Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Start With a Song

It was all about the ampersand at the Listening Room tonight.

Just for the record, that's thirty one listening rooms and I've only missed one.

The only hitch tonight was that despite my early arrival, an interloper was in my seat, but I adjusted easily by moving to the front row and carrying on.

Birds & Arrows, a band I first saw in September 2010, was on first, but minus their cello player.

"So we're missing the 'and," guitarist Andrea said, acknowledging that the trio was a duo tonight.

After the first song, she had to tune her guitar, causing drummer Pete to tease her, "You got all Pete Townsend on that song."

They sang several new songs, like the lovely  "Coyote," mentioning how nice it was for them to get to play songs they'd just learned.

Because the Firehouse Theater is currently staging "Rocky Horror Picture Show," there was a large cage onstage.

"Sorry our go-go dancer couldn't make it," Pete joked.

That's something I'd have killed to see at the Listening Room.

They closed with a  Peter Gabriel cover, but not before Andrea admitted she had begun working on another cover this afternoon with her ukulele.

"You know that song 'Josie's on a vacation far away'?" she asked rhetorically. "Pete's already tired of me practicing it, but it's one hell of a well-crafted pop tune."

For tonight, we heard their stellar cover of "San Jacinto," knowing next time it'll be the Outfield.

As a bonus, and at the end of their set, they kissed.

It may have been a Listening Room first.

Favorite lyric: "Safety can break your heart."

Before introducing Philly's Honey Watts, emcee Chris exhorted the crowd to buy listening room t-shirts by pointing to Jonathan and saying, "We have a lovely model."

Basically, Jonathan opened his button-down shirt and flashed his listening room t-shirt at us, but we got the idea.

The duo of Honey Watts featured guitarist Catfish, whom I remembered being impressed with last time I'd heard him.

I was tonight as well, as was a photographer friend who leaned in and told me how much he was loving the guitar sound.

When an audience member asked where the band's name had come from, vocalist Liz smiled.

"My mind," she said.

She went on to say, "Because of the other bands here, we're gonna be Honey and the Watts tonight. But I want to be the watts."

Favorite lyric: "Stars sent down little blueprints for our souls."

Last up was Charlottesville's The Hill and Wood, who began by saying, "We'll start with a song and get to know each other."

My favorite way to get to know someone.

I was lucky enough to already know them from a show at the Camel in May.

There I'd fallen for their chamber/folk pop, well-written songs, keyboards and girl/boy harmonies.

Tonight was just as good without the annoying drunk bar crowd.

In fact, leader Sam mentioned how intimidating it was to be playing for a rapt audience for a change.

"Shouldn't you guys be talking or something?" he said in jest.

No, we shouldn't, not when we could be listening to such well-crafted music, like the exquisite "First Time."

There was a song sung in rounds, overlapping vocals and showing the group's strength in having four singers.

"We're just gonna keep playing the hits," Sam said  before playing "The Call," and mentioning the new Brooklyn-made video for it.

All too soon, their set was over.

Favorite lyric: "I've been given the chance to give in all the way."

Personally, I'd been given the chance to hear three exceptional bands with a side of Dixie Donuts.

Considering that chance came after Lee's fried chicken and before a discussion of Henry Miller and Roald Dahl at Ballcieaux, I'd say the evening was a lovely model for how to savor a Tuesday night.

Not to mention that it satisfied a good part of my soul's blueprint.

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