Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves

Estrogen was rampant. There were three female-fronted bands on the bill tonight.

Once the hired mouth and I'd taken care of business, it was on to the Camel for music. I was so thrilled at the prospect of all those women singing that I'd brought presents for each.

A quick trip to For the Love of Chocolate and I'd scored three mounds of ecstasy to present to Christina, Antonia and Laura, all of whom seemed tickled with the surprise.

Just a little reward for having girl parts, ladies.

Waiting for Yeni Nostalji to take the stage, I chatted with friends and a guy I didn't know. When my friend realized he and I hadn't been introduced, she did so, leading to a discussion of how sometimes people are familiar simply because you've seen them at a bunch of shows and not because you've ever met them.

"We need something like speed dating for people who go to shows," she suggested, although she wasn't talking about dating. Speed friending, perhaps?

A favorite couple arrived and joined me, as excited as I was about the impending evening of women.

I mentioned that I'd briefly heard an all-female band playing "Radar Love" yesterday at Broad Appetit and how every middle aged man there had been grinning and singing along.

Judging by the grin on my middle-aged friend's face as I shared this story, I felt safe in assuming if he'd have been doing the same.

"Well, I don't know all the words, but yea," he admitted, going on to say that it was a smart song to cover. Clearly.

But he also brought up an important point, which is that it'll be a great day when so many female-fronted bands isn't seen as a big deal. Neko Case just very publicly made that same point.

Agreed, but we're a long way from that at the moment.

Yeni Nostalji took the stage while it was still broad daylight outside and the lovely Christina was a vision in a red shirt, black skirt, gold belt and fabulous gold earrings made by our friend Sarah.

With Jeff on keys, Evrim on guitar and vocals and Christina on vocals, they spun their Turkish web over the crowd.

"The world is turning, everything is turning, except you back to me," Christina translated before a sad song.

Guitarist Tim Harding joined the group for the smooth, almost samba-sounding "Promise, Darling, Promise" with Christina and Evrim trading lead vocals until they almost broke our hearts with how beautiful the sound was.

Afterwards, Evrim mentioned how happy he was to be part of Richmond's music community and Christina shared that they had a Facebook page.

"Or you could call 1-800-YENI-NOSTALJI," Jeff said to major laughter.

When Christina said that their last song was an invitation to clink glasses and hold someone dear close, Evrim clarified, "It's a tearjerker. We don't have a word in Turkish for tearjerking."

At that point, musicians Nate and Jonathan pulled their chairs together and put their arms around each other, a truly funny moment.

As soon as they finished playing, a gardener friend came over and instructed me to join him and his girlfriend at the bar for some conversation.

He was full of restaurant gossip and piss and vinegar and midway through our chat, a drummer friend came by to say hello.

Both of us were getting a kick out of the bill of foreign-sung music tonight, and he admitted to wanting to start a Jamaican band, which somehow led to him suggesting that I form a band.

When I explained that my role is as an audience member because I have zero musical talent, he insisted that my years of show-going qualified me to be onstage.

I could stand there and let a band play around me, I said and he loved that idea. "That would be so cool!" he insisted.

Even better, he thought I could curate a band, choose all the players I wanted and see what happens. Now there's an idea.

Making it back to my seat just as Miramar - bass, drums, keys and singer with maracas -got started, drummer Rei explained the next song was about how love is as elusive as champagne in a crystal glass that breaks.

"That's us, lifting spirits since 2007," cracked singer Laura saying that all their songs were sad.

A song Rei described as a conversation between a man and his heart set to a tango beat had Laura explaining that the song was super-sexist. And we're surprised about this from Argentina?

Before an original song with music by their very talented and female keyboard player Marlysse, Rei told a story of his mother giving him a poem so touching he teared up and asked whose it was.

Turns out his Mom had been writing poetry for years. "Have we met?" he asked her before using the poem as lyrics for Marlysse's music.

A Greek ex-wife had inspired the song "Maybe I Love You," and Laura quipped, "By the way, Rei's Mom's song is our only happy song we sing. And now it's back to real life."

True perhaps, but sadness sounded exquisitely beautiful, as on "Lost in Love" where Laura (who joked, "More suffering!") sang the first half in Portuguese and Rei the second in Spanish and an audience member called out, "Cool!" and she responded "Cool is right!"

Don't mess with a female-fronted band, son.

After their set, I did some more mingling, hearing about how well a friend's love life is going, enjoying the story of a first-time babysitter feeding potato chips to his charge and congratulating a musician friend on her recently completed Kickstarter campaign.

Last up were the Richmanian Ramblers doing their inspired kind of gypsy music about tolls and ferries, farm animals and drinking goggles.

Singer Antonia had stylishly coordinated her ensemble and hair ribbon with her accordion for a symphony in red, black and white.

A couple of my friends had never heard them before despite bassist Nate being a neighbor so they were blown away by Antonia's voice and the pleasures of clapping to tavern music on many of the songs.

With two violinists, a clarinetist, a percussionist, guitarist, bassist, accordion player and Antonia, it was a big, full sound to entertain the still good-sized crowd that had hung around on a Monday night.

An awful lot of people said something to me about what a terrific bill it was.

Some raved about how it was our own little folk fest with Turkish, Latin and Romanian music played while others marveled at the power of the women at the center of these bands.

And actually, not just at the center singing. Miramar had a fabulous female piano player and the Ramblers had a female violinist and percussionist, bringing their estrogen count to three.

I didn't bring nearly enough chocolates to gift my people.

Already, someone has posted online saying, "What a great night! Thank you all so much! I hope you make this happen again sometime soon."

Maybe if it happened often enough, it wouldn't seem like such a big deal to get so much girl power onstage in one night.

Nah, I'm pretty sure it was every bit as amazing a night of music as everyone in the room listening thought it was.

I'm thinking For the Love of Chocolate needs to sponsor their tour.

Taking Will's advice, I'll just stand on stage and listen.

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