Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Salty Salute: Tequila and Guided by Voices

What I know for sure (to paraphrase a recent Kennedy Center honoree):

a) That a bar that offers 52 tequilas should be on my regular route.

I hadn't been to the Whisky Grill and Smokehouse since the second week it was open and back then, they did not have an entire book detailing the liquors they carried. Now they do.

Sure, some of my favorites were there: Corazon, Don Julio, el Tesoro, as well as plenty new to me: Corrolejo, el Jimodor, Milagro.

Cielo Reposado, described as tasting of "toffee, cheese, dried cherry, brown spices and pineapple custard with a slightly tannic entry and a medium-full body that finishes with a long, okay, mint, cream and spice nuanced fade," delivered.

No chaser required.

It being Monday and all, they were out of the half chicken and the barbecue, so I had brisket (fatty bits included: yum) and beans (hot, hearty and belly-warming) and discussed with my server why drummers come home from being on tour in such great shape, why juice fasts are worth it and what RVA has over LA.

b) That you didn't have to be a music fan in the 90s to appreciate a Guided by Voices tribute, but tonight's show was a huge treat for those of us who were. And on a Monday night, too. The crowd was enthusiastic and clearly full of fans come to hear some of a favorite band's music.

For fans of indie music since there was such a thing, GBV's lo-fi pop was the best-kept secret around.

The amazing part was that there were enough GBV fans among Richmond's current crop of musicians to do a tribute show (enthusiastically and drunkenly, as the invitation stated).

After taking the second best seat in the house, a friend came in and took the best one, directly next to me, so now I had music, a clear view and a musician friend with whom to enjoy the show.

Sadly, there was no Cielo Reposado in the house, but everything else was perfect.

Herschel Stratego and his ukulele made the most interesting commitment; while agreeing to perform, he also admitted that he didn't know of GBV before being asked.

But he did his research, resulting in a brief set that shared fun facts about the band and sampled some of their music. A for effort.

Climbers and Trillions used neither a ukulele nor humor, but more than did justice to several GBV songs, in all their poppy brevity.

Paul Ivey vs. Board of Education, if not GBV fans, had certainly done their homework and delivered a well-done set. Paul looked like he could have been one of GBV's fans from back in the day and he was an excellent interpreter of the sound.

The highlight for me was Snowy Owls' set because, although I'd fallen in love with their shoegaze sound online, I had yet to hear them live and Matt is one of my favorite music buddies (the kind who recommends bands he thinks I'll like and sends me links to check out after we talk).

Their drummer had approached me earlier to introduce himself, saying "I see you at every show I go to" which caused my friend and seatmate to say, "I bet you hear that all the time."

I bet I do and I consider it a compliment of the highest order (so much better than the unoriginal "hey, great legs!").

Once they finished, the crowd around me went wild. "Strong set!" one fan said, nodding in approval. These people were taking their GBV covers very seriously; it was really cute.

Adah's leader Jun had organized the show and they played last.

Their very passionate set included some fierce violin playing on the part of Jun, who ended by turning to his band and saying,

"We rehearsed one more, but I'm too tired." End of set...but understandable after what we'd just witnessed.

The crowd was in no hurry to leave, so people lingered and talked about the show and what might be next.

There's talk of this becoming a series of tribute shows to bands that matter. I heard Pavement thrown around as the likely next honoree, but several people made a strong case for Spoon.

Either way, I'm in.

Another thing I know for sure is c) that when the current generation is re-interpreting older music, I want to hear it (especially when they're doing it drunkenly and enthusiastically).

I might suggest a little indie nap so they don't get so tired next time, though.


  1. ...i'll give you credit..usually when i see snow i think of Jameson not tequila but then the lass is out there.."doing her own thing." me understands the nappy time for sure. think i saw the Snowy Owls at the Listening Room once...liked them a lot. So i'll agree with the current generation & enthusiasm...guess it's the drunkiness that's the variable. we all walk our own path...brisket sure would taste good about now...

  2. Credit appreciated. I don't drink whisky, so it's tequila I turn to when wine won't do.

    I go to all the Listening Rooms (it's the house joke), so are you sure you saw Snowy Owls there?

    As for the promised drunkeness last night, it never materialized. I think it was more of a mood they were trying to create with that invitation.

    The bands were way too into doing GBV justice to take the stage tipsy! But the enthusiasm of both musicians and audience was palpable, so they got that right.

  3. you nailed last night, it was an awesome show for sure!! next time invite me to meet you for the brisket and tequila first and it'll be even better!cielo? never heard of it but always willing to try...some things!!

  4. You just bever know who's going to be a brisket and tequila fan!

  5. Yep, you just never know..

    ...funny, been to 2/3's of the Listening Room events...missed that joke, [in-house]. ...Guess I'm out of the loop... have to check with Chris and the boys..see what I'm missing? Snowy Owls not in attendance?... oh well!! ... might have them confused with Colloquial Orchestra.. love Watkins stuff. Too much java at Saint James..."AA Stuff" ..gotta talk to the rector.."oh father..confusion has its' costs."..dunno.. holiday season...so be it..never patronized the Whiskey Grill... more of a Commercial Tap house soul... i should give it a try..thanks..we learn from each other.

  6. I was guessing you were talking about the Colloquial Orhcestra, a personal favorite of mine.

    I'm also a big Dave Watkins fan; in fact, he was my partner-in-crime for last night's GBV show.

    I usually reserve Taphouse for Glows in the Dark shows. Ribs and free jazz: a match made in heaven.

    Still trying to learn everywhere I can...