Thursday, April 4, 2013

Not a Lackluster Life

If variety is the spice of life, today had some well-seasoned flavor.

The first was Portuguese.

Renowned fado singer Ana Moura was giving a talk and performance at UR this afternoon.

And while you might think only under-employed writers have the time to catch something like that at 3:00 on a weekday, I walked in to all kinds of familiar faces.

In fact, after waiting close to half an hour with no sign of Ana, the musician sitting behind me observed, "Guess we're starting at jazz thirty, huh?"

Seems Ana and her two guitar players (one in distinctive pointy-toed black leather shoes and the other in Chucks, one with  a green shoelace and one with a red shoelace) had been delayed in transit, but eventually they appeared.

She began by explaining how the Portuguese are emotional people who like to share their feelings.

"We like to look out at the sea and we have all Europe on our back," she said in her delightfully fractured English.

The laments of the women whose men went off to sea became fado.

We got a lesson in the 12-string Quimbra guitar (as opposed to the Lisbon guitar), a lute-looking instrument that goes hand in hand with fado.

As such, she explained, the voice poses the question and the guitar is the answer.

I'm sure everyone in the room, like me, was looking forward to heating Ana sing after the talk but she begged off, claiming to be exhausted by all her travel.

To be fair, she did have a performance at the Modlin Center tonight, but come on, you can't sing one song for all the people who showed up to see you?

Instead, the classical guitarist and the Quimba guitar each sang some fado for us.

If longing is killing me
I have to have a long life to die of longing

That's fado for you.

Of all unlikely sequels, my next stop was Steady Sounds for basement band the Ar-Kaics.

Waiting for them to set up, I revisited the '80s via a bin of 12" singles and talked to an old rocker about Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren before the music cranked up to 11.

Fortunately, it was soon adjusted, leaving our ears only bleeding slightly and the vocals audible at last.

The trio had a blond-banged girl drummer who added a nice counterpoint to the two guitarists shredding and singing.

I noticed a friend sneak out toward the end of the first song but most of the crowd was enjoying themselves, bopping enthusiastically in place.

They certainly weren't breaking any ground musically or lyrically, but their '60s garage band sound gave my ears a workout after the delicate sounds of fado.

When they finished, the drummer pulled out a peach cardigan to cover her arms now that they weren't getting a workout.

Foul Swoops, the band I'd come to see had, like Ana, gotten stuck in traffic, so we never saw them at all.

Such are the hazards of trying to get to Richmond sometimes, as I'd seen twice in a day.

Because of the late start, by the time the in-store performance was over, it was time to head to Scott's Addition to grab dinner and go to the theater.

Lunch had only one other table occupied when we walked in and 45 minutes later all but one two-top was accounted for.

I usually go for pig at Lunch but after chicken and waffles for lunch, I was in the mood for something else.

The crab nebula sandwich with sriracha mayo on a kaiser roll was just the ticket and after an exhausting afternoon of music, I devoured it in no time.

As always, the soundtrack was exactly right for the moment, in this case vintage R & B, as the sun dipped lower in the sky and I was finally able to remove my sunglasses.

Sadly, there wasn't time for Coca Cola cake because we had a curtain to make.

Richmond Triangle Players was previewing "The Pride" tonight and offering an enticing $10 ticket price.

Even better, the ticket seller asked for my seat preference and when I jokingly said "front row," handed them over like it was no big deal.

And to every theater company in town, I say never doubt the pull of a dirt-cheap ticket to suck in those of us on a limited budget.

"The Pride" was a compelling (and prize-winning) story about the changing attitudes toward sexuality told alternately in 1958 and 2008.

In much the same way that it would have sucked to have been a woman in the pre-birth control era, it clearly sucked to be gay before, say, 1971 when the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

I don't honestly believe there is such a thing as a lackluster life

It was a four-actor play that required strong performances out of all four and did they ever deliver.

I was impressed with Steve Rice's physicality, whether he was drunkenly trying to climb off the floor and onto the couch or being thrown down on the floor by his lover.

My boyfriend broke up with me and this time it's for real. He took his records.

Nicholas Aliff was heartbreaking as the conflicted man afraid to admit his feelings for another man, making it doubly sweet when, at the end, he finally takes the hand of the man he loves.

Coming onstage in a killer red satin dress, Stacie Reardon Hall perfectly nailed the woman who in 1958 is married to a closet gay man as well as the 2008 best friend he turns to when his love life goes south.

Do you believe in change?

And Evan Nasteff, well, where do I start?

Touchingly hurt as a Nazi/S & M role player for hire, hysterical as a journalist talking about his gay uncle and terrifying as a doctor about to use "aversion therapy" to cure a man of his homosexuality, he was a man for all scenes.

And while the themes of the play were heavy, they were leavened with great dialog about gays ("You guys were innovators, what with fashion and outdoor sex"), straights ("They're not bad people, maybe a bit unimaginative") and boyfriends ("He writes his own songs, he has a guitar and he reads!").

The play portrayed such interesting conflicts and human issues that by the end all I could think about was Richmond Triangle Players' motto, "If we didn't do it, who would?"

Who else would have finished off my day with terrific spicy flavor?

And, yes, I believe in change.

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