Friday, November 7, 2014

Do What You Wanna Do

Happy birthday, Mr. Sax! I didn't know you, but I love your horn.

Despite pouring rain and soggy feet, I made Ghostprint Gallery my first stop for the opening of "Out of Sight," a show of paintings and ceramics. Walking into the gallery, I knew instinctively that the work had been the product of a woman solely based on the color palette.

Some of Jeanie Keys' pieces were representational while others required some deciphering; my favorites involved figures layered over each other. Depth of field gave way to areas of color chosen purely for their complementary nature with other aspects of the work.

Best of all, every single one had the same name: "Untitled."

The guitar player and I kept dinner in the neighborhood, roosting at Saison Market when Saison itself looked to be full up. Even the market's tables were filling up fast, like the crew of movie-makers avidly discussing a project next to us.

I was bummed to learn that I'd missed an opportunity to see "2001: A Space Odyssey" at the IMAX recently. Tomorrow night I'll be missing "The Big Lebowski" at the Byrd. Curses on the music-scheduling gods for planning screenings on nights when I'm unavailable.

Besides Vino Verde, my choice on this damp evening was lambs and clams, a satisfying bowl of the aforementioned in a clam trotter broth with fennel and Billy bread for sopping. That broth had a depth of flavor and subtle heat that had me sopping up every bit with my bread and wishing for more.

Meanwhile the guitarist told me about his writing group, recent band practices and the upcoming cultural road trips (Washington and Annapolis, both for lectures) he's eagerly anticipating while working down Saison's magnificent burger under a blanket of Manchego and bacon. He generously shared a couple bites with me.

Even the fries were textbook-perfect, twice-cooked, seriously crispy and with just enough salt to be addictive (not that they were technically mine to eat). One fell on the floor and I didn't even pretend to observe the five second rule, taking it directly from the floor to my waiting gob.

We camped out for a good long while after eating, talking about everything and nothing and watching the rain come and go. Since no one was waiting for our seats, we felt no guilt at all.

After parting company, my next stop was Balliceaux, because what's art and good food without a little music to close out the night?

The usual musician suspects were milling about when I got to the back room and only one of two sax players knew that it was Mr. Sax's birthday ("You know, Adolphe," the wise one said to the clueless one) when I mentioned it. He must not get the NPR feed because that's the only way this non-musician found out about it.

Since a good part of tonight's band, the Hi Steps, are jazz musicians, there was no chance the show was going to start on time, so I used the lull to make the rounds and chat.

From the bartender I heard about Alton Brown's fantastical food show last night (lots of people brought him gifts of food and drink). The bandleader and I discussed the Japanese James Brown cover band I'd seen last week ("You need to tell people when something like that is happening!") that he'd missed. The organizer told me she couldn't start dancing until she had more to drink. The stranger asked me if I came here often (seriously, men really say that?). The photographer moved her camera to the side to give me a big hug.

Finally all nine members of the band had drinks and took the stage to begin the show. Master guitarist and vocalist Elliot got the ball rolling by saying, "We're the Hi Steps. Thanks so much for coming out. Blah, blah, blah." Best band opening schtick ever.

From the first time I saw the Hi Steps two years ago, I was struck by how well chosen their soul set list is. Sure, they play some obvious hits - "Chain of Fools," "It's Your Thing" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" - but also lesser known gems (at least to me) such as "Can't Stop the Rain," "Give It Up" and "Tell Mama." Good stuff.

They've also got three incredibly soulful people who can sing - Elliot, keyboard player Bryce (tonight stylishly dressed right down to his cream-colored shoes) and the lovely Butterfly who dances just as good as she sings.

Tonight she got tired of the empty dance floor, saying, "We're up here sweating and you all should be up here sweating, too." Of course she was right, the music is meant for dancing, but the crowd was slow to shake it tonight and not a soul got up there during their first set.

For a change, this fan had an early morning wake-up call and couldn't hang around for the second set, but I'd like to think that that thumping bass line or relentless percussion and drums eventually did the trick.

I mean, on the birthday of the man who invented the saxophone, you'd hope maybe that kickass horn section would be what finally lured people out into the dance floor.

No bets on whether Adolphe would have been proud, but at least it would have been fitting. Blah, blah, blah.


  1. ...lambs & clams..
    ... to my waiting gob
    ...not a pretty picture...
    ..quiet desperation?

    men are no different than times they say anything... say anything? yes pie-hole -- say anything..

    yeah.... the Good stuff!

    seasons greeting K.


  2. Blah,blah, blah....


  3. Madam !!!! ... what do i have to do to get some service 'round here ?


  4. Good to have you back in the e-neighborhood leaving your thoughts, cw! Are you saying that I say anything?

  5. suspect u hold yor' cards close sometimes....


  6. After all these years, you know I do!

  7. gotta know! i'm with u gurl...


  8. shoving off now ...gotta move on down the's Sunday...try to get some rest...[if you can].