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On May 30th an incredible event will take place in downtown Florence at the VFW, Llama Lasagne will “Return To The Wild Kingdom” to fundraise for Dakin Humane Society with their wackey knack for causing a ruckus and raising the roof with goodtimes, good friends, and great music.

Llama Lasagne will have an annual performance to raise money and awareness for Dakin Humane Society. The theme of the evening will be LLAMA LASAGNE Returns To The Wild Kingdom. Participants are asked to get in touch with there inner animal and come dressed in the proper costume to express themselves.

There have been over 20 odd Llama Lasagne Performances since November 20th 2004, raising money and awareness for 7 charities including Toys For Tots

and Big Brothers Big Sisters Llama Lasagne, an ever evolving circus of local musicians, artists, and businesses.

Llama Lasagne is somewhat of a super group gleaning talent from many places around the valley. This Llama will include members from:

The Alchemystics • Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra • Eric Olsson Band • The Primate Fiasco • The Mary Jane Jones • Brotherhood Of Thieves • Rusty Belle • LuxDeluxe • Jamie Kent &The Options • Shiprock & Anchordog • Carrie Ferguson • Lord Russ • Flabberghaster • Wolfman Conspiracy • Stormteam • L.A.Looks • Rhythm Inc. • Fat Bradley • Outer Stylie

Now that’s a boat load of talent!

To say that Llama Lasagne has come a long way is an understatement. What started out as a cancelled gig, turned into a wild contagion that excites its members and audience participants to raise the bar for having a good time…see they have an effing great time, and you will be rendered helpless to the energy that comes with this special brand of entertainment and citizenship. Llamas are on a mission to reach new heights. They are hardly the wild bunch of seemingly endless “Green House” musicians. Now they are sound engineers, producers, artists, teachers, parents, and most definitely very seasoned professional musicians.

There is not one part of the Llama Lasagne events that isn’t put together by this extraordinary ever changing and growing group, currently at over 100 members.

They orchestrate the scores, put together the pageantry, build the stage, hang the lights, pick the venue, publicize the event and deliver a tiny slice of entertainment heaven that will certainly enrich your world. Who doesn’t like a costume party without all the pressure of Halloween?

I thought it would be best for some Llamas to share their thoughts with you in a Q & A format. They have a big job ahead (major labor of love) and for the first time the Llama that has now matured into a well organized sophisticated production company is opening their audience for the first time to a 16+ crowd. All you baby Llamas out there are about to have an invitation to reach beyond what rigid confines you may be subject to and truly get your yah yah’s out! None too old (trust me!) or too young (well at least 16, eesh! I got a teenager, we may have to have a dance off) to get in touch with the true Llama Lasagne nature. It is indeed hilarious!

Here they are a very core group of seeming workaholics, that have put months of work and thought into this project. To be strait I do not know how they keep everything in order. Jay Metcalf and James Todd seem to be amongst the most invested to the great history of Llama Lasagne, the story of which they will now tell. Hugh Currier and his production team, which also includes James and his stage building skills, is a rock in the storm he creates the atmosphere for with artistic director Emmalyn Hicks. And come on, Dan Thomas, who is literally the nicest guy you will ever meet somehow gives every Llama that wants to play a part, and is actually brilliant enough to pick apart the chosen songs to be covered and orchestrate and conduct the entire evenings score and all its musical layers.

Llama Lasagne strives to encourage collaboration and cross promotion among Pioneer Valley artists via biannual theme-based stage performances with a charitable goal.

They draw on the abundance of top notch local talent culled from multiple genres, generations, and scenes, creating a unique experience with each show.

Patrons are highly encouraged to attend in costume, and each performance is laden with hilarious antics, contests and prizes.  Audience involvement is at the heart of Llama Lasagne.

You never know what might transpire at a Llama Lasagne event, but it has been proven time and time again that you’ll be hearing about it for weeks, even years, after!

Don’t be shy, just get there!

What Bands/Projects are you involved with now or in the past?

JAMES TODD: Solo project=THIS (the project is titled “THIS”…although I haven’t worked on it in a while)

JAY METCALF: The Alchemystics/ Current Band

DAN THOMAS: The Mary Jane Jones, Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra, Krewe les Gras/ Current Bands Rudy Brown/ Past Band

HUGH CURRIER: Past Bands Rusty Flintcock and the Petal Pushers, Blue Star Burns Red

Can you describe the Llama phenomena?

JAY METCALF:  That’s like rhyming orange but you actually rhymed phenomena, awesome!

DAN THOMAS: What started as a few guys making up for a cancelled gig by playing a bunch of songs they’d never played before or would never get to play again in their favorite local bar, ended up as an over the top themed revue of pop music that you would never really hear a band play live. And the crowd latched on eagerly.

When did you dream of becoming a Llama?

HUGH CURRIER: Other people had told me of their dreams of me being a Llama.

CAIT SPITFIT: I dreamt of being a part of llama lasagna the entire three years prior to that point, as one of the group’s dedicated fans. If I wasn’t dancing at the front of the crowd, I was tending bar at the show.

ALL: Apparently its like a secret society with a criteria that is both mysterious and obvious…if you get discovered as being an asset to the GREATER GOODTIMES OF ALL and a charitable cause,YOU may wake up a LLAMA, or at least covered in a mysterious ooze…spit! spit! Really though its like a vouching/voting process from senior Llamas.

When did you become a Llama?

JAMES TODD:  I’ve been a part of this madness since Llama 2.

JAY METCALF: I believe it’s something I was born with, but no true Llama characteristics became apparent until shortly after Bush II. That’s when lasagna got involved. (please don’t ask) Physical features began to be more noticeable around November of 2004 and it was quickly realized that further actions needed to be done about the situation.

DAN THOMAS:  I became a Llama in 2004. It was NASCAR Llama and a friend invited me on board. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I was instantly hooked.

HUGH CURRIER: Nascar Llama, that was my first one.

CAIT SPITFIT: I’ve been a llama since the first space llama (11, I believe).

What is the responsibility of a Llama?

JAY METCALF: To procreate and spread our seed. The same responsibility for every worthwhile living thing on the planet. We just do it with costumes.

DAN THOMAS: A Llama should above all else maintain a ridiculous attitude while on and off stage, and in rehearsals. The weirder the better. Step outside your box.

What does Llama mean to you?

JAMES TODD: Llama is a family, a community, a social club and the BEST FREAKING TIME a musician will have playing out!!

JAY METCALF:  Hmmm. Aside from a great excuse to put normal life on hold for a couple months a couple times a year, Llama is an opportunity for all levels of artists and performers in the Pioneer Valley, regardless of medium, genre, or generation, to join forces and put on a production that is super awesome for a worthy cause a couple times a year. It’s an opportunity for an audience to be part of that awesomeness, dressing up, having fun, and leaving reeling with warm and fuzzy feelings for an indefinite amount of time. Heck sometimes they might be picking feathers out of unwashed body parts months later! The comradery is so good to see, the most random pairings of artists on stage is hilarious, the excitement of new Llamas is addictive, and everyone has an opportunity to learn from others. We have Llamas ranging from high schoolers to long standing Valley Veterans; the next buzz worthy upstart band to well seasoned touring musicians.  Where else can you get that type of fix as an artists? It’s like a crazy forum of chaos that somehow pulls off something amazing twice a year. And once a llama, always a llama. It’s better than an extended family, we pick each other’s noses.  We don’t have to pick our friends.

DAN THOMAS: Llama means a chance to connect with other musicians and play great music that doesn’t always find its way into the standard repertoire.

What is Llama?

ALL (being longest running catch phrase): Its’s Hilarious!!

CAIT SPITFIT: Llama is a supportive community of musicians helping each other progress and expand their influence.

What is Llama to you?

HUGH CURRIER: Llamas like a jelly fish, an amorphous blob, both beautiful and terrifying at that same time… actually more Portuguese Man of War.

CAIT SPITFIT: On a most personal note, llama is a family that looks out for one another in trying times and shares in celebrating each other’s joys. I don’t know where I would be without it.

What was your favorite Llama?

JAMES TODD: Either Halloween (Llama 6) or FutureLlama (Llama 11).

JAY METCALF: Probably the NASCAR Appreciation Party (llama IV), that’s when I perfected the 6am bass playing maneuver in which the only functioning part of the body in balance were fingers working out one of those difficult AC/DC riffs with 1Man Sound, known at the show as 1Patch Sound, due to a potential Llama related injury the day of the show. It also featured Johnny Cash and The Primate Fiasco. Ricky Bobby was killing it around that time as well.

Mustachio Bashio (llama VIII) was off the hook too. Chicks look sexy in moustaches if it’s done right. Man, we acted like dumb-ass kids back then. Oh wait, weren’t we having pillow fights, playing truth or dare and spin the bottle at this last one back in November?

I sort of slipped out of the loop during the teen years. Lots of hormones flying around – it was a little intimidating.

DAN THOMAS: A favorite Llama is tough, but one that sticks out was the Mustachio Bashio. So much good music and everyone was decked out in staches. If you showed up at the door without one, we had sharpies ready. And all of the 80’s baseball cards we gave out were tickets to the after party.

HUGH CURRIER: Beach Party Theme, favorite Llama period, beach party was great.

CAIT SPITFIT: My favorite llama theme was llamapocalypse; it was my best performance and the crowd was especially infectious. There aren’t many other folks I’d enjoy the end of the world with more than the other llamas. It was also the first time I had the pleasure of hosting rehearsals at my house.

And The British Invasion Llama was remembered for a moment…on Facebook:

JAY METCALF: British Invasion, most of the Llamas were picking out clothes at Salvation Army instead of rehearsing the day before the show, which was pretty customary back then. For some reason, we figured that women’s pants were the most like the chaps worn by the British Invasion bands (typical dumb ass Llama deduction). So there we are, multiple Llamas at the same time in the dressing rooms laughing hysterically before exiting the dressing room to show off in front of more laughing Llamas in pants that were way too tight. All of a sudden, Llama Todd, whose name is not the same anymore, howls “Shit, I can’t get them off! I CAN’T GET THEM OFF!”    

April 23 at 10:58pm · Like · 3

DAN THOMAS: Ahh yes the old British Invasion of the Tight Pants. I remember I wanted to look like Billy Idol so I had Sarah bleach my hair cuz she said she “used to do it all the time!!” When I asked why it was burning she says its normal. Sure enough we left it in too long and burned off the first layer of my scalp. My hair was bright white though so I guess it worked!!

April 23 at 11:27pm · Like · 3

James Todd: Leopard print. I wound up looking like Spinal Tap and Mick Jagger had their way with Twisted Sister.

April 23 at 11:28pm · Like · 2

Adam Mann: I still have the skinny jeans I laid on the back porch and threw bleach on before that show. They’re still awesome. I also remember Harpo pullin the plug before the climax of Bohemian Rhapsody resulting in the greatest moment of collective rock and roll blue balls of recent memory.

See it takes a lot of planning to be so amazing…

What was your favorite costume?

JAMES TODD: Space Commander!

HUGH CURRIER: Ummmm I never got too done up….oh I take it back….Super Dweeb Costume from Heros. We did that Llama at the Fine Arts Center at Umass.

CAIT SPITFIT: My favorite costume, hands down, has been my simplest one – an imperial pint of Guinness at llamaholic. I like paying homage to my ancestors and it was fitting for my performance of Whiskey in the Jar that night.

EMMALYN HICKS: My favorite costume was being a “party animal” with my dress of bottle caps, and my favorite theme was actually alchhoholic llama. Some of the best costumes happened for that one: Tom Collins, Bloody Mary, wounded soldier, White Russian –ooooohhh. Maybe that’s my favorite costume actually.

At James Todd…when was it decided that your chest hair is an essential part of Llama?

JAMES TODD: Well, I created a character for Llama 8 Moustachio Bashio who actually was a porn star named Rodd Cummings- he has a pretty serious moustache. You may hold him directly responsible. He keeps coming (back) again and again.

What is your role in Llama?

JAMES TODD: Singer and sometimes guitar. (James left out production, he builds the stage and maintains the archives)

JAY METCALF: Llama Ginger Numero Uno (keyboards, PR)

DAN THOMAS: I am Llama’s Musical Director, but I like to think of myself as kind of a shepherd, coaxing the herd to newer and stranger musical pastures. There is a certain amount (a lot) of chaos with these proud beasts and you must embrace it. You can’t control it, but you can guide it.

HUGH CURRIER: Was guitar and sang, today…no band…production, now I own this shit. Sound. Lights. Staging.

EMMALYN HICKS: Crowd participation is why I’m here…being that there is no “stage” at the harp it was not long before I was in front of a mic–invited or not–as are many people on such well-attended nights of debauchery. I guess it’s been ok I haven’t been kicked out yet . Hah!

As a Llama what are your super hero powers?

JAY METCALF: How are you supposed to know that I have superhero powers?  Is that YOUR superhero power? To determine whether or not others have superhero powers?  Aha! My powers of deduction rule that the score is now 1=0 Haha, hashtag winning!

DAN THOMAS: I can see the future.

HUGH CURRIER: An uncanny ability to piss off other people, my propensity of show boating, and at one point I had long hair and flatter stomach.

EMMALYN HICKS: The artistic element has always been my attraction, including costumes and flyers.

Llama Lasagne, they are a band of wily artists with big ole hearts and amazing desire to make a night to be remembered. Be there or be “so bummed” that you seemed to have had a temporary lapse of reason that will haunt you until you can attend a Llama in the future…as my co-editor just said “Be there, or hear about it for the rest of your life.” That is no joke…and its for Dakin Humane Society, help our animal friends out!

MAY 30th at the Florence VFW, 9pm-12:30am

Llama Lasagne Returns To The Wild Kingdom

After party across the street at The 13th Floor Lounge above JJ’s Tavern.

If Interested in knowing more and supporting the efforts of Llama Lasagne through sponsorship contact The Buzz.