Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Plein Air Richmond

My pink tank top gave me away.

I wore pink because it was "highly encouraged" for the annual Carytown rose crawl, always a highlight of June.

Festivities began at C Street where I found a pierced and bearded friend serving and opted for the Muga Rose, which tasted of strawberry and rhubarb, much like the pie I'd had on Father's Day.

Sitting on the patio, my friend and I were a tad warm, but the rose went down easily and we chatted up strangers for entertainment.

Before we knew it, we were herded to Amour for stop number two. Wisely, my friend and I were in the first wave, ensuring that we got prime bar seats at Amour.

It was a wise decision. Not only did they have pink menus (nice touch!) but flights and "perfect food pairings."

That would be business as usual at Amour.

Why settle for single pours when you can get three pours, we wondered, ordering two flights and two pairings.

Bieler Pere et Fills had pale color and a crisp finish, Domaine du Pere Caboche was bigger with flavors of strawberry (my friend's favorite of the flight) and Chateau de Valcombe was a beautifully balanced pink.

While we shared stories of high school and mothers, we noshed on bleu cheese melted on baguettes with apple slices (divine) and smoked salmon mousse on cucumber (silky, smokey mouthfeel).

When we finally moved on from Amour to head to Secco, we were delayed by artists painting en plein air along Cary Street.

I'd seen several more on Monument Avenue yesterday and I'm excited to see painters working outdoors everywhere I go.

Walking into Secco, we were easily the last rose crawlers to arrive.

Slow and steady wins the race, my friends.

No matter because we found a spot near the back door and ordered Domaine Brazilier Coteaux du Ventomois, a lovely orange wine which my friend nailed as smelling like peanuts.

There were so many people to talk to: the friend who'd recently seen the Lumineres, the one who'd challenged the guard at the Naval Observatory, the couple who gave me top prize for wearing pink top to bottom.

I'm not certain if it was the array of conversational partners or the endless rose, but all of a sudden I asked the time and realized I had places to be.

An hour ago.

Good thing Richmond's a small town.

Moments later, I was at the Firehouse for the Listening Room, sliding into my seat in time to hear Up the Chain.

Cupid, don't lay down your weary bones.

"This song is called "Something New" and it's just that," the lead singer told us.

We'll stick around and see it through.

I especially liked what the keyboard added to their Philly folk sound.

After their set, I made the rounds to say hello, taking a few moments to score some Dixie Donuts since there were so many laid out for the crowd.

That German chocolate doughnut is worth whatever it does to my body for the dense, rich chocolate cake and icing under the coconut and nut topping.

I teased the photographer, usually late to any music event, who reminded me that he has to be on time for the Listening Room, unlike some of us.

My Old Ways was a Richmond super group of sorts, comprised of member of various bands I've seen.

I need a sign.

Pedal steel looked to be from David Schultz and the Skyline, the singer from Palominos and the drummer, well, I'll just quote the singer about Will, the drummer.

"Raise your hand if you've ever played in a band with Willis," he laughed.

Hands were raised. Lots of hands.

So far, the band had played only one show, at the Ghost of Pop back in December, but tonight was their CD release show.

"This is a song about Jesus," the singer said. "The cool one, not the one who makes everyone feel shitty."

Ohhh, that Jesus.

We got love, but you got logic.

The lead singer was waxing poetic about Richmond, saying, "I recently moved from here," resulting in a few boos for his questionable choice.

"What a wonderful city this is. I hope you're enjoying It, riding your bike in the Fan and drinking a beer on someone's porch. And make sure you go out and see some live music."

It's always satisfying to hear someone remind us how good we've got it. I never forget, but I know some people lose sight of that fact.

I just want to dance.

After their brief set, a girlfriend came over with an "a-ha!" look on her face.

"I know where you've been!" she said, pointing. "You were at the rose crawl!"

Drat! How had she known?

"Your pink top," she said with the satisfaction of a super sleuth.

I admitted as much and asked what especially great things I'd missed with my tardiness.

"Brad Hinton yodeled," she said, knowing how jealous I'd be. "Twice! It was so awesome."

So that about summed it up.

I sold out yodeling for rose.

On the plus side, the pinks were outstanding, the company clever and companionable and the painting en plein air an unexpected pleasure.

But as advised, I always make sure I go out and see some live music.

It's just my (old) way.

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