Monday nights can be slim pickins for something interesting to do and then there's a Monday night like last night, with multiple good choices and it's just a matter of deciding where you want to be and what you want to hear. In my case, a friend suggested Cous Cous for Larry and His Flask with a couple of interesting openers, so my decision was made and the Camel and Balliceaux were forgotten.
Since we weren't meeting until 9:30, though, I had plenty of time to visit 27 for dinner and to catch up with one of my favorite waiters. I started with the Morli Neri Chianti and the good news from my friend that he'd just been accepted into graduate school at Columbia, surely cause for celebration.
He recommended the Moules Marinieres (P.E.I. mussels with homemade white wine, shallot and cream sauce) because it was a new preparation for 27, who usually offers a red sauce of some kind. They were savory and delicious; sopping up that cream sauce with a whole lot of bread finished my meal beautifully.
Of course I had dessert, but I at least tried something new. It was the Bombe: passion fruit, mango and raspberry sorbet wrapped in a white and dark chocolate shell. The delicacy of the sorbets with the necessary chocolate (at least in my case) was everything I could have wanted in a dessert. I did share with a member of the staff since he'd never had it.
With shows at Cous Cous, I like to arrive before the crowds to secure a stool for protection. Inevitably it gets mobbed in there and a stool at least ensures that I can only get knocked into from one direction. I'd heard great things about Larry and His Flask's talent with their punk/hillbilly sound. I was expecting to see a certain local Americana singer and, sure enough, she was the first person I saw on arrival. She'd already seen them (of course) and highly recommended them.
Opening was Tom Vanden-Avond & Soda and, I have to tell you, this guy's voice sounded whiskey-soaked and amazing. He could have been singing anything with those pipes and it would have been a pleasure to listen. His fiddle player (Seabass, as he referred to him) added hugely to the sound, which would likely be called alt-country since he's from Texas, but probably owes as much to Dylan.
Next up was Chris McNew and by this time the place was hopping. And by that, I mean everyone was talking loudly non-stop, making it difficult to hear the music. I know that this is how shows at Cous Cous are, but it always annoys me anyway. Even the musicians acknowledged that drunk people just want to talk loud. The guy next to me couldn't stop talking about being dumped; his ex was there with her new guy and it was killing him. One guy belched so incredibly loudly in my companion's ear that it was worthy of comment, not that the burper cared who he'd offended (or noticed the looks of the surrounding onlookers).
So I'm ashamed to say that by midnight we abandoned the crowd for another destination and never got to see Larry and His Flask. I can only hope the Oregon group will be back through again so I can hear their hillbilly folk punk, preferably somewhere where the audience is actually there to appreciate the music. They played a house show last time they were in rva and I'll bet that audience was way more attentive than last night's.
I know it's lot to hope for, but I'm guessing the musicians would be on my side and, in a perfect world, they'd demand attention of their audience. At the very least, guys, get as drunk as you want during the show, but just shut up about it so I can hear the music.
Hey, I can dream, can't I?