Monday, December 20, 2010

Imagining the Bass Line

After such a traditional and wholesome Christmas show this afternoon, wouldn't you just know I'd have to swing completely in the other direction tonight? Come on, you did, right?

Firehouse Theater was presenting Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge as a staged reading and the ten-buck ticket price included an adult beverage. The house was nearly full.

The story, a takeoff on A Christmas Carol was so politically incorrect, so irreverent and so funny that I felt it more than canceled out any sweet, wholesome Christmas vibes I had absorbed earlier today.

The performance had plenty of wicked asides as well as commentary about the play itself (the young Jacob Marley asking, "Why don't I have any lines?" after a long discourse by other characters).

The Ghost of Christmases Past, Present and Future is written for a black women and at one point Scrooge tells her, "I don't think there even were any Negro people in 1842." Ouch.

Mrs. Bob Cratchit turned out to be a miserable woman who hated her life and was always leaving to get drunk and jump off of London Bridge. She belittled her children mercilessly, ignored their requests for food and barely tolerated her sanctimonious husband and his delightfully overboard accent.

In a play full of references to other times, she bemoaned the absence of feminism. "I wish it were 1977 so I'd be admired for my unpleasantness," she wailed. No feminist stereotype there.

But eventually Clarence, the angel from It's A Wonderful Life, came along to help out the ghost and solve both Scrooge's attitude problem as well as Mrs. Cratchit's misery in a novel twist that landed the two of them in, when else, 1977.

After a skewering of Christmas like that, I couldn't resist a little offbeat Christmas music to close out the evening. Commercial Taphouse was hosting Glows in the Dark, RVA's premiere free jazz practitioners, doing their Christmas show.

I generally feel like I have no business in the Taphouse (except to eat ribs) given my lack of appreciation for suds and such. But their beer menu has such wonderfully clever beer descriptions that I make a habit of reading it anyway. And then I always order tequila, which I did again tonight.

Next to me was a beer geek who, as part of a beer collective (how did I not know there were such things?), spends his Sundays, not watching football, but brewing and geeking out about beer. When I asked, he did admit they they occasionally detour into talk of "our ladies and stuff." I thought that was adorable.

He was full of great stories about the mishaps of brewing; today's had to do with the propane tank and sloshing it around. "I saw fire fall," he said, obviously still incredulous. Really? Can't say I've ever seen fire fall myself, but then I don't spend my Sundays in a garage.

I still have fond memories of Glows in the Dark's Halloween show two years ago when they did all music from John Carpenter movies, so there was no way I was missing their Christmas show, especially when I'd heard rumours of music from the Charlie Brown Christmas special.

Scott Burton started off by telling the audience, "We're down a bass player. He's really sick. So you'll have to fill in the bass parts with your mind." A musician friend nearby assured me this was quite doable, but I'm sure Scott also made some modifications in his guitar playing to compensate.

They began with an original non-Christmas piece and then launched into a superb rendition of "Little Drummer Boy," which they topped with Vince Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy" from A Charlie Brown Christmas. "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" was next and the crowd was just eating it up.

Christmas music never sounded so good as when played by trombone, saxophone, guitar and drums with the bass line in the crowd's head.

At least that's the way it felt tonight.


  1. Bob Cratchits' Binge sounded funny. Sorry...missed that...Tap House to. Sounds like you've been around long enough to jetsam the flotsam and get down to the meat...haven't seen you at the old Jewish cemetery, [late night], Shockoe Hill have I ?? Near the haunted Confederate Hospital No. 1...vukodlaks' playground at dusk...Christmas coming out for the fat man with the bag...

  2. Only been to Shockoe Cemetery once:

    Not expecting the fat man with the bag here...