Saturday, April 27, 2013

White Lightning

It would have been a day, even if the only major event had been George Jones dying.

But it wasn't, at least for me, so I was happy when Holmes extended the invitation to come join him and his honey for dinner at his house.

She's recovering from recent surgery, so the idea was to stay in and have a low key evening, just the three of us.

I should have known better.

"Do you like linguine and clam sauce?" he asked jovially over the phone, letting me know that they were already well into the bubbles.

When I arrived a few minutes later, I was greeted with Holmes singing "Busy Girl" to the tune of  the La's' "There She Goes," probably a tribute to my schedule.

I've cooked and eaten with these two before and it's a hoot.

If I'd been smart, I'd have brought some of the basil and Italian parsley growing in my dining room windowbox to contribute to the dish.

It's funny, Holmes considers himself in charge, dictating what the womenfolk should be doing, even though I inevitably take over and make the sauce myself.

The good thing about being at his house is that we're both music lovers, so he always spends the evening playing things he wants me to hear.

Tonight we began with jazz (Mel Hefty, Mel Torme) before moving on to Paul Carrack, whom he described as "my favorite blue-eyed soul singer. I don't like Hall and Oates."

Me, I was busy sauteing onions and garlic and throwing back Prosecco.

Over dinner, we talked about the Wesselmann exhibit at VMFA, which they've not seen but are eager to.

I've seen it once, but offered to accompany them for the sake of another look.

We discussed whether it's better to have a drink before an exhibit or after (or both), with Holmes coming down on the side of after, while the girlfriend and I saw no reason not to pregame and re-convene for post-art dissection.

Sopping clam sauce with our heavily-buttered garlic bread, we marveled at the VMFA getting the first full-career retrospective of Wesselmann's work in the country.

This is what happens after multiple bottles of bubbles when you have two art history geeks across the table from each other.

Dessert became a shared effort as Holmes and I made a chocolate sauce of dark Ghiradelli chocolate and butter for the ice cream and eclairs that satisfied the chocoholic needs of those of us with XX chromosomes.

Meanwhile, he played Patty Griffin's unreleased 2000 album, "Silver Bell," filling me in on the back story and walking me through his favorite tracks.

Meal over, it was on to the business at hand: George.

Holmes pulled out a bottle of Herradurra Silver, got out two very different shot glasses (mine was a skeleton head, for what that's worth) and began pouring so we could toast the late, great Mr. Jones.

The recovering one abstained from tequila, probably a wise move.

By then, we were listening to something truly unique, a CD of music recorded by Holmes, a lifelong musician, and various of his musical friends.

There was stuff written in the '70s and onward, including one called "Friend" dedicated to Holmes by the songwriter.

I've heard Holmes play his viola live, so it was a treat to hear him tearing it up on song after song, introducing, as he put it, "the wild card" element which mitigated, as he put it, "the perfection of Josh's songs."

Frankly, when someone's playing a twelve string guitar, I can't find a lot to complain about.

Since I've only known Holmes for ten years, it was fascinating to hear his 20-year old self playing with so much passion, the talent of a young man I never knew.

But I never knew George, either, although the tales of his drinking, stormy relationships and no-show concerts were legendary enough that even a non-country music fan like me knew of them.

A good enough reason to drink tequila and toast what no longer is, George included.

Even busy girls get the blues.

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