Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

There can never be too many things to do on a Monday night.

So when I discover at 5:00 that there's an interesting-sounding show at 6:00, I do what any red-blooded music lover would.

I looked up their Bandcamp page and listened online.

And then headed down to Globehopper for Brooklyn's The Sky Captains of Industry.

And you know what we got? Crosby, Stills and Nash for the 21st century.

Three stellar voices, two guitars and a bass, drop-dead harmonies and some of the funniest, most literate lyrics sung around here lately.

The songs I'd heard online had been a full band, but honestly, I liked their drum-less versions even better.

In addition to the band's repertoire, we also heard some solo work by the guys, including Jasper's "High Strung Poets," a song that made me wish I knew one.

"Dog Eat Dog," with its memorable lyric, "They got dog eat dog kind of faces" got our attention while the scant crowd carried on.

And by that, I mean there was one girl on a laptop, one on her phone pretending to study and one who alternated between his phone and his laptop.

I was embarrassed for Richmond.

It's hard to convey the innate pleasure of "Love Shark," but maybe the lyrics will help: "Love shark, I still feel your bite, It keeps me up at night."

Their beautifully (and different) melodious voices were shown to advantage on "Atomic Red," before bass player Don played guitar and did his song "Out Like a Lamb" with its memorable "Could been worse, Coulda been struck in a tree."

"This is our only song about alchemy," guitarist E.W, said about the song "Alchemist," singing, "Please turn my lead heart to gold."

Yes, all the lead hearts should be turned to gold and it would be a better world, wouldn't it?

Guitarist Jasper did another song so like Darden Smith as to give me flashbacks to 1992.

The trio had such great chemistry on top of their musical chops that I kept wishing the place was packed.

Fortunately, a few more people straggled in over the course of their set, but the place should have been packed throughout.

One guy who did stop by was Justin with whom they claimed they'd played in various permutations.

He hugged E.W. before bassist Don teased, "I don't get a hug? I wore my cardigan for you!"

And he had (very dashingly) and it was over a black t-shirt saying, "Keep Calm and Carry On."

Them's words to live by.

As the evening progressed, just as I thought I'd decided which voice was my favorite or which musician's playing got my ear, they'd do another song and someone else would sing and my favorite would change.

Jasper and E.W. did "99-Cent Dream," a song about not having a job, a car or a girl with Justin singing background vocals.

Let's just say the lyrics involved looking for a job sweeping sand off the beach.

Someone near me indicated a desire to get that job, too.

"Rocket City" was the purest form of bubblegum pop, foreshadowing the high-pitched "Crocodile Rock"-like "la, la, la, la, la, las" that inevitably came.

It was so satisfying when they did come that I almost wanted a cigarette.

Their last song got off to a memorable start when guitarist Jasper assumed a caballero-like pose against the nearby wall and bassist Don took on vocals.

Jasper's pose allowed him to look soulful while soloing against the wall.

"Come on, climb aboard, We're headed to the stars."

It was beautiful. Their voices would have knocked the socks off any number of folky singers I know in RVA.

I only hope they come back so more people hear about the show in time to check out their layered voices, fine musicianship and clever songwriting.

Or if they want to come back and play another practically private show for me, I'm okay with that, too.

It just seems like a waste given how much people I know would like these guys.

That said, it was all over by 8:00, so we moved across town to Stuzzi for $2 pizza night.

There is no better deal in town than that true Neapolitan-style pizza baked in 90 seconds.

Washed down with Montepulciano and the owner's opinions on the NYC and RVA dining scenes, it was just right after wine and folk at a coffee shop.

Dessert was zuppa Inglaise, with rum-soaked cake and enough cream to make up for the absence of chocolate.

To bookend the evening, we left Stuzzi for Balliceaux and the RVA Big Band's weekly gig.

Surprisingly, when we arrived only 14 of the 17 musicians were playing.

Sure, they sounded good, but what was up?

Before long, the tiny woman who plays baritone sax showed up and took her place at the end of the front row of saxes.

Before long, a familiar face sauntered in and the bandleader announced, "Bryan Hooten has arrived."

The trombonist took a seat in the second row, found his place and eventually added his well-honed chops to the mix.

It was a good crowd tonight, maybe four dozen at its peak, but a lot of enthusiasm and attention from the crowd.

At one point, the guy next to me and I struck up a chat and he turned out to be a singer for Virginia Opera, in town for a performance.

We agreed that we were hearing some swingin' music tonight, albeit from the back banquette.

But with sixteen instruments playing (they remained guitar-less all night), there's a lot of sound washing over you and that's what we were there for.

But then, I'd climbed aboard and headed to the stars hours earlier.

You're knocking my socks off here, Monday. Keep it up.

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