Saturday, February 12, 2011

Woody's Inn and Black Girls

It's because of David Lowery that I drank the one and only beer of my life.

Think mid-90s at the Flood Zone, my date was late meeting me at the Cracker show and the only thing they served was beer. But I was going to wait for the band whether he showed or not, so I killed time with a beer, cementing a life-long distaste for it. But I digress.

Tonight I went to Plan 9 to hear that very same David Lowery do an in-store performance to promote his new CD, "The Palace Guards." Before he sang the title song, he explained that it began as a kid's song about superheroes and became something quite sinister.

"It's not the Cartoon Network kind of superheroes, more like the adult swim kind of superheroes," he clarified perfectly.

He was in fine voice and the crowd was made up of what looked to be long-time fans, including several women I heard commenting on how different and/or great he looked. Old groupies die hard, it would seem.

The music continued at Sprout, where band photographer extraordinaire PJ Sykes was spinning tonight. When I walked in, he was alone in the back room, working the vinyl hard and obviously enjoying himself.

Although I'd come to hear him DJ, I'd also come to eat, so I found a stool at the bar, opened my Moody Blues album menu cover and decided on the house salad and the Sprout free-range beef sliders with cheddar.

Local greens made for an incredibly fresh-tasting salad and the sliders are already legendary for a reason. Free-range beef is so noticeably better tasting that one friend swears that Sprout's sliders qualify as the best burger in town. Savoring mine, I'm inclined to agree.

Next I ordered a glass of Seaview Syrah and was forced to listen to the dessert choices. And while I wasn't the least bit hungry after the salad and sliders, I also wasn't the least inclined to ignore the chocolate truffle cake.

"Mmm, with a glass of red wine that sounds like heaven," my server opined. Don't I know it. Meanwhile, I was loving PJ's record choices, although I recognized very few artists. In a perfect world, I'd have had a set list so I could find out who I was hearing for future musical researching.

But my eyes were bigger than my stomach, so I ended up eating only part of the cake (that would be the parts with the icing attached), causing her to chide me when she took the plate away. "You didn't eat very much of it," she said. "All the good parts," I countered.

Too full to move, naturally that was the moment a friend came over and suggested I join their table and since I'm constitutionally unable to resist the offer of conversation, I moved.

There were four of them, so I got to chat with one about the power of dimples ( a friend of hers was told by a guy, "I want to f*ck your dimples" because they were so impressive) and with another about the rhythms of vacationing at the beach ("And when you want to take a nap, you just lay down and do it," he marveled).

I had to excuse myself around 10:30 (my friend Dave saying, "You always over-commit." Too true that) to check out a show at a venue new to me, Woody's Inn on Cary Street. I knew the place, having driven by it hundreds of times, but it was to be my first time inside.

It was every bit as old-school as I expected it to be. Low ceilings, a bar that looked straight out of a 70s rec-room and patterned carpet everywhere. But the crowd was enthusiastic, the staff welcoming and the music just beginning and that's what really mattered.

Precious Fluids, a duo of very young brothers played first, surprising me by covering the Misfits (and even did a brief snatch of Ratt for a friend in the audience) but also playing original material.

Their self-proclaimed surf song "Aloha" had the fast drumming and surf guitar sound you'd expect from a song with that title. I have to guess that they started writing songs in middle school.

Playing second was the Nervous Ticks, tonight a duo rather than a trio because their tambourine player had been in a moped accident. No jokes, please. They carried on without him, but he was there in spirit, perhaps in the tambourine resting on an upturned metal bucket used by the drummer.

As you might guess by their name, the music was hard and fast, with few songs lasting more than two minutes. A lot of the vocals bordered on scream-o but were still fairly melodic. I'm betting it was the first time they'd played a room with acoustic ceiling tile and carpeting to soften their sound.

From Woody's retro but fun vibe (you should have seen the over-the-knee gold boots on the girl coming in as I left) , it was back to Sprout because I wanted to catch the Black Girls' show, as did an awful lot of other people, all of who were crammed into the restaurant when I returned. Best of all, Dave was still there, so I had excellent conversational and musical company for the evening.

And then there were the Black Girls, a group of white boys (I wouldn't make that up) playing 70s-influenced glammy campy music. The crowd was into it from the first notes, standing on chairs, dancing, swaying and, yes, doing the bump. I know because I saw it with my own eyes.

Dave, the musician, described their music as fun; I found it fun and intensely campy. They pulled from vintage 70s stuff as disparate as Queen and KC & the Sunshine Band, but they also borrowed from current sounds like Scissor Sisters and the indie dance beats of Modest Mouse. The girl with the gold boots would have fit in perfectly for this show.

Can you tell I enjoyed it? Dave was right, it was fun music (good music to be drunk and listening to, he also said), even if everything I heard could be traced back to somebody else (which is exactly what I love about current bands). And you've got to love a lead singer who can do a falsetto.

The last song was about being dumped, with a refrain of "You are going to be so sorry for what you did to me." After singing it a few times, the lead singer shouted to the audience, "Let me hear your singing voices" and Dave belted it out beautifully next to me.

It's great to hang out with talent when you're at a show.


  1. just caught the tale end of the dave lowery set. had been up at elwoods listening to two guys play.. one on vibes, other on an electric gibson. they were covering a milt jackson tune when i left.. hestitated.. they were pretty good. however plan nine called.. you were on the right...alone. my wife and i snuck in pass you. it's ok..we jus' want to listen... a bit of nostalgia mingling with the present..camper von beethoven hits middle age..." old men of Rock n' Roll".. it was good to see so many in a record store...youth in their eye, age in their souls. our peers, generational, out on a friday eve, enjoying one anothers' company... couples, married or not, a dad and his daughter, singles.. all together at least for the moment. soon to go their separate ways.[cw]

  2. I was on the right, checking out all the interesting-looking, music-loving guys in the store.

    But I digress...

  3. Woody's used to be a Black Club or hang out. marina & i would be the only whites in there at the time, [spring of '93]. we 'd do suck face & order toast and "blue motorcycles." a beautiful drink with who knows' what's in it. always a jazz, R & b crowd there.. same with the music & vibe... a nice time.

  4. A friend had a very large drink involving a little cranberry juice and a lot of a mystery ingredient last night, but I'm not sure it had a name.

    I'd like to be in Woody's when the crowd was as big and boisterous as it was at Sprout last night. I'm just not sure I can pull off the thigh-high gold boot look.

  5. a) it was (a lot of) vodka and cranberry (not mine)
    b) I am working on a show for Woody's that will bring in just such a big, boisterous crowd, and I'd appreciate it if, just for this one show, you'd wear
    c) thigh-high gold boots

  6. Let's have Woody's call that a "Red Moped" in tribute to last night's absent tambourine player, shall we?

    Maybe you should call the show "Boots for Bands" and ask all the girls to wear their most impressive boots. I'm just one pair of legs. Go for the whole enchilada.

  7. I like the way you think. And enchiladas.

  8. The way I think could be considered my greatest asset.