Saturday, December 5, 2015

Fruit Bats on Humbug Mountain

Eric D Johnson at Marmoset Day Party, MFNW (RIP), 2013
Fruit Bats is the long-time project of Portland-based singer-songwriter Eric D. Johnson, who gave me one of his beers at the Marmoset day party at MFNW (RIP) 2013. After taking a brief hiatus, Fruit Bats are back - they just played a show at The Earl in September - and have a new release coming out in early 2016.  Here's Johnson performing one of the new pieces, Humbug Mountain Song, during an acoustic set for KEXP at Pickathon.

Now, you might think that Humbug Mountain is a metaphorical expression, but if so you'd be surprised to know that it's an actual State Park along the southern Oregon coast.  At 1,761 feet, Humbug Mountain is one of the highest mountains in Oregon to rise directly from the ocean, and is located about 65 miles southwest of Roseburg, Oregon, where on October 1, a gunman shot and killed an assistant professor and eight fellow students at Umpqua Community College, and injured seven to nine others.

The tragedy at Umpqua was the the 296th mass shooting in the United States of 2015, and even though it was only a little over 60 days ago, there were 57 more shootings since then, most recently the shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility and a San Bernardino rampage at a holiday party in a center for the developmentally challenged.

To be sure, Johnson's song is not about these issues, but sadly, with 353 mass shootings in the US this year alone, it's hard to write a song about any geographic place in America and not have it be within 100 miles of a 2015 mass shooting,    And it's hard to hear the term "humbug" without thinking of the nonsense and gibberish coming from the NRA in reaction to all of these shootings.

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