The Critical Mass

Regan, Deming and Piper: The Spring Chickens. Photo by Sue Rogers.

The World Doesn’t Owe You Anything

With decisions come consequences.

That was the theme running through my head while lying awake in bed at 3 a.m. Wednesday. The gray-matter residue from a couple of Tuesday night’s entertainments.

It started at The Little theater with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. A murder mystery that doesn’t give you what you’re looking for: A solution. Instead, the story of a woman who rents three billboards outside of town and uses them to ask why the rape and murder of her daughter hasn’t been solved offers brilliant acting by Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. Their characters are complex, their motivations not always honorable, the story they are caught up in is multi-layered. The rape and murder is the tragedy that sets off a series of decisions made by these characters, decisions that lead to a Rubix’s Cube of unexpected consequences.

We drifted from the theater into The Little Café, where The Spring Chickens were playing. An acoustic trio of Connie Deming, Steve Piper and Scott Regan, whose show Open Tunings airs every weekday morning on WRUR-FM (88.5). Regan and Piper also play in Watkins & the Rapiers, currently holding down a Monday-night residency at The Little. That band is notable for its frequently irreverent and sardonic songwriting. But with The Spring Chickens, Piper and Regan present their music with a slightly more serious tone, even if the between-song banter between the three remains charming and funny.

But something’s weighing on The Spring Chickens, and heavily. Piper – a wry, amusing fellow – spoke of the mood of anger and depression that has settled over the country, particularly in these last few days, as the news grows increasingly alarming. Deming sang a song she wrote this summer, “How Did We Get Here?” It’s a dark one, about deception in a relationship, but one verse makes reference to “the liar in the White House.”

And Regan, too. He generally limits his social and political observations to an insightful line or two, then moves on. But Tuesday night, you could see that his dismay in what we’re witnessing, what we’re living through right now, is something he can no longer contain. He struggled to find the right words, then found them: How sad it is, “Watching our country get taken apart.” By the hands of Trump, whose malignant narcissism and obsession with enriching himself are leading to decisions with damning consequences for us all.

And then Regan played his song, “The World Doesn’t Owe You Anything.”

The Spring Chickens. Speaking truth to power.

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