Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Something Comes from Nothing

Perhaps I should be concerned.

It's gotten to the point where my birthday celebrating is being acknowledged by complete strangers.

But friends, too. And it was with a very good longtime friend that I spent a few cocktail hours at Rowland.

She came bearing a perfect gift: pink bubbles (Casas del Mar Rose) and loads of stories about her recent trip to NYC, the orgy going on in her backyard this past weekend and her legacy (not at all what she thinks it will be).

Over a nice dry white Bordeaux, we snacked on some of the $5 happy hour appetizers including the butterbean cake and the pork schnitzel with a soft-cooked egg and tomatillo sauce.

Since we weren't first-timers at Rowland's happy hour, I was pleased to see that they change up their happy hour offerings.

Well, except the signature butterbean cake which should never leave the menu, if you ask me.

As we went to leave, a white-haired woman at a table spoke to me. "Happy birthday! Keep celebrating!"

Don't worry, I assured her, I do this all month long.

"You should! Enjoy it!" she said grinning ear to ear as her companion nodded.

How did they even know?

Honestly, I get the best stranger talk.

From there I went to the Belvidere for burgers (my quintessential birthday meal) with a different crew and, this time the chatter revolved around music (Grimes, St. Vincent and new Sigur Ros) and old friends (like Ben, the master of the one-liner).

It was especially interesting because we had three Geminis at the table, so although only four chairs were occupied, there were at least seven personalities present.

Invite us and it's an instant party.

Eventually the birthday revelry ended and I made it to the Camel for music to finish out my evening.

The first person I saw was Matt from Goldrush and he had an amusing story to share about a mutual friend who had called him out about they way a classical piece was listed in the symphony's program.

Seems that after giving Matt, who plays with the symphony and is their librarian, a hard time (deservedly, he admitted) he brought up my name (to show they had something in common, I guess).

I was less interested in that than the cigarette Matt had behind his ear since he's a non-smoker.

Seems it was about their absent drummer. "It's my tribute to Greg Butler," he informed me.

I'd have asked what happened to Greg but Matt was off for a beer, so I made my way to the front.

I'd heard such good things about The Hill and Wood and I loved that they'd named their band after a Charlottesville funeral home.

It took no time at all for me to hear what the buzz was about.

TH&W straddled that line between folk and chamber pop with well-written songs, male/female harmonies, keyboards and, for a few songs, the lovely addition of a horn.

"This is such a special occasion that we brought along our trumpet player," lead singer Sam said.

As an unabashed fan of what horns add to chamber pop or electro-folk or whatever TH&W are, I was sorry when the trumpet player left the stage after a few songs.

"Is everyone okay?" Sam asked. "Can we get you anything?"

A longer set maybe? A crowd that shuts the hell up so people like me or the music-loving friends I ran into tonight could actually hear the beautiful music the band was making?

No such luck so I moved in closer for their outstanding cover of "The Good Thing" by Talking Heads.

A straight line exists between me and the good things
I have found the line and its direction is known to me

For their last song, Sam asked plaintively, "If it's possible, we would love for you to listen."

I know I'm spoiled by the Listening Room, but should a musician really have to say that?

Sadly, yes, but fortunately they'll be playing the Listening Room in July so at least I can count on hearing every note then.

After the break ("More violin in the monitor!" is not something you hear everyday), the lights dimmed and singer Prabir of Goldrush yelled, "Welcome to the future!" as they began their set with a different Greg drumming.

I watched as Matt's head bobbed frantically as he played upright bass, the cig never budging from its lodging behind his ear.

Now that's a professional.

Because I've seen Goldrush many times, I was happily surprised to hear lots of new material, although violinist Treesa (looking adorable in her cute skirt and sweater) admitted that playing so many new songs made her nervous.

Prabir cured his nervousness his way. "If I could just get a shot of tequila, that would help a lot," he said mid-set to no one in particular and it was delivered not long after.

And consumed in short order.

It must have helped because they were smooth as glass for "Kiss and Make Up" to close their set and end my evening.

Friends, food, wine, music.

What was I worried about? I've got no reason to be concerned.

It's a straight line to the good things.

Okay, as straight as a Gemini gets.


  1. When I got TH&W's CD, the singer thanked me for LISTENING to them. It's a shame more people didn't listen as well.

  2. It was tragic.

    Considering how talented they were, you'd have thought more people would have stopped blabbing and started listening.

    I can't wait to see them at the Listening Room where people are required to shut the hell up.