What could be more fitting than a Christmas party in a stable?
Okay, former stable, but you get the idea. The invitation came from a couple whose loft is part of the former Richmond dairy stables across from the milk bottle building.
And although we see each other out all the time, it was my first time inside the home they created out of a blank canvas of a space.
The ceilings were incredibly high and only the guest bathroom had a lowered ceiling. Otherwise, walls between rooms were 8' high and ceiling-less.
The host's "beer sculpture," an elaborate stainless steel beer brewing station with a separate fermentation tank full of his latest brew, sat next to a grand piano.
All of the art, he told me, was "from the 'hood." Old photographs of J-Ward in the '30s lined one wall.
There was even a daybed in the kitchen for enjoying the afternoon sun.
It was the perfect backdrop for a mix of interesting people to get to know each other.
I met a couple who had been homesteaders in the Ward, having put their offices here long before most people chose to be anywhere near this part of town.
They've since moved to bigger spaces across the river, but I didn't hold that against them.
A woman tried to convince me of the benefits and fun of the Navy SEAL classes she does daily.
Not my idea of fun.
A Colorado transplant explained her confusion when first faced with spoonbread when she moved here. Even her Georgia-born mate didn't know it till coming here.
I may have been raised further north but I did have a Richmond grandmother, so unlike her, I always knew spoonbread.
Meanwhile, I talked to party-goers about kite surfing, the demise of Kluge winery and how confusing UR's campus can be.
When I finally left the festivities, it was to go to a show at the Camel that was billed as starting on time.
And it almost did, especially for a Camel show.
It was the very first gig for Mermaids, I mean Whales, a one man act with somber songs and a room full of friends and family.
After two very sad-sounding songs, he said, "I'm going to take it down a notch." Down where?
He said he'd set a goal to play one cover song at every show he plays and tonight's was "Sixteen Tons," a song he'd heard his parents sing as a child.
It'll be interesting to see what he covers in future shows.
Moonbees played next and it was my first time hearing them, despite having heard good things about them.
Somewhat psychedelic and very melodic, I loved the harmonies of three male voices singing together.
They sang a song "We Are the Moonbees," as if to brand us with their name, although I can't imagine anyone who heard them would forget them or their name.
By the time headliners Lobo Marino got ready to play, the crowd was a good size but very talkative.
Lobo Marino was playing without mics and on the floor in front of the stage. They formed a semi-circle of chairs around them for anyone who wanted to hear.
You know I promptly took one of those chairs.
Beginning with two Christmas songs, "We Three Kings" and "Silent Night," they tried their hardest to be heard over the noisy crowd.
After those songs, horn and banjo player Nathaniel thanked the crowd for coming out and hanging around.
"I've been working fifteen hour days on the 'Lincoln' movie and I really didn't want to come here tonight," he admitted. "But now seeing all of you, I'm glad to be here."
He may have spoken too soon since the audience never really quieted down appropriately given that we were listening to folk music without mics, but what can you do?
Note to self: Karen, not everyone goes to a music show to listen.
Excuse me, what?