Monday, March 15, 2010

Eating and Listening Ipanema-Style

Tonight was the twelfth installment of the year long series of the Live at Ipanema shows. That' s a full year of monthly shows featuring some of the top talent in the area playing free shows and being recorded every month. If you haven't caught one of these shows, you'd better have a good excuse, that's all I can say.

It's too tempting not to start the evening with a meal at Ipanema, so I did. My friend and I found prime viewing spots at the bar and ordered our meal. We began with beet salad, superior to many because of the thinness of the beet slices, the abundance of the goat cheese and the perfection of the vinaigrette.

I wanted the herbed polenta with an oyster mushroom ragout and roasted root veggies and she got the salmon. I loved the contrast of the bready polenta with the succulent mushrooms and surrounded by root veggies, a personal favorite.

Dessert was the brownie a la mode for me and the gluten-free strawberry cake for her. Mine took longer to finish, but I tasted hers and it was just as good. That pink icing more than made up for any absence of flour.

Tonight's band was Seas, who said they hailed from D.C. and rva; as one who has lived in both places, I was willing to give them a shot based solely on that. Before the show, the bass player Peter and I discussed the changes in D.C. in the past twenty years and agreed that it was no longer the same place it once was; in fact, in many ways, Richmond is far superior. It's always satisfying to find a kindred soul to discuss Adams Morgan and Chinatown in the old days.

The music, I had been warned, was heavily 70s-influenced in a John Fahey-kind of way. We weren't long into the set when that became apparent. In fact, I'd pinpoint it even further by saying that the band listened to a lot of Neil Young and Crazy Horse to arrive at this sound. But they were also twenty-somethings, which meant that when they paid tribute to Mark Linkous, what we heard was Sparklehorse filtered through Dinosaur, Jr.; it was an interesting rock lineage.

I ran into a music-obsessed friend and her partner, which gave us a chance to catch up on our recent music geekdom; turns out we'll meet again soon at the Canal Club. There were literary lions there as well; Richmond Noir is continuing to sell like gangbusters and those who still do not have a copy would be well advised to head on over to Chop Suey to correct that.

And best of all, I finally met Brandon Peck, the artist behind the silk-screen print that hangs framed in my living room (he's also in Mouthbreather I learned). But he's not just notable for his artistic talent; turns out he was at the same Fanfarlo show at the Iota as I was. Finally, another Fanfarlo fan with whom I could gush about their amazingness.

A secondary highlight of the evening was that finally signs were put up informing the audience that the show was being recorded and to shut the hell up. It was a pleasure to enjoy the music without the usual loud, drunken chatter for a change. Heading into the second year of this outstanding series, we can expect an ever-more-respectful audience, which benefits both the musicians and us.

So if you haven't gotten yourself off the couch to enjoy some excellent vegetarian food followed by free music, next month's event is the one-year anniversary and there's no telling what kinds of surprises are in order. At the very least cake and superior sounds, but the potential is actually much greater. Of course, you'll never know if you're not there.

And, yes, I'll be there and report back, but that's just not the same. Experiencing it yourself is really so much better. Besides, then you can challenge my take on it. What do I know, after all?

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