Friday, September 24, 2010

Drooling the Night Away

"I will be coming from the dentist and I'm not sure how I'll be. I just hope I'm not drooling," read the e-mail from the friend I was meeting for happy hour.

But she's a really good friend, so even if she had been drooling, I think we could have worked around it.

I like her enough that I'd wipe her chin dry if it came to that.

The plan was to meet up at Pescado's China Street since she'd never been to either location, despite living on the southside.

My reluctance to go south of the river is common knowledge, but actually I had been to China Street on the night it opened, here. I had held off since then to allow for the novelty to lessen a bit.

But just in case, we'd also arrived early.

Even so, the bartender and chef both said they remembered me; maybe it's sitting in that end bar stool that makes a person memorable.

Hopefully it wasn't the sheer quantity of what I ate that time.

The owner greeted me and introduced himself and my friend arrived without drool, but there was adhesive stuck to her jaw, which I had to point out (it's like broccoli in your teeth...wouldn't you want to know?).

After three hours in the dentist's chair, I was just glad she'd shown up.

We were early enough to enjoy all the great specials, so we availed ourselves of the $3 wine (Malbec or Chardonnay) and the $4 appetizers in a nearly empty blue dining room.

It gave the owner time to chat us up about what we do, where we live and his recent reviews.

I am always curious to hear what owners and chefs offer up about their opinions of critics.

The lobster quesadilla was plump and the accompanying cheese sauce flavorful, the mussels in coconut curry broth were devoured before we began drinking the broth with a spoon and the shrimp nachos used blue corn chips (my favorite) and plenty of shrimp, cheese, green onions, red peppers and even cabbage for crunch.

Friend had to switch from wine to beer though, because the acidity of the wine was hurting her mouth, but given today's heat, she didn't seem to mind too terribly much.

Or maybe she was just trying to compensate for the numbness wearing off.

We finished with the steaming-hot conch fritters because everybody likes fried bread with sauce.

By that time, the dining room was nearing capacity and we saw plenty of impressive-looking seafood being carried past us, but we were full.

After discussing the usual (her love life, the absence of mine), she wanted to know what was next.

"I know I'm only Act One, so what's after this?" she teased.

Can you guess she works in theater?

Music at Gallery 5 was next and when I described the bands, she regretted not being able to go.

And it was a great line-up, starting with Lob Marino ("Karen, it's the same set you heard at Sprout, but we're just about done with some new stuff." Promises, promises).

Every song except one had been written while they were in South America and the one written here was about last winter, undoubtedly a shock to their system upon their return.

The witty and self-deprecating Liza Kate followed, randomly telling the audience that she loves attention and that she'd ridden a horse today.

"Ever been famous?" she asked. "It's hot up here!"

Chapel Hill's Birds and Arrows was next and I was especially eager to hear them for the first time.

Tuning up and sound-checking, lead singer Andrea asked the sound guy for less reverb.

"A little less far down the well," she clarified. "Less My Morning Jacket."

As my close musical friends know, it's not about a well, it's about a cave, for crying out loud, and I love the sound of music from a cave, but apparently it's not what B & A are going for.

They launched into their latest single and mid-way through, the place went dark.

In the highlight of the evening, the band kept right on playing.

The cello, drums and acoustic guitar all still worked and the audience cheered them for not stopping.

"We're so rock and roll, we blew the power," Andrea laughed.

The next song began while the stage was still dark but electricity was restored and they went on with their set of beautiful harmonies, well-crafted songs and obvious enthusiasm for what they do.

Introducing a song about having her 11-year old dog put down this spring, Andrea warned the audience not to cry.

And I didn't cry, but there was definite welling up since the same thing had happened to me this past spring.

Or maybe I just needed an excuse to well. In any case, the song seemed to be a crowd favorite, one of many the audience responded enthusiastically to.

Finishing up the night was the stellar Ophelia and unfortunately their set was limited by the noise ordinance curfew (don't get me started), so it was shorter than the fans would have liked.

I can only hope that the next time I see them, I get much more of them.

I seem to be hoping for a lot more of several things lately.

Just not more sad dog songs; they're just gateway music to the harder stuff and who needs that?

First I well and next thing you know I'll be drooling...and have to wipe my own chin.

Just give me some reverb to do it by.


  1. Karen,
    I'm with you on reverb. I love caves.

  2. Another music-from-a-cave lover? Be still my heart!

    And now, if you'll excuse me, back to listening to the Joy Formidable and the Twilight Sad...

  3. You don't like crossing the river? You ARE practically native. The place I work was forced to move right on the river because it was the only way they could convince people from both sides to come.

  4. I start to fret when I get too far from the city center. I want to be able to walk home if necessary.

  5. Ohh--well, that's the first reasonable explanation I've heard! You should tell everyone else.

  6. Thank you. I have a reason for everything.