Thursday, July 17, 2014

Play What You Know

If I'd been a student, my teacher would have told me to stop horsing around.

Walking up the brick walkway to happy hour at the Anderson Gallery, I spotted tonight's musical guest - Dave Watkins -being posed for some pictures under a tree.

I could have paused to stay out of frame, could have breezed by and into the gallery, but, no, I all but ran up behind him and used my hand to stick rabbit ears behind his head.

His newly shorn head, I might add, since Dave was sporting a very attractive curly on top, high and tight on the sides summer do.

It was my first time photo-bombing, just for the record, and I'm pretty pleased with myself about it.

Saying hello to a gallerist and an artist, I was almost immediately joined by other members of the Dave Watkins fan club: neighbors from J-Ward, the photographer and his cute wife, the motorcyclist, the DJ, the one with the new state job.

Hail, hail, the gang's all here.

A friend immediately complimented my hair, asking me where I'd gotten it cut. As if. I love how much credit people give me.

When I told her it had been Hair Cuttery in August 2013, she told me she asks her husband to just lop off the end of her ponytail when she needs a trim (he won't, by the way). I guess we'll just keep growing it out then, she and I.

Once everyone in our little group had a beverage in hand, we sat outside on the brick patio catching up.

The couple who'd just returned from the Red Wing Roots music festival told a funny story of having their pirate flag stolen from the pole (which they didn't steal) beside their tent. Far more valuable stuff was ignored, but the thieves got the skull and crossbones.

My friend loved the poetry of a pirate flag having been pirated.

Because there are even more music shows this week than normal, we all compared notes to see who is going to which shows.

An artist I know from another lifetime came over and told me she had seen me running up behind Dave and how great I looked. "You never change," she said, "no matter how many years go by. I hope that means you're happy!"

I dare say I am.

When we moved inside for music, Dave proceeded to not only blow minds with his music but also put on a sound-activated light show on the walls of the gallery.

Is there nothing the man can't do?

Building up layers of musical phrases with his electric dulcitar - you know, the one he built himself just like the new haircut he gave himself - and looping them so he could produce the sound of an entire band instead of just one guy, I watched minds being blown as first-timers became part of the cult of Dave.

Me, I've been a card-carrying member of his fan club for five years now and he knows it.

When his set ended, there was major applause and extended mingling. My neighbors asked me to join them for dinner, but I had plans. Neither was surprised.

"Do you go out every night?" the husband asked. I do, I told him. I can't think of a good reason not to.

The plans that kept me from eating with them were at Richmond Triangle Players where brothers Evan and Chris Nasteff were doing a cabaret/rock show.

Plus it was going to be an interactive show so every attendee got to put two song requests in the hat (bribes were suggested). The only rule was that there could be no show tune requests because they didn't know what a show tune was until eight years ago and show tunes are difficult...or so they claimed.

Considering Evan's an actor (I'd seen him do a terrific job in "Cabaret" last month), their aversion to show tunes was unexpected.

No surprise, I ran into an actor friend and we got to talking about auditions for "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," my excitement over The Basement (the new theater space coming to my neighborhood where "Hedwig" will play) and, of all things, the Pump House in Byrd Park, which he'd heard was finally being renovated.

If the Pump House is ever redone, he thinks the preview event should be a tea dance to kick off pride week. I can't think of a better way to christen the old dance floor than having a bunch of queens break it in. Can I get an amen?

Finally taking my seat in the second row, when I was asked where I'd come from, I said happy hour.

"Are you happy?" he wanted to know. Oh, yes, I'm happy.

All of a sudden tonight's star, Evan, was onstage and demanding of the room, "Sit down!" followed by his best "Cabaret" German accent saying, "You VILL sit down!" so we did.

He and his band - brother Chris on guitar, Grant on guitar, Bobby on bass and Bentley on drums- were all in tank tops and they enthusiastically crashed into the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There," making for a fabulous start to the evening.

We all yelled our approval.

Partway through, Richmond icon Marjorie Lee Stewart VanderCamp (aka Maggie) took the stage before being shooed away while Chris and Grant got out their acoustic guitars and did "And I Love Her" with Bentley hand drumming, which I love the sound of.

Meanwhile, the Nasteff parents were in the front row, alternately taking pictures and looking rather proud.

Next Evan called the platinum blond Grey up (she's currently doing "Hair," which I'd also just seen) and she took the stage looking like a million bucks in pink satin pants, a black sequin top and silver platform shoes before destroying the room (or at least me) doing a slow burn of the Foundations' "Baby, Now That I Found You" with Chris on guitar.

You better believe I hooted and hollered after that one.

The next guest was the ringer. Nick, also taking  a night off from "Hair" joined Chris and Evan on Crosby, Stills and Nash's magnificently alliterative "Helplessly Hoping," complete with three part harmonies. Absolutely beautiful.

Afterwards, Evan quipped, "As you can see by the words written all over Nick's arms, that's not his last song with us." Sure enough, both arms were covered in lyrics.

Admitting that they couldn't stand John Mayer but admired his music, the band rocked through "3 x 5" and then went in a whole different direction with Chris doing R. Kelly's "Remix of Ignition" and I screamed even louder at the end.

After singing about stroking it and feeling that body, Chris looked over at the woman who had birthed him and said, eyes down, "Hi, Mom."

And what better to follow sexual pleading than with "Hey Ya," with the line, "I don't wanna meet your Mama, I just want to make you come-a"?

Sorry, Mama Nasteff.

The always energetic Matt did a couple of Green Day songs - "She" and "Pullin' Teeth"- with Marjorie, claiming they only learned them yesterday. If so, well done, you two.

Who needed show tunes when these guys were killing it with rock?

That was when we got to the request box and Evan pulled out some wiseacre's suggestion for Lindsay Buckingham pre-Fleetwood Mac.

"Are you kidding?" Evan said, tossing it aside. "I'm going to take your dollar anyway."

The next request was for "Genie in a Bottle," followed by a another for the same song. Who are you people?

Only problem was Evan didn't have his phone so he couldn't look up the chords. Aw, too bad.

"Yea, we thought this through," Chris deadpanned at the mic for the third time tonight, his go-to announcement every time things got chaotic onstage.

They decided the smart thing to do was break for intermission, let everyone get drinks, they'd find the chords and start the second act with "Genie."

After a mad rush for the bar (with Will Smith playing on the sound system) and a friend saying to me, "This is crazier than the Ghostlight after party," which is really saying something because that's always a pretty silly evening, the audience mostly took their drinks to their seats so the Nasteffs could carry on.

Because that's what they'd come to do and, by gum, they were going to do it.

Evan sang lead on "Genie," while Marjorie did the best interpretive dance and backing vocals and the band members just cracked up the entire time.

When you think about it, that's actually an appropriate reaction to that silly song.

Midway through the Killers' "When You Were Young," Evan flashed Chris a smile and said, "See, I did learn that last chord." Apparently brotherly one-upmanship never dies.

Nick returned, studying his lyric-filled arm during the intro to "My Sharona," before belting it out which got lots of audience squeals, but then they went into OK Go's "Here We Go Again" sung by Evan, before reverting to "Sharona."

Ye gads, a medley!

Walking offstage, someone called to Nick asking, "Who's Sharona?" and he yelled, "Mine!"

Chris did "Life in the Slaw Lane," an acoustic ode to fruits and vegetables that had the crowd cracking up with every line of wordplay ("Her name was Peaches, a soiled but radishing beauty with huge gourds"), laughing himself at points.

Naturally they had to follow that with something crazy like Tenacious D, resulting in Papa Nasteff calling out from the first row, "Play something you know!"

No matter how old you get, they still think they're the boss of you. Pipe down, Daddio.

"We're gonna do a Dire Straits song as re-imagined by the Killers because we're not old as shit," Evan said before trading off vocals with Chris on "Romeo and Juliet," a song I admit I hadn't heard before and I am old as shit, despite what artists might tell me.

Nick and Majorie returned ("Yes, Nick, it's that arm!"), ready to regale us with a song from "School of Rock" while having a dance-off with each other. "Teacher's Pet" was definitely the song where the band rocked out hardest.

"Rock and roll!" someone shouted as they finished. That's what we'd come for.

"We're gonna play our encore as our last song and then do one request," Evan said before "Hey, Jude" and the whole audience joining in for the "na, na, na" chorus, a true kumbaya moment.

Because I've been to the Ghostlight after party plenty, I more or less was certain that "Hit Me, Baby, One More Time" would be the big finale (Evan always closes the show doing it) and I wasn't disappointed.

With the band cracking up, the crowd singing along, tonight's cabaret/rock show ended on the happiest of notes.

The brothers who have always wanted to do a show together can now scratch that off their bucket list after a well-executed performance.

I'm pretty sure they were having as good a time as we were.

Some things you don't have to think through.

1 comment:

  1. Karen, I didn't put your name and face together until I saw your FB picture and remembered seeing you last night. What a wonderful review from someone who appreciates and celebrates live performance. You have conveyed the joy and talent and anarchy of last night's show so well that anyone who reads your words will feel that they attended the event and regret not actually having been there for the real thing.