Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Burgers with The Great Unknown

Folk on, Steady Sounds.

Once again, my neighborhood record store was hosting an early show (6:30) with no price tag. Happily the crowd was bigger than at the last one, including several friends and musicians.

The inimitable Jonathan Vassar led the charge with his repertoire of sad songs. When he asked for requests, I suggested happy songs, but, as I already knew, there are no such songs in his repertoire.

Luckily there are plenty of heartfelt songs about family, places and memories, all satisfying.

Philly's The Great Unknown played next, coming from an interview at WRIR and an afternoon at the river ("It's okay to swim in your river, right? Cause we would never swim in ours in Philly!").

Formerly a quartet and now a trio, these guys have beautifully harmonious voices, accompanied by guitar, upright bass and drum.

They sang a new song, a song that used lyrics written by school children and two songs on which the audience was asked to sing along. We did our best.

After the show, the band was looking for some company, so four of us suggested Patrick Henry's (hey, it was $3 burger night) for some food, drink and conversation (RVA as good host).

We pulled two tables together to accommodate the additional two who joined us, got a terrific server (who just happened to write a webzine) and began getting to know each other with the aid of beer, Coke and, for some of us, Patron.

The problem with burger night at Patrick Henry's is not the burgers (easily one of the most flavorful cheap burgers in town) but the array of options. Pineapple compote? Hot pepper jelly? Hmmm...

After the hilarious ordeal of ordering, made all the more so because someone would order, then hear the next person's choice and second guess their own order, we began noticing the music.

It was all over the place, but in a good way. The Shins, Van Morrison, classic blues, Beach Boys, the music spurred many music tangents, including one about the inanity of Van Halen vocals.

But we also had great conversation about Cuba and its future, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and other must-read authors, and goat-milking (the band having had their first experience doing so this morning).

One of the benefits of so much chatter was that none of us could inhale our burgers immediately, despite being starved by that point.

Two enormous baskets of "community" fries took a beating, but only after our burgers were history. We were that kind of hungry.

By then the smoking had started, infiltrating clothes and hair, as it inevitably does at Patrick Henry's.

We hung on for another hour, comparing shows and talking about the Listening Room, which they had played to great acclaim this past April. I expect them to wow again tomorrow night at Sprout.

Getting up to go, a girl at a nearby table told me how much she liked my skirt. I didn't tell her it had been chosen for its thin fabric, brief length and breezy nature, not as a fashion statement.

Walking outside was like walking into an oven and while I didn't complain about the heat, my driver did. Guys never seem to tolerate summer warmth  as well as girls.

What a difference a skirt makes.

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