Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We'll Always Have Scuffletown

Some people have Paris, some have cicadas.

A friend had recently returned from gay Paree and I was just back from the beach so we necessarily scheduled a debriefing session.

I'd given up on Heritage months ago when they stopped their happy hour, but decided to give them another shot once I heard rumors they'd come to their senses.

When I arrived, there were three men at the bar and that was it.

I recognized one of the bartenders from Balliceaux and she confirmed that yes, Virginia, there is again a happy hour.

The happy hour wine choices were limited to one red and one white, both from California, so not my first choices, but one makes do.

With dated but enjoyable indie music playing - Arcade Fire, Interpol - Friend and I scanned the new bar snacks menu so we could order and move on to more important things like dishing about our trips.

Thanks to the miracle of technology, I could see all her photographs and marvel at the things she'd experienced.

"Winged Victory of Samothrace" at the Louvre. Notre Dame's windows. The Eiffel Tower with towering gray clouds behind it. Her, on a boat and looking very elegant, mouth open in song. And food of the most magnificent kind.

It was hard not to feel envious about the wonders she'd seen. And tasted.

Luckily, our snacks arrived and distracted us for a bit.

A summer veg plate featured feta and roasted garlic dip with radishes, celery, carrots and cukes, pretty but a tad meager in size.

White anchovy pizza layered housemade pita with romesco sauce, Pecorino and arugula, but the ingredients felt too disjointed and never really came together as a whole.

The best of the bunch was beef summer sausage with beer mustard, pickle and toast, a classic combination of flavors that satisfied on every level.

We'd been so busy blathering about our trips and eating that all at once we looked up and every seat in the house was taken.

Granted, after last week's mass restaurant closings it was hardly surprising that people were starved for a restaurant experience, but a full house by 7 on a Tuesday night in July was a good reminder that they didn't really need our business.

We moved on from France to relationship epiphanies, a topic that kept us busy for some time.

When we finally parted ways, my globe-trotting friend asked me where I was headed next.

Home, I told her, since I hadn't yet decided my plans for the evening.

That changed the moment I walked in the house and found a message from my favorite dulcitar player.

Playing a secret show tonight in Scuffletown park. I'll start a bit after 8 and end around 9. Come out if you can!

Can I!

I was in Scuffletown park within minutes, joining others already lazing on blankets on the grass.

Since I'd not had the sense to bring a blanket, I sat down on a bench and was immediately joined by a favorite historian who'd walked over.

She wasn't the only familiar face; there was the scientist, the metal lover/gardener, the dance party enthusiast, the banjo player.

Meanwhile a neighbor, an older guy with a small, white dog, continued to water the potted plants throughout the park as things got set up for the music.

Organizer Patrick greeted everyone, saying, "Welcome. This is a word-of-mouth event that happens every Tuesday night around this time. Tell all your friends about it, but not on the Internet."

He introduced Dave Watkins, tonight's performer, and Dave explained that he'd be playing right through sunset and until it got dark or his battery gave out, whichever came first.

Beginning to layer the sounds of his dulcitar, his music mingled with the buzzing of the cicadas in the trees and the band practice going on in a nearby garage.

It was hard to imagine there was anywhere more pleasant to be at that moment than in this little pocket park hearing live music.

As if on cue, I looked over and saw the scientist pull something from his pocket and knew what it was before I even saw it.

He is the most reliable source of chocolate at an event that I have ever met.

Fortunately, he saw me watching, grinned and began to amble over, bringing me several squares of high quality dark chocolate.

Dave played on, strumming, tapping and blowing into the dulcitar to elicit every possible sound.

The old guy and the dog were soon sucked in, taking a seat on a concrete bench and becoming part of the audience just outside the gate.

Fireflies began appearing as the sky darkened and Dave, lit from behind by a nearby street light, treated the small crowd to his beautifully textured songs, creating as he went.

Pausing for a moment, he thanked Patrick for asking him to play. "It's not too hot. Plus that band is killing it over there!"

By the last couple of songs, the sky was a deep, velvet blue, the bugs had ceased their racket and the band had stopped rehearsing.

It was just Dave, the dulcitar and a grassy enclosure full of people raptly listening to music on a summer evening.

You have to love it when people tell you secrets.


  1. secrets are good & so is Dave Watkins...a real asset, [one of many] to the local music scene.


  2. What a great 2nd act for you last night!

  3. Dave is the best! I couldn't have asked for a nicer finish to my evening.