Passing Through Minnesoda and other altered states by Thomas Edward Shaw is a creative record of the author’s life after returning to the United States in the wake of reinventing rock and roll to little notice in the same Hamburg clubs the Beatles sold their souls for rock and roll in playing Bass with an act called the Monks. Dressed to look the part in every particular, possibly the first band to make art from feedback, the Monks set the stage for post-punk before there was punk but were too far ahead of the pack to make any headlines for a few decades post-disbandment. Eddie Shaw didn’t have any time to waste and kept at it, with a series of bands, including one called the Hydraulic Pigeons.
Unwilling to remove the creative license natural to human memory, in this memoir of life after the Monks, Shaw has crafted a ‘rock and roll, jazz and funk musician’s odyssey stretching all the way from the late 1950s to the early 21st century’ (The words in single quotes surrounding these are lifted from Carson Street Publishing’s website, where you can purchase your copy. Shaw appeared recently on my podcast, but this book was already in production, otherwise I dare say there’s a chance we might’ve been mentioned, such was the lyric boom effected by the acquaintance of one fantastic biographer with another in this instance) “recounting the right of passage—obsession, success and failure—struggling against barriers that keep many artists from arriving at their destination. On his journey, he becomes the alienated hero, the punk-rock bass guitar player, the Miles Davis-influenced jazz trumpeter, the soaring rock and roll pigeon.”
When he appeared on the cast, Eddie was wearing a T-shirt reading “I always knew I wanted to be a monk when I grew up, but I could never memorize the chants” and I hadn’t read what it said, so when he pronounced the same slogan aloud, I didn’t get the reference. “But you invented your own!” I responded. “Was the Monks the first band to find a new art form in feedback?”
“The feedback found us!” Shaw responded, and I think I said that was a great answer, but don’t remember for sure. Find out here.
Later in the same cast, he said something about his time in the Monks enduring the same grueling all-night shifts the Beatles had only playing their own thus-far-unheard sound influenced by the reality of being aliens adrift having been good for him, which is what this hefty tome commemorates.
“Yea, your hair grew back!” I said, but he didn’t get my bad joke either. Should’ve worn a T shirt, maybe.
The other day a friend of mine leading a group I was in asked “Does everyone know what I mean by integrate?” I’d missed the first part of her sentence, didn’t want to get lost in the lesson she was sharing that day and said, “Do you mean incorporating embodying alignment and interdimensional perception into our daily lives?”
“That’s exactly what I mean. People, if you ever need a fancy-sounding way of explaining something, Zack will help you.”
Fancy sounding? Wait a minute. “I like to keep it simple, but I usually feel like I’m over-complicating things when I talk to you, but I’m glad it’s helping.”
“Well, that’s your style, right?”
I hoped she meant keeping it simple. “Yes.”
But as the new James Joyce (per Eddie’s verdict, though I’ve yet to read Ulysses), who can’t keep his own life out of everyone else’s, my iconoclastic advice, in this case, is read this book before or after this one, which came first, and listen to this band before or after this one, which is a different sound entirely. Get it all in the order preferred.
‘Even as a boy, Thomas “Eddie” Shaw knew what he would do when he grew up. At the end of each night, after playing to customers in the barroom Eddie’s role model, Jackson, got up from the piano stool, emptied the ashtrays, cleaned the bar, swept and mopped the floor, and then made his bed on the pool table. It was the perfect life of the jazz musician, and Eddie wanted this life for himself.’
Thanks, Eddie. I’m on the same journey, and it’s gonna be a great year.