home town throw down part deux
monday nights are a regular night for jen, carl, claire and pete and sometimes mark and yahuba and insert-name-of-other-lucky-musician-here. however, it's not a regular night out night for most folks, there usually being work on tuesday, but they pull 'em in to pack the place anyway, and the music is GOO-ooo-OOD. so when i headed down last night i was already expecting something fine and with limited elbow-room, but what i encountered was way off that chart.
my first clue was being greeted at the closed (!?) door by the door guy with the bad news that there IS such a thing as fire codes and fire capacity in this world, (see references to tex-mas eve at the worthen for background on that), and toad had reached theirs, so i was going to have to take in the first part of the first set through the window and on the sidewalk. on a MONDAY NIGHT. with a whole bunch of my new friends only some of which had heard the band before. yeah, yeah, it's a "vacation week" and a lot of people don't have to work on tuesday, just like me, but "vacation week" also means tons of students and other music hounds are coincidentally out of town, so this whole thing couldn't be just any old coincidence. (for my part, i'm blaming this guy j. who i met at a jen kearney and the lost onion summer concert at tyler park in the highlands a couple of years ago, who is getting to be a regular friend of mine for how often i see him at these sorts of things, for bringing not only his wife, but his two beautiful daughters, who, of course, were accompanied by two beautiful boyfriends who were also blown away by how good the whole thing was, and so it went...) where was i?
the place is packed. (i needed that).
oh, wrong night.
but, yeah, the place is packed. and it's rockin'. how one bartender can fuel that sort of group euphoria can only be explained by the fact that alcohol isn't the only thing that intoxicates--the band was at (one of) its (many) finest(s). the first set was packed with "the year of the ox", and you all (right?) know how fine those songs sound. one particularly appreciative patron (who was gushing all over jen about it at the break) turns out to be my new and second best friend from ponce puerto rico (yes, i told him about yahuba, and how to keep tabs on the tour dates for when he'll be in next) who had a great laugh when i told him how us 'merricans can't resist the "do you know" game with people who aren't from here, and "ricardo santiago". the best part of the joke is that "ricardo santiago" is essentially puerto rican for "richard smith", and, besides, ricardo would have been a better bet to be his dad's friend than his, but there i go digressing again.
the other most appreciative fan of the night award has to go with the redhead at the bar and her top-hatted companion and the SECOND set, which was burn-the-bar-to-the-ground HOT HOT HOT in ways that no man or woman has words to describe. first of all, claire finley was at her band-making best on the bass last night, to a point where she had turned pete maclean into a six year old kid back there on his drums, playing around on and with every groove with her. (that doesn't even mention how she leaned over carl's shoulders on the solos and just about fell in love with every one, fighting the crowd for who it might be that could possibly love them all most, and it certainly doesn't explain how she kept meeting jen's voice with her own on the harmonies so that they both melted you like butter all over the floor and also lifted you up to the rafters at the same time, but, as usual, i digress). yes, the redhead at the bar was a woman possessed to the point where you could read it all over her face and see it written all across her body as she breathed it all in and moved so that she was at once part of the music. (it was a treat just to see it happen). at the break she had tossed jen a twenty for the cd, and in the instant that it took jen to explain that she was going to have to fish in a pocket for the ten-spot for change, she was already waving and insisting that there wasn't going to be any change for what she knew first-hand was going to be twenty-dollars-worth of music in each and every song. and then her top-hatted companion bought another one, too.
the room was in love.
and well they chose their moment.
what is and what should never be. year of the ox. let love rule. back to back to back. a three-song tour-de-force that some bands work their entire careers to find, and these kids had it right there and right now. carl was on eleven (fender blues jr!) and suh-MOK-in. i mean call the fire marshall suh-MOK-in. every person in the arms-length radius around me stopped everything when he hit the solos, (i couldn't see or hear anything beyond that, i was entranced), and then exploded into a cataclysm of applause after each one. and jen--you had to be there, but she had the keyboard turned up!!! i mean, so even the "throw-away" fills that aren't ever really ever throw-away, but she's too modest to make more of them, even though you wish like you were wishing to santa on christmas eve that he would only grant you that one very special wish, could be heard clearly and cleanly and perfectly in the mix, and you could get lost in how sweet they are and have always been. awesome. and, of course, at the back and the bottom but the front and the center at the same time, pete and claire (who are soon going to need to become referred to as one entity because they're getting to the point where they'll no longer be able to be considered as separate parts they're so tight) were setting down the grooves and the breaks so that even old yankees with bad knees had to move their entire bodies with the waves of music...
no, i'm not still drunk. in fact, i had two beers all of last night and its worth noting that i never even got to be. i was just glad to be in a place where music happened last night like it happened last night.
the sum total of the moment was during "let love rule". jen had the telecaster groovin' and carl had the stratocaster soaring, and clairepete was, well, clairepeting in the highest, and the whole bar was singing: "it's time to take a stand / brothers and sisters join hands". and there were all the moments--the bass break--the euphoric guitar--the organ fill--the BEAT--and you find me another bar that's standing room on the sidewalk on a monday night and i'll try to get there too, because this was a night that makes you glad you're alive.
let love rule!