Welcome To TripShakespeare.net
Hello everyone. So, a year ago or so, we lost Morgan and I wrote a note expressing uncertainty about things. It was an uncertain time. Now someone has offered to take up the challenge of being Trip Shakespeare dot Net’s caretaker and guide. Gratitude.
I told our new webmaster that it has seemed to me that many of the most passionate fans have some initiation story about the band. Some baptism in the music, where they find that they can no longer escape the spell that the band cast and they are officially lifers. Many times, in the past at least, this would have happened at some show where they saw the band preening and thundering forth. It was this way with Morgan, and so it seems it is also with Paul. I suggested that Paul share the moment that cemented his fandom and has now led to his taking over the site.
Take it away Paul.
“GREETINGS, TRUE SHAKESPEARIENCERS…” So said the late, great “Webmaster of Brainerd,” Morgan Taylor. Since Morgan’s tragic passing, I offered to lend my skills and help keep TripShakespeare.net alive and thriving. Emails were dispatched over the InterWebs…. Lo and behold, I have been deemed worthy to carry the torch and continue maintaining this glorious website with the love, care, and attention that Morgan brought to it from its formation to today. Please check out Morgan’s amazing work here: https://gustaferyellowgold.com
(Paul, circa 1990, with Trip Shakespeare t-shirt)
My name is Paul Humphrey (Aries, Year of the Rat), and I have been a Trip Shakespeare fan since I heard “The Lake,” “Spirit,” and the incredible songs from the Are You Shakespearienced? album back in the late 80’s. I grew up in Fargo, ND, so I was deep in the heart of Trip’s stomping grounds. I was lucky enough to witness several gigs, albeit all-ages shows (thank goodness for those First Avenue all-ages shows!), at various college auditoriums and Minneapolis area venues. They always delivered, as the live audio and video on the site attest to. I have unearthed a few more shows and will be adding them to the site in the coming weeks and months.
The first gig I will be loading up is one I was in the front row for, October 20, 1990, at a small Minnesota University that I attended while studying English Literature, Theater, and Film. The other gig referred to, from Gustavus Adolphus College, featuring a similar setlist, was previously uploaded but was a big one for me and plays into the story below. As the new “Webmaster of Brainerd (from Fargo),” I offer you these tales of my first Trip Shakespeare shows…. Please feel free to send your comments and contribute to the forum here: https://tripshakespeare.net/forum
[Keep it clean people!!] BUT, ENJOY!
October 20, 1990… It was a cold night, naturally, since this was Moorhead, Minnesota, the beating heart of the frozen north, home to sugar beets, wheat fields, Viking descendants, strikingly bland Norwegian foods, and on this night, shivering college kids, hungry for wisdom and light in the darkness. Moorhead State University, in Moorhead, MN (just across the “Red River of the North” from Fargo, ND) had been rocked the year before by the mighty force known as Trip Shakespeare.
Alas, your narrator was not yet in college and had missed the 1989 performance, of which bootlegs were circulating. I played guitar in some local bands and through the musical grapevine was able to secure a copy of the 1989 MSU show. Whoa. What a beast! The songs, the vocals, the exquisite bass work of John, the dual guitar frenzy from brothers Matt and Dan, Elaine’s infectious, perfect grooves on the standing drum kit…. I listened to it endlessly, the capstans on my tape decks begging for mercy. My friends and I were then captivated by Trip’s albums…. 1988’s Are You Shakespearienced? filled our imagined warehouse with the sound of coiling “Vines,” impeding our work involving “two wheelers” and “four wheelers.” 1990’s Across The Universe followed, as our technology leapt forward to Compact Discs. Lasers arced across “Turtledove” and “The Nail” to our ears’ delights. And then back to find the gems hidden in 1986’s Applehead Man spinning out on cassette, warning with the menacing “Fangs” and how Rose’s childbearing would “rip your pretty looks.” The band, the records, and the songs described an ominous time, filled with mystery through their enigmatic creativity.
About a week prior to the show…
A good friend was attending college at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, and saw that Trip was playing at Gustavus Adolphus College. We made the trek to the sleepy college town of St. Peter, MN, and scoped out the scene. The gear was on the stage, Elaine was outside the college gymnasium auditorium in the hallway passing by me in her glorious, glittering attire. Being too timid and a bit awe-inspired to say “hi,” I let her pass by and we instead went up to the front of the stage to wait for the show to begin. The college crowd sauntered in, the frat boys were pushing, crushing us in the front row. Matt and the mighty SG guitar emerged to literally rock the house. Somehow, Matt Wilson always managed to remain upright whilst performing an almost Iggy Pop-ish backward fold towards the floor, all while welding the diabolical Gibson machine. Sweat poured, silk shirts were soaked, and the show thundered to a raucous conclusion. I knew, simply, that I must see this band again, and tooth sweet.
About a week later…
The Comstock Memorial Union Ballroom at Moorhead State University was packed to the gills. Myself and a few Fargo area friends were huddled in the front row, controlling both our excitement and our bladders, gleeful with anticipation for the show to come. Having been thoroughly rocked at Gustavus Adolphus the week prior, I knew the juggernaut that was about to emerge to blow my pal’s uninitiated minds. The band stepped from the wings, strapped on their guitars, and I braced for the onslaught. Instead fretless bass and three-part harmonies hushed us into reverential bliss and a golden bird came alive as we stood transfixed, bewitched beneath the “Honey Tree,” conjured forth in the lyric from Across The Universe.
Next, Dan’s voice rang forth with the opening lines to his “Turtledove.” “I come back to town today!” ushering in a groove that reminded all of us that we were safe and warm in the bosom of Rock and Roll. Several new songs punctuated this show…. “Graveyard” with John’s haunting vocal and Dan’s whammy bar eeriness… “Checkout Girl” featured a fast country feel, Elaine’s brushy beat, and Matt’s sweet wit…. “Day Off Tomorrow” reminded us of the inevitable post-show “reality” of earning a living, just as Dan had mentioned playing at Kirby’s (a local Moorhead bar, a haven for college kids, pitchers of beer, marketing of cured meats, and local rock) in prior years (my own band, The Lemmings, would play Kirby’s a few times in the years to come, our career culminating with an opening slot for Trip Shakespeare at 1993’s “Cornstock” musical festival at Moorhead’s Concordia College, home of “The Cobbers”).
(Paul on the left at the 1993 gig…)
The show rambled on…. Late in the set “The Slacks” were argued over, and the lament of “Reception” was shared with Matt’s inspired “rap” during the mid-section featuring a rhyme from yours truly (the word “juice”). At the show’s finish, we clapped and roared for Trip to return, perhaps bringing us some news of the Toolmaster. Instead, we were once again hushed into silence listening with love to the beautiful strains of the new song, “If You Miss Me.” With that, the epic show came to a close. Tempered by the band’s flights and fire, we had become Shakespearienced.
Thus I remain and here I am.
(Paul, circa 1990, swinging down to the world hanging down on a string…)