THE SOHO NEWS APRIL 22, 1981
MUSIC PICKS BY MICHAEL SHORE
SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA If you were REALLY thrilled by the space shuttle, you owe it to yourself to experience the real thing, in the locale where Ra's always at his most awesome. Squat Theater, Fri.-Sat. (Shore)
from Michael Shore via e-mail:
I thought we DID write you guys up every time Sun Ra played at Squat! :) To me, of course, there was no musical experience in the known universe to compare with Ra's, and as I did write time after time after time in my Soho Weekly News "Music Picks," there was no better place to experience him than Squat: a house band as big as the cosmos itself, in a house so cozy and unpretentious it felt like home? Or at least, like the house down the street where those cool new Balkan-rollin' neighbors always had a happenin' party with the MOST exquisite music...
So many fond, fun memories of those magical, wonderfully endless Nights Of Ra at Squat - the time there was a massive blizzard yet the house was at least half-filled for Ra, and half the band arrived an hour late for the first show and played as hypnotically as ever, while the rest of the band gradually straggled in through the snow...and not only did nobody in the audience leave, but I believe more people filtered in to experience the Intergalactic Cosmo Jet-Set traveling circus medicine show...Or the time it was SO packed one of Ra's dancers tripped over a slightly inebriated fan sitting on the floor in front of the stage, and Ra got furious and lectured the crowd about how he oughta pick up and leave right then and there - Giorgio Gomelsky yelled from the back "but Sun Ra, he loves you! we all love you!" Giorgio and others of us in the audience engaged Ra in an intense prolonged bout of debate and pleading - talk about "cosmo drama," it was pure white-knuckle theater (how appropriate!) and Ra did finally calm down and stay to finish the show...or the time late late late one night Ra was parading through the crowd as he always did, chanting "you gotta LEAVE this planet!" and he got to the bleachers in the back where I always sat and a guy was passed out on the 2nd bleacher level and Ra leaned right in his face and screamed "YOU GOTTA LEAVE THIS PLANET!" and the guy woke up and ran outta there terrified...one time the stage was switched from the back wall to the front, with the window onto 23rd Street behind the band - so if you looked hard, you could see passersby peering in - a very "Squat Theater" thing to do!...
...and of course hanging out with the men of the Arkestra between shows at the bar- or getting a drink during the show, usually from the indefatigable Klara, or sometimes even future-star Esther Balint, and exchanging knowing wide-eyed glances with them at the sheer wonder of Ra's unfolding Saturnian spectacles. Speaking of that bar...Ronnie Burrage, I still feel badly about that time I tripped down the bleachers and spilled my drink and yours on you...and that's the ONLY bad Squat memory I have! I know I've gone on and on here, but Squat - thank you for enriching my life more than I can say!