Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When It's Real Love, You Know You Do It for Free

As I drove through the pouring rain and flooding roads on my way to Ashland Coffee and Tea to see Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles, it occurred to me that a cozy coffeehouse for a show was an ideal destination to wile away such an evening.

The weather and locale also dictated my food choices; I ordered the Brunswick Stew, which was made with pork rather than chicken and loaded with limas and corn. Accompanying it was a warm corn muffin double the size of my fist (really), not too sweet and not too moist or crumbly. When I got down to the last of the stew broth, I emptied all the bits and crumbs from the muffin paper into my bowl and watched the muffin absorb every bit, allowing me to enjoy a sort of deconstructed sopping process, using my soup spoon to scoop up the wet crumbs.

For dessert, I stayed with their strengths and got the homemade cookie trio: white chocolate macadamia, oatmeal craisin and chocolate chip, with a glass of cab. I was satisfied.

As I ate and people took tables around me, the discussions were of musicians like Alison Krause, Jerry Douglas and Brandi Carlisle. The type of fans who refer to Merlefest and South by Southwest by the year, because they've been to so many. I was happily ensconced at my favorite table, one from the stage and next to the bar. Later, when the band left the stage, the bass player came over and thanked me for sitting there.

The band got right to it shortly after 8 and it was probably after the second song that Sarah Borges told the audience, "Okay the trains are a little disconcerting. It's like my whole life just flashed before me." I love how beautifully expressive her voice is, but she was also pretty, smart, witty and flexible (she told us that last part, but she moved awfully well, kicking and sashaying onstage). At one time included in the generic alt-country niche, the band's new CD is more straight on indie rock, plus the band did several covers, including J. Geils' "Cryin' One More Time for You." They're both Boston bands, so it made sense as a choice, at least the way she explained it.

The band was terrific; bass player Binky announced to us all his room number at the "quaint little spot called the Day's Inn," the guitar player used a half-filled bottle of beer instead of his left hand to play one song and the drummer requested that they skip something on the set list because it made his head spin. Sarah provided very clever banter between each song, making up ditties and teasing her band incessantly.

And when it was all over and time to head out into the rainy, windy night, Binky's question to me as we stood in the bathroom line after the show resonated in my head; was there really anything better to do on a rainy night than listen to a live band? Binky had a point.

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