Friday, March 30, 2012

Wanna Be Starting Something

I have been thanked in the liner notes of two albums, but I have never been heard on a recording.

After a sufficient amount of bubbly, that was corrected tonight.

At the suggestion of my wine-making friend, we went to Mezzanine to hang out and discuss life.

A bottle of Thibaud Janisson Virginia Fizz had our name on it and we enjoyed our first glasses with the addition of enough Pama to make for a pretty and pink cocktail.

As we discussed the recent spate of Southern-themed restaurants, we snacked on tempura-fried local mushrooms which had been brought in by the purveyor today after a morning gathering trip in the woods.

They were lightly battered and fried and accompanied by a local kale, apple and onion saute.

We were happily wallowing in local.

Over talk of the safety hazards of bottling bubbly, we enjoyed braised beef short ribs with Byrd Mill grits (thank you, Ashland) and hoison jus.

I'm a sucker for short ribs, long cooked and with bits of fat clinging to the meat, while the grits benefited from the addition of cheese.

Our last course was crispy fried barcat oysters, making for a completely local pairing. It is, after all, Virginia Wine and Dine month.

Not to mention ideal with our Fizz.

Walking back to our cars, we chatted about Charlottesville restaurants and the necessity of music to feed one's soul.

You know, the usual stuff people talk about when they're walking through Carytown.

I'd had to cut our evening short because I'd agreed to be part of a recording session tonight.

Let me be clear, it's not like anyone wanted to hear me sing but fortunately singing ability was not a prerequisite.

Walking up to Gallery 5 a few minutes late, I saw Lobo Marino bandleader Jameson out front talking to a few people.

Whew. So the recording wasn't underway, I was happy to see.

"We wouldn't start without you," he grinned, warning me that I'd have to remove my shoes when I got upstairs.

Once up there, I took off my very disco era-looking rope wedges and found a spot on the floor near other barefoot friends.

The shoeless Lobo Marino took their places by their instruments, explaining that they'd been laying down tracks since noon today.

Jameson began by reading us the riot act, so to speak.

"This is now a live recording studio, so if you're the person who knocks over your drink and makes a noise, everyone will look at you."

No pressure.

Luckily my water bottle was plastic, so I wasn't worried about being the culprit.

For the first song, we  were asked to hum/sing a chant sound, even harmonize if we wanted to.

Like I could harmonize. As my Richmond grandmother used to tell me as a child, "Karen, you couldn't carry a tune in a bucket."

Sigh. It took years for me to realize how honest she was.

Even so, I om'd along with the group.

Things got more complicated for the next song, which began with the audience being divided into three groups, one to follow the vocals of each of the band members.

Thankfully, I was assigned to Nathaniel's group, meaning I sang the simplest melody.

Not that my singing mattered next to the amazing tribal-sounding drumming Jameson and Nathaniel were doing.

The beauty of it was the high ceilings and the reverb created in the space with our voices and all that percussion.

Three photographers documented the evening, shooting the band, the audience and the instruments from behind, above and the floor.

During a break between songs, Jameson informed us, "This is also part of the studio experience, just chillaxing."

I was actually quite good at that part.

The beautiful "Young and Old" provided the lyric about kites that gives the new album its name.

Then it happened. A beer bottle fell over.

"You know, on the first song of "Thriller," someone knocked something over but it was on the tempo and Quincy Jones said "Just leave it." So if anyone else knocks something over, do it on rhythm," Jameson informed us.

Our last assignment was to provide the crowd noise for the exit song which required nothing more than talking amongst ourselves.

I was a natural.

And then we were through, having provided all the extra sound needed to begin mixing the album.

Best of all, we'd done so in less time than expected.

As a reward, Lobo Marino did a couple of songs off the new album for us as a thank you.

"Celebrate," which boasted drum, trombone and harmonium, was such a great dance song that a few people in the crowd couldn't resist standing up and letting loose.

The song was so short I didn't have time to put my perfect dancing shoes back on and join in.

Too bad.

It would have made for a great picture of my legs celebrating in the liner notes next to my name.

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