Sunday, October 24, 2010

Walking in the Dark

It's an excellent night musically when I can start with one kind of music at 6:30 and end somewhere else with a completely different kind at 12:30.

It was the recent Folk Fest that landed me at Barrel Thief tonight for the Jason Jenkins Trio. At that mind-blowing Zakir Hussain show, I had sat next to a local drummer who had arrived as ridiculously early for the show as I had, so we'd had plenty of time to talk music, shows and audiences.

He had mentioned then that he was playing a show at Barrel Thief tonight and suggested I come by for some jazz to start my evening. I'll admit I was a little surprised when I arrived around 6:35 to find that most tables were taken and the remaining reserved. Luckily, there was a corner banquette with a low table in front of it with a great view of the band and I was ushered to it.

Taking Virginia Wine month to heart, I chose the Pollak Vineyards Meritage (a stellar blend of Cab Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot) for my drinking pleasure throughout the evening and started with the olive tapenade, chevre and cucumber bruschetta.

Later, at my server's suggestion, I had the Chef's grilled cheese on rosemary foccacia, an interesting take on the standard, with multiple cheeses and sun-dried tomato spread. I do wish Barrel Thief had a wider menu.

My drumming friend and his cohorts were playing a variety of jazz standards to the obvious delight of the attentive audience, some of whom commented to the band between songs like old friends, or at least neighbors and frequent attendees.

During the break my drummer friend came over to get reacquainted and talk about what else we'd each seen at the Folk Fest after the tabla tour de force. He'd gotten to see Salsa Duro, the one group I'd really wanted to see and didn't, so he got to rub that in, telling me how amazing they were and why.

I left midway through the second set because I wanted to make the Wood & Steel acoustic show at Gallery 5 and I had to make a quick stop at home to exchange cute wine bistro platform shoes for standing-on-cement-for-hours shoes (boots, actually) before walking over; it was a most necessary transition.

I passed a utility repairman doggedly trying to restore power to the unlit street lights and asked him if there would be light by the time I walked home from the show; he assured me that there would be. Always good to hear.

When I arrived, Nick Woods was playing an earnest set, followed by Shannon Cleary, who sang his song about seeing Matt and Kim at the bike lot show and then seeing them Thursday night when the floor felt close to collapsing. Later we talked about the sinking feeling we shared that night about the strength of the Canal Club's flooring versus the enthusiasm of everyone's dancing.

Ophelia was next, but performing as a duo rather than a quartet. The crowd was too noisy as far as my friend and I were concerned, talking and laughing loudly over the heartfelt vocals of David and Jonathan.

My friend, who teaches at VCU, later told me that he could relate to being in front of a room full of people, many of whom were paying no attention to you. Still, it seemed a shame to drown out such beautiful harmonies.

Prabir and the Goldrush were next, doing their usual rock-your-socks-off set. When Prabir went to dedicate a song to a girl, violinist Treesa mentioned that her parents were in the audience, so the song instead went to them. Irreverently, it was followed by a song about smoking weed; no dedication necessary.

The final band was the trio Homemade Knives and they set up on the floor in front of the stage and the remaining members of the audience crowded around them, some sitting on the cold floor (not this girl) and others standing around.

Their haunting set ended with a much-slowed-down cover of Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark, because, according to lead singer Will, "covers are fun." It was an ironic comment considering that the somber and slow version they did of the up-tempo rock standard took the song to a whole new meaningful level and fun had nothing to do with it.

My friend offered to drive me home in case the street lights were still out, but I told him I was willing to go it alone. As I told him, what was going to happen, that I'd die on the streets of J-Ward on a Saturday night under a full moon?

"Worse things could happen," he grinned as he twirled his moustache, knowing I'd be just fine.

Do I have the option of being otherwise?

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