-blog Plus Ones for the full photo set from the evening.

Black Fret

           “If you need your earplugs, put ‘em in. But we won’t be turning down.”

The face wears an Oliver Twist-like hat. His eyes are level with his mic stand, which stands at a humble level.

To his left is a white t-shirt giraffe of a gentleman. His body has a tendency to convulse like a paper cut-out figure in a parade, wind machine blowing it every-which-way.

Seven other figures are with the pair, all of them lodged onto a worn carpet at the foot of the recording studio room.

Chairs filled with watches and square glasses face them.

The square carpet rumbles, hesitates a moment and then erupts with the sound of an elephant.

The trombone has spoken.

The cello and black shirts and the white guitar join in.

The drumsticks and beards swordfight their way into the musical dance.

A mandolin picks.

Bow hairs brush against bow strings.

Audience ears—some with purple ear plugs in, some without—forget it’s words they’re supposed to be hearing for the opening of the number (as the school mistress of Top-40 radio has taught that this is the only way for a song to be a song) and get swarmed instead with the sound of a saxophone mingling with cello cries.

Black Fret

Two minutes into the sound garden, the vocals from the Oliver Twist begin:

            Been bankrupt since twenty-three
I got my references I got my degree

The cabby hat’s voice is a dead-ringer for The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon and quickly covers the 70’s color-shaded room. The vocals are drenched in various shades themselves, pain of one sort or another.

            I come from the generation
Was fed the lies of a higher education
As meaning something more than debt and decay
All that money and now there’s no pay 

Black Fret East Cameron Folkcore

The white shirt is kneeling, convulsing near the ground now. Beards and foreheads glisten against the drab coloring of the carpet.

            Sallie-Mae, Sallie-Mae
Why do you treat me this way?
Call me fifty times a day
Well I ain’t got your money honey

“Sallie Mae” screams ravage from all over the carpet.

Screams from the Oliver Twist mouth.

Screams from the six-strings and their friends the brass instruments.

Screams from the speakers that pour out into the low-ceiling room and into the ears of the wristwatches in their chairs.

Whether they’ve got purple ear plugs in or not.

The group on the carpet stops on a dime a few chords later.

“Thank you,” says Oliver Twist, to no one and everyone in particular. “For lending your ears.”

Black Fret

another band is on the woven carpet now.

the lead singer, she smiles as she breathes, and wears Peter Pan wairpaint and a nightgown-like dress. her lost boys are behind her, instruments in hand, waiting for her command.

to her right stands another male figure, with boyish hair and blue face streaks of his own. a pixie-haired tinker-belle is in the far left of the carpet space, bow against a cello-stringed instrument missing its bottom half.

it’s the last song from the band.

it’s the last band of the night.

Black Fret

“we’d like to invite a special guest to join us,” says the smiling wendy creature with no shoes.

from the audience, a small figure with fair skin and sky streaks on her no-older-than-eight-year-old cheeks rises. her sparkly tom shoes walk up to the carpet and face wendy.

the boyish head of hair and his guitar begin strumming a few simple chords and words began to fade through the air:

“sleep good and hold tight…” the voices sing to each other, the little girl taking the lead on vocals and the audience.

“…just know that i’ll make it right.”

wendy holds the mic, grinning harder as her voice dances with the fair-skinned child’s steady words.

“sleep good and hold tight…”

the voices grow stronger as their grins grow upwards, fading out the room.

“…just know that i’ll make it right.”

the late-night wristwatches lean out from their chairs to catch the evening’s last words from the nightgown.

and the peter pan figure.

and the newest member of the lost boys club.

Black Fret

two rows back, sits the father of the newest member.

his hands bent and eyes moist.

as she sings on.

“sleep good and hold tight…just know that I’ll make it right.”