Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Make It Up as We Go Along

If the measure of a good end to an evening is a sweaty dress, I scored big time.

After a particularly complimentary date invitation, we wound up at Acacia, which was nearly empty, not necessarily a bad thing after my last couple of exceedingly crowded nights there.

Beginning light and bright (Hollerer Gruner Veltliner), the evening unfolded with shared stories while men in business attire clustered awkwardly at the bar to drink before retiring to tables.

The music playing was interesting enough to catch my ear - Fly Golden Eagle was a major highlight - an unexpected plus at a place known for middle eastern trance music.

Eventually bowing to our server's pressure, we decided to go prix fixe, which for me meant a well-executed salad of roasted beets, goat cheese, mixed lettuces and balsamic vinaigrette followed by two tempura-fried softshell crabs over cheddar grits and sauteed kale in a lemon  butter sauce while my date went with a buttery petite filet.

In no hurry to rush the evening, we moved on to Mas de la Dame Rose about the same time another couple at the bar did (copycats!) and called them out on it. They took the criticism, smiled and drank the pink wine nonetheless.

My dessert was chocolate cake (which came across more like a brownie, so perhaps it was a cake brownie) with brown sugar ice cream and chocolate almond streusel but I had no compunction about tasting my date's molasses cake with sweet carrot mousse, cream cheese ice cream and candied pecans, a delicious alternative to chocolate, although not quite as wonderful as gingerbread.

After discussion of dive bars on Collington Road, the weather forecast and heads too big to get out of restaurant doors, we finished up with bubbles before ending a mighty fine date.

But I knew that after a stellar 9 1/2 hours of sleep last night, sleep was not forthcoming so I headed to Cary Street Cafe for some cover bands. Judging by the crowd, I wasn't the only one with that idea.

It was my first time hearing Diamond Heist, a Neil Diamond cover band and it didn't take long to make me sorry I'd missed part of their set.

Luckily, I got to hear "I'm a Believer," "Coming to America" and, most importantly, "Sweet Caroline," a song that had the crowd shouting along in unison.

Good times never seemed so good
I feel inclined 
to believe they never could

When they came offstage, I told the singer how much I'd enjoyed their set and he responded by saying, "You're Karen from the Times Dispatch, right?"

Wow, that was another lifetime ago, but yes, that would be me.

We talked about Neil Diamond and I was amazed to learn that he hadn't known the songs before the band began. Clearly, he's not as chronologically challenged as me.

People poured in before Fear of Music, a Talking Heads cover band, took the stage. I've seen them before, so I knew to expect hits and deep cuts, all note perfect and that's what they delivered.

I saw lots of familiar faces - the editor, the DJ, the National employee, the man about town- but also lots of people too young to have been alive when this music came out. Surely it was the songs that had sucked them in.

"Life in Wartime," "Take Me to the River, "(Nothing But) Flowers," they nailed song after song and it took no time at all before I was one of the people dancing to every note.

Before long, I marched up to the man about town and told him he needed to join me for dancing and he was agreeable enough to accommodate, bringing his beer to my space in front of the band.

From there, it was a free for all, with wild dancing going on to "Burning Down the House, "Road to Nowhere" and "Wild, Wild Life." There's no other way to react to that music.

Of course, my favorite is "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" and you better believe I sang and danced to every word.

I can't tell one from the other
Did I find you or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this is where I'll be, where I'll be

During the break between sets, the man about town got me water and explained that he could only stay for one or two more songs.

Six songs later, I reminded him of his words and we left not long before their last song.

My dress was as sweaty as his shirt and we agreed that everything on our bodies needed to make a direct line to the washing machine.

Cover up and say good night. Good night.

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