Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Starting Greek at Basilis, Ending Satisfied at the Listening Room

I got props from three different guys tonight and that's a damn fine showing for a Tuesday night, if I do say so myself.

I've said before that I blog for compliments, but sometimes the payoff isn't immediate, which only makes the eventual nod all the more satisfying.

Almost a month ago, a friend read yet another of my Listening Room posts and asked if he could go with me to the next one and naturally I agreed.

Another friend had also been swayed by my rave reviews of the experience and was planning to come.

Friend #1 and I began in Carytown to check out the new Greek restaurant, Basilis, for dinner.

The place is not elaborate, but that's part of its charm along with a menu that'll remind you of the Greek festival.

When we got there, they were down to their last order of one of the two specials, the Mahi-Mahi Souvlakia and it had my name on it.

My friend ordered the moussaka and we shared a spanikopita and a tiropita, craving that buttery, flaky goodness.

My stick o' fish was perfectly cooked and, with the green beans in tomatoes and pita, a practically perfect meal (it came with white rice, too).

My friend enjoyed his moussaka so much we had to sit around for 45 minutes before he had room for dessert, which we chose from the dessert case.

It was the fruit tart, but let me explain Basilis version; it was ladyfingers with whipped chocolate cream (like a light chocolate mousse) and a thin layer of tiny pieces of fruit in the center.

It was light and not in the least guilt-inducing, but not much like any fruit tart you might know.

Before we left, I went to the ladies' room, which turned out to be a lengthy process because of how I'd dressed for the evening.

In order to do what I needed to do, I had to unbutton first a jacket and then a sweater and then unzip my dress, because it had a split skirt I couldn't just pull up, and then remove two pairs of tights, black and magenta.

I felt like I was in there for days.

I tell you this only because I'm renowned for my fast bathroom visits, so I felt I had to tell my friend why when I came out of the loo as an explanation for my extended absence.

As I'm telling him, the guy behind the counter walks by us and says to me, "You're so cute," and walks into the kitchen.


Yet another example of a totally random comment from a stranger directed at me.

But it was nice, so I'll take it.

And then there was the Listening Room, with coffee from Apropos Roasters and coffee cake from Garnett's. We found seats and the music began with Paul Watson, a trumpeter I've seen on multiple occasions.

Tonight he had a guitarist with him and he played trumpet on some songs and sang on others.

At one point, Jonathan Vassar joined him on stage and the two of them puffed up their cheeks and made mock trumpet noises for part of the song, an impressive thing to watch.

By song #3, my companion turned to me and mouthed the word, "AMAZING," with a big grin, followed by a silent, "thank you."

Paul mentioned being tired of playing in bars where people are more interested in partying than listening to the music.

" But that's just me," he rationalized.

No, Paul, it's me and lots of other people, too.

After the first intermission, one of the organizers, Chris Edwards, announced the beginning of the second group's set by teasing his co-organizer.

"Jonathan Vassar, less talking, more sitting."

Can you tell that Chris usually works with children?

Hezekiah Jones, a four-piece from Philly consisting of guitar, lap steel, bass and violin with two members singing, captured the audience with a beautiful folky sound and compelling lyrics.

"This is called 'Cupcakes for the Army," lead singer Raphael said, "and it's about baking."

Or war, but we got his drift.

A couple of songs were written during the three blizzards this past winter and the resulting time stuck inside.

Midway through their set, my other friend, sitting in front of me, turned and mouthed, "WOW!" (Oh, I know.)

Last up was Chris Kasper and for most of his set, all but Raphael of H.J. joined him on stage, adding another dimension to his voice and acoustic guitar.

Chris mentioned how lucky he felt to find people he could stand on stage who could also play their instruments; this is apparently key to a good musical relationship.

They did a song of theirs currently getting a bit of airplay in Philly and acknowledged the thrill of it.

Favorite lyric:"Find me when I'm a bit older...and my tongue a bit bolder." (Oh, is that how I got this way?)

Both the friends who attended for the first time tonight came because they'd read my last four posts about this event and I'd somehow convinced them that they just had to experience the audio pleasure that is the Listening Room.

Sure, I could say I told (wrote) them so, but the real satisfaction is in having turned them on to one of RVA's hidden treasures.

It's all part of my top secret movement to convince the music-going public that the best way to enjoy a show is with their lips sealed and their ears wide open.

But I did tell them so.


  1. The best part at the Listening was the expressions on the face of the HJ bassist. Fav lyric from Chris Kasper, "religion is in the mind of a child."

  2. Phil''s face WAS amazing as he played. He was so totally into it!