It was way too cold to go out in cute tights tonight, but I did it anyway...and to three different places. But I got compliments on them at two of the three places, so maybe it was worth it after all.
I was meeting my favorite international couple at Garnett's for dinner and it was the perfect place to feel cozy and warm on this frigid night.
Our meal got off to a great start with the smoked salmon platter while I told them about the propaganda film I'd seen last night, which they seemed to get a big kick out of. We were sort of joined by the biologist, who came in and sat down next to us for dinner and added his two cents' worth now and then.
In my quest to have a sandwich I haven't had before, I ordered the grilled ham and Gouda with mayo, mustard and pickles. Since it was the couple's first visit, they got the trademark sandwiches, the Louisville Hot Brown and the Crooque Monsieur Florentine and raved about the quality of the ingredients and the sheer size of the sammies.
Because the male portion of this couple has almost as fierce a sweet tooth as I do, we finished with the blackberry cake, a misnomer because it was more of an almond cake, very moist of crumb, with a blackberry filling and a classic butter cream that pleased us all for not being overly sweet.
From there it was five blocks to the Firehouse Theater for the Readers' Theater series, tonight presenting "9 Parts of Desire," a one-woman play depicting nine different Iraqi women and their feelings about their lives. Actress Sara Heifetz did a remarkable job of conveying the issues affecting each of the women, using body language, accents and the occasional prop, all while holding her script.
The playwright spent time in Iraq getting to know women there in order to make composite characters to reflect the array of smart, strong and beautiful women she met. A line that expressed the attitude toward them, "Iraqi women don't open their mouths, even for the dentist," pretty much said it all.
At the talkback with the director and actress afterwards, the audience seemed interested in seeing the play produced despite its strong political implications. Would RVA audiences come to see a play about Iraqi women? I know I'd like to think so.
One thing I found fascinating was the origin of the title. Apparently in the book of the same name from which the play was inspired (using the word "Nine" rather than the numeral), the author posits that god created ten parts of desire and gave nine to women and one to men.
Somehow this made perfect sense to our little group. It's certainly as good an explanation for the differences in the sexes as any I've heard.
Post-dinner and theater, what else was there but music? Sprout had scheduled a show at the last minute after the goings-on over at Strange Matter this weekend (violations, closings) had left three bands with no venue, so suddenly there was an excellent bill to be had.
Arriving at Sprout, the first thing I noticed was the addition of booths to the front room along with a row of shelves to create a divider between them and the door. Visually, it looked great while creating more seating. Win/win.
After some verbal sparring with the doorman (a good friend who was jokingly insisting on seeing my ID to let me in), I went back to the bar room and ordered up a Virgil's root beer and got comfy for the first musician, Louis Cyrtmus.
He was funny, saying he used to sit down to play but found he liked to dance mid-set so now he stands instead. An audience member yelled out, "It's rock and roll; you're supposed to stand!" Wait, isn't rock and roll about breaking the rules?
He tuned his guitar midway through rather than continuing to play it out of tune, much to the approval of the audience, many of whom were musicians. His set was short, so I'll be interested to hear more in the future.
The next performance was to be in the back room, which was already crowded by the time I made my way back there. Owner Jamie saw me and invited me to join him and a couple of friends in "the VIP booth" which was really just the back table pushed up against the wall.
I was honored...and lucky because there were no other seats except on the floor and the cute tights were not going to be good for floor sitting, I can assure you.
Charlottesville-turned-Richmond band Tyger and the Lamb came next and I have to agree with a friend who said, "I wish they played out more." Saying that they played well-constructed indie rock doesn't tell you much, but I heard lots of indie influences and enjoyed every song. So that's the best I can do.
Headlining was Asheville-via-Brooklyn band The Broadcast, a soulful indie rock six-piece group that could barely be contained on Sprout's stage. Lead singer Caitlin had a big set of pipes and her voice was a standout among a bunch of really talented musicians.
Caitlin said that she was called a hippie when they were in Brooklyn and once they moved to Asheville she was called a hipster, so she's not really sure where she belongs. Someone yelled out, "Richmond!" and the audience agreed that that wasn't too far off. We do have our fair share of hippie/hipster hybrids.
The Broadcast played a different set than they intended to, based on the intimacy of the room and the crowd. It worked well and they finished with their new single, as funky a song as I've ever heard in Sprout. These guys were good.
When they finished, Jamie and his fellow DJ immediately kicked into vintage mode and as I said my goodnights, Herb Alpert's "A Taste of Honey" was blaring from the turntable, the classic album cover with the girl covered in whipped cream propped up on the table.
Unlike Iraqi women, I have the freedom to enjoy myself as I see fit, cute tights and all. Chilly as it was, it was more than worth going out in them tonight. But isn't it always?