Potomac & Shenandoah
Consortium is a loose collection of passive musicians, reluctant part-time students and strident corporate shills. Their second record entitled 'Potomac and Shenandoah,' a concept album detailing the convergence and conflict of secularism and spirituality personified in the lives of two sisters, was released on 11/17/06. The story - Shenandoah obliged. Her story was her husband's, her language was her sons' and her ambitions were fictionalized in the biographies of minor historical figures and imperfect deities. Her husband drank and talked. She counted and listened. They took their sons to a different battleground each summer. At Harper's Ferry she read about Martha Brown, wife of Oliver, widowed as a teen. She hiked alone in the surrounding bluffs; from the top she memorized the topography at the rivers' convergence and accepted it. She read The Story of the Saints to her two sons at night, or letters from their Aunt Potomac, postmarked from places like Abilene and Odessa. One letter had a photocopied newspaper clipping with the headline: "The Angel of the Nanjing Bridge." The letter said: "Boys, if there was a bridge on 101st St., they'd be writing about your mother. Love, P." She read them the story of the Chinese man who spent his off-days guarding the rail over the Yangtze River and they confused it with a story of one of the saints. She instilled too much empathy in her sons. They tried to outrun their blood, but only one made it. When Shenandoah's passport finally arrived, she emptied half of their savings from the bank, sealed the ashes in a Tupperware container, wrote her sister, and left to find the Yangtze. Potomac spent her life ignoring duty and tradition, myth and magic. She plotted weekly to kill passing acquaintances, family and friends. She gave away her money to strangers on streetcars and dirty-nosed children who sang alone in alleyways. She vowed to question everything, and never to marry or be enslaved to convenience. But she met a quiet man without orthodox demands and so she married him. They went up north camping for their honeymoon. The fish said as much as he did and that was fine by her - she didn't plot to kill him once. She left him thirteen times, each time closer to dissolving rat poison in his coffee, pushing him in front of a bus, dropping the toaster in his bath. She'd scribble a note in the margin of a newspaper or on the back of a phone bill that would read: "gone to the Boundary Waters." She'd be gone six months at a time, sometimes longer. She'd take the bus to Texas where she found comfort in it's barren plains and last-chance hucksters. She taught biology in Galveston and fished off the floodwalls. She hitchhiked to the western edge of Central time and felt awkward, so she doubled back. She mingled with the conspirators in Dallas and slept on a stripper's couch. She clipped stories from small-town newspapers that mixed the mystical with the measurable. She kept one story in her pocket like a house key. It concerned two teens that had drowned in a quarry outside of Austin. The teens' corpses had been pulled from the water with broad smiles frozen on their faces. "They were smiling because they could see Jesus," a relative of one of them said. She'd take up with a man in every city. She'd head back north, and home, a while later just ahead of killing him. She'd walk into the living room of their bungalow to her husband in a reading chair by the alcove windows. "I came back for some of my books," she would say and then she'd stay another few years, until she'd narrowly beat the murderous muses out of town again. Her last trip was to Austin. A one-sentence letter from her sister found her there with the death notice for Shenandoah's oldest son. The letter said: "Gone to find the Nanjing Bridge. Love, Shen." She left Texas the next day, her homicidal impulses rising and forever disappearing into the Panhandle dust. They had a few good years together before his past began to slip. He made Potomac promise to kill him before it left him completely. She laughed wickedly and spent a sleepless night in the park making snow angels.