Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rain, Rain, Pelt Away

I couldn't bear the thought of missing the rain.

Because I had plenty of indoor plans for the evening, I made sure I got to be outside when it began to rain.

That put me parked at Fountain Lake with the car windows partially down, the white noise of the fountain competing with the more precise sound of the rain hitting the car roof.

Interestingly enough, I could see the rain hitting the lake, but couldn't hear it over the other sounds.

But after the week's heat, I was more than willing to feel the rain. Getting wet sounded good.

There were no more than a half dozen other cars parked along the lake. Did they get caught there and have to wait it out?

Or had they come there intentionally, like me, to enjoy the rain on the lake?

I'll never know.

From Byrd Park to Selba, I then went to check out yet another new Richmond restaurant, my fourth this week.

Walking in, I was glad I'd arrived before sundown. The beautiful skylights allowed waning sunlight to illuminate the beams and ceiling details.

The bar was bustling and the bartender was being pre-emptive, warning people that others were in front of them. Luckily, it didn't seem like anyone was in a hurry.

Food was everywhere, being passed and on tables for the taking.

Before I knew it, I'd had turkey meatloaf, vegetarian spring rolls with ponzu sauce, smoked salmon, mushroom tart, pork loin, panzanella, crabcake and raspberry truffles (yes, plural).

Twice I was told that everything was an abbreviated version of something on the regular menu, so we were tasting a good variety tonight.

Of course, the hook with Selba is the garden room, a conservatory/botanical garden-like room with extensive plantings of flowers, herbs and greenery.

It sits under extensive windows and looks beautiful. Unfortunately, the air conditioning was still set on heat wave and it was freezing in there.

Usually such gardens are a tad warm and the overwhelming scent of plants and flowers dominate, but tonight the low temperature kept all fragrance at bay.

The garden room would have been perfection except for the presence of two large flat screens (as a guy said to me, "Are they trying to make that beautiful space feel like s sports bar with those screens?"), which detracted from the overall vibe.

Screens aside, it's a truly beautiful and relaxing space while the front bar area is lively and hip.

I ran into a few people I knew and then, unexpectedly, into a local sous chef. I didn't recognize him at first because he was totally out of context.

He, on the other hand, greeted me with, "Hi! You're Karen, right?" Well done.

It was great fun to encounter someone else there alone and chat about the new space and other up and coming newbies.

But after a couple of hours, I had plans to head to Capital Ale House for music.

Two of my favorite local indie bands were playing a free show and that's irresistible on a Saturday night.

Ilad had just started when I arrived and listening to the first few songs, I realized it had been a while since I'd heard them last (they don't play out often).

There was a lot of new music I hadn't heard before, the overall sound was less rock-like and Cameron was doing a lot more singing.

When the audience was given a choice of two songs, only me and one other guy voted our preference.

"This is a democracy," Cam said. "They outnumbered you naysayers." So the two of us got our song.

I've been a big fan of Ilad for years. Gabe Churray's keyboards add a truly unique element to their sound.

I see the project as an outlet from Scott and Cam's other bands, which tend to lean more in the jazz direction. Ilad is more about soul and rocking and they excelled at both tonight.

The best thing for me about going to a Marionette show, besides hearing the band's genre-bending sound, is getting to see my friends in the band.

Marshall solicited my opinion of onstage drinking, Keith kindly insisted on buying me another tequila, Kevin asked why he hadn't seen me at the National lately, and Adam, well, Adam and discussed a whole lot of things.

Like why he's so touchy about 90s music (his age), the hazards of falling in love to Death Cab for Cutie (he did) and how being hot can make a musician play harder (ahem).

When their set finally began, it was with the band making noises of all kinds, blowing plastic flutes, drummer Kevin on guitar and guitarist Adam beating on the back of his guitar.

That cacophony is the prelude to a set of ambitious indie music that hangs together in a way less-experienced bands can only wish for.

Despite the late start, a good part of the crowd hung around, many of them obviously Marionette fans, like me.

But I'm guessing that, unlike me, they didn't stat their evening sitting in the car with the windows down, listening to the glorious sound of rain falling.

There's music and then there's music.

I heard the best kinds tonight, natural and man-made.

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