Monday, December 13, 2010

Mrs. Jones and the Englishman

To paraphrase the Purple One, I'm glad it was Sunday, cause that's my fun day, all the more so for having two of my favorite monthly events fall on the same rainy night.

The Silent Music Revival at Gallery 5 requires me to get there early enough to score seats in the front row, preferably with good friends on either side of me. That was easily enough accomplished, with plenty of time for conversation, too (Rocktopussy is still a hot topic).

Tonight's film was a complete departure for the SMR, which tends to highlight avant garde and artsy silent films (I say this as someone who has attended this event for three years). but this film was nothing like either.

Poor Mrs. Jones was made by the Department of Agriculture in 1926, essentially as propaganda to help sway people from leaving farms. Poor Mrs. Jones is having a tough day on the farm and wants her husband to sell it and move to the city where he can earn a fabulous $2,000 a year (as opposed to the meager $400 a year he makes on the farm).

Instead he suggests she visit her sister in the big city for a much-needed break. The humor came with Mrs. Jones' introduction to the horrors of city life.

Flights of stairs to reach her sister's apartment wind her. Evaporated milk instead of cream in her coffee disgusts her. Prices at the grocery store shock her. And her feet hurt from walking all over the hard city sidewalks.

Bermuda Triangles provided the improvised soundtrack to tonight's unusual movie, no easy job for a film so plot-driven.

They were especially effective in the scenes involving the stresses of the urban world: women fighting over dresses in a shop, people pounding the pavement, the endless line to get into a movie theater. Multiple drummers made for an especially rhythmic accompaniment.

Organizer Jameson always invites audience members who want to geek out over the film to come talk to him afterwards and I was part of the little group that did just that.

A first-timer to the SMR was also among that group as we discussed the heavy-handed treatment city dwellers got in the government's attempt to glorify farm life. The question was, how much was an accurate depiction of life in the 1920s and how much was exaggeration for the sake of making a point?

Not surprisingly, a good part of SMR's crowd then moved over to Grace Street for Live at Ipanema with Kentucky's Englishman, a band I'd seen twice before and was still eager to see again. My seatmates at SMR became my seatmates at Ipanema, except they switched sides so as to confuse me.

We had plenty of time before the show started, so I had a piece of the chocolate Mexican pie with a warming glass of vin rouge. I loved the heat of the spices layered under the chocolate so much that I ended up recommending the pie to another diner considering it (she agreed with my assessment but was smarter and got hers a la mode).

Not long after finishing, it was time to turn around on my stool and enjoy the view from the bar. I had already told my new-to-Ipanema friend about Englishman's evocation of 70s singer/songwriters and he heard what I was talking about, commenting on the purity of the sound (he's a musician of course). He was even so curious as to check out the recording equipment later, praising the warm vocal sound produced.

With just guitar, keyboard and two beautiful voices, the band's lovely folk pop filled the little basement restaurant, capturing the crowd. Favorite lyric: I may thirst with others, but I drink because of you.

During the performance, talk was at a minimum but when a couple walked out mid-song, singer Andrew said, "You didn't like Matt's piano playing?" to their disappearing backs. I laughed, hoping the couple had heard him.

When their set was over, Matt and Andrew moved to the bar to hang out (their words, but really to quaff with the audience) while everyone began moving around to chat about some rather unusual subjects, like childhood cruelty, for instance.

Somehow I was sucked into a discussion with a couple friends about giving Indian rug burns, a practice I had all but forgotten, but was a little appalled to hear about "swirling" (holding a kid upside down so his hair goes in the toilet) and how many kids it takes to manage this maneuver.

I ran into a musician I hadn't seen in months; turns out he'd moved north and that was why. He made my evening by telling me that he still reads my blog regularly to keep up with what's going on here. I couldn't have been more complimented.

Various groups of us also discussed all the music of the past few days, as well as what's upcoming. Despite, or perhaps because of, the holidays, we're in a really great run of shows right now.

If this keeps up, every day will be fun day. Wouldn't that be a lovely thing?