Sunday, April 7, 2013

Stepping Out

It was a low-key night to stay in the neighborhood and see old friends.

Deciding to start at Bistro 27 because I hadn't yet heard Chef Carlos' tales of his recent trip to Paris, I was regaled with details about a dish of pig stomach wrapped in prosciutto and deep-fried.

Be still, my heart.

While he told me of drinking endless Cahors while there (well, he is Brazilian so Malbec's practically in his blood), I went with a Pinot Noir.

I was surprised (although apparently not as surprised as the Parisians) to hear that they'd had snow while he was there.

While hearing his recounting of exquisite sculpture, the tiniest of French bistros and a side trip to Dusseldorf, my companion and I moved on to eating.

There was halibut bobo, a take-off on his mother's recipe for shrimp bobo, delivering succulent, perfectly-cooked halibut in the distinctive sauce of yucca root puree, coconut milk and palm oil, a dish with a decided African influence.

I reveled in the oil and garlic-cooked broccolini, along with bacon-wrapped scallops and lentils (easily my favorite lentils in town) and a taste or two of pappardelle bolognese ("Close your eyes and pretend you're in Italy," the fork's owner instructed me).

Finishing with a one-two punch of panna cotta and chocolate mousse, all of a sudden it was show time.

And not only a show for music's sake, but a benefit for Sub Rosa Bakery, so a very worthy cause.

Fortunately, the show was only two blocks away at Gallery 5, where we walked in to find Patrick Bates playing his second song.

I'd seen the quintet not long ago at the Listening Room and really gotten into their sound, but tonight there were so many talkers in the room that I was glad I already knew what they sounded like.

And I wasn't the only one, since two other people also commented to me that it was a shame people didn't shut up so they could hear the nuances of the music.

Later even drummer Kevin said he was reluctant to use the brushes he'd used last time for fear they wouldn't be heard.

One thing I like about this band (besides Patrick's songs, the bass player's sense of humor and Kevin's drumming), is that the other two people have enough talent between them to play accordion, keyboards, cello and sax.

Now that's versatility.

I ran into a few friends (two drummers, a man-about-town, several former Mermaid Skeletons and a gallerist wearing the grooviest '70s tunic ever) between sets and then the sextet the Clair Morgans took the stage.

I'd listened online to get a feel for their sound and from the first song heard the same energetic indie music live that the MP3s had promised.

Patrick Bates was also in this band playing guitar, bongos and something that looked like a xylophone.

We got a dose of humor when a song began before Clair stopped it, looking sheepish.

"The show was going great until Clair put his capo on the wrong fret," Clair deadpanned, making the capo correction and finishing the song as it was meant to sound.

Damn fine.

One of my favorite moments came when one of the guitarists pulled out a drum as Patrick pulled out his bongos, meaning along with drummer Michael, fully half the band was beating on something.

Since a drummer friend had only a few minutes earlier been telling me about his idea for an all-drum music project, I couldn't resist nudging him and getting a big grin in return.

Headlining was Hens, a quintet I'd recently seen for the first time, and one full of big guitar sounds and big talent.

After a few songs, guitarist/singer Josh Hryciak said they'd been jamming on a new song and would go ahead and play it now.

But before that began, he moved center stage and gave us a pelvic wiggle for the ages before returning to play the song.

The man is a showman par excellence.

"That's a baby song," guitarist/singer David Shultz made sure we knew when the song wound down unceremoniously.

Guitarist/singer Marcus Shrock took over vocals for one song, indirectly reminding the crowd what a super-group these guys are with so much talent from time spent in former bands.

The last song was one big extended soundscape, with all of them looking like they were having a blast making music together.

And what could be better than friends (and employees - Josh worked at Sub Rosa) and fans getting together to make and hear music to support the worthiest of causes, a local business?

Knowing that Sub Roa is one step closer to re-opening, that's what.

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