Monday, April 27, 2015

Be My Angels of Rock in 2/4

The problem with going out of town is that once you get back, you're scrambling to catch up.

Yesterday, I'd driven out to the sticks, past bright green fields with a gold-ish cast thanks to the filtered sun of a cloudy afternoon, with Tears for Fears' "Elemental" blasting. Rolling down my car window when I came to a horse pasture, I serenaded the horses at the top of my lungs with "Good Night Song."

Get some honesty
Take the best of me and then the rest let go
In every situation with its tireless rage
Step outside your cage and let the real fool show

I wouldn't subject any humans to the sound of my singing voice, but horses (and dogs) don't judge. Or if they do, they keep it to themselves.

Being in the country yielded the usual things: hearty walks, a visit from a drunken neighbor, listening to music and the pleasures of fire-stoking in front of the fire pit and alas, too little conversation.

Back in the city today, I played catch up with work, exchanging bon mots with Pru in Paris and making plans for the week. Every girl wants her dance card full.

Looking for something fun for tonight, I spied a $2 show at Capital Ale House (notable mainly because yesterday I ate at Sedona taphouse and the world knows I couldn't give a fig about taps) with Alison Self opening and Tennessee's Lost Dog Street Band headlining. Bingo.

Although I've been to scads of free shows, I always wish that instead of gratis, they'd charge a measly $2 at the door instead like tonight's. It's only fair to place some monetary value on people performing, even if it is a last minute show. They're still sharing their talent.

Arriving just as the show was supposed to start, I caught a break because it hadn't, allowing me time to order food - Maryland crab soup and a chimichurri steak salad - before it did. I hate to be "that guy" talking to the server while someone's singing.

Alison Self took the stage and briefly considered not using the mic for the small crowd, but did anyway. Her big voice took charge of the room and she kicked the evening off by saying, "Go ahead and talk if you want to."

I didn't, although there was some soup slurping and chewing going on at my table.

You never get a bad set from Alison, whether it's Kitty Wells covers ("Honky Tonk Angels"), an original waltz ("When I Feel Weak, I Pour a Strong Drink") or Tanya Tucker ("Blood Red and Going Down").

Laughing, she told the crowd, "None of my songs are happy. They're country songs!" She also pointed out that she shouldn't drink beer when she's playing cause it makes her burp. I'm inclined to think that just adds to the country feel of it all.

Kind of like when she was singing about paying for past mistakes with bitter tears, inserting the line, "And bitter beers." Probably the same ones that made her burp.

She wowed with some Patsy Cline before closing with one of her own, "I Wouldn't Kiss You If I was Whiskey Drunk." I've never been whiskey drunk, but I do understand the sentiment.

After she thanked the audience, someone called out, "Your bangs are perfect!" which was an absolutely true statement. If she cuts them herself, she's got another talent besides just being a honky tonk angel.

Next up was the western duds-wearing duo known as Lost Dog Street Band, with Ashley playing fiddle and Benjamin playing guitar and harmonica as well as drum and tambourine with his feet. Both wore straw hats and she might have even had a gun holster on her belt.

"It's a small crowd, so we'll do a different set, just stuff I want to do," Benjamin told us before educating us on the lingo of train hopping. So that you know, there are hobos, tramps and then there are yeggs, who, we learned, are the criminals of the bunch.

As you might expect from a couple who ride the rails and hitch cross-country, they had story songs as well as some personal favorites by a former collaborator, Nicholas Ridout, whom they called the best songwriter ever. There was even a Rolling Stones cover which I didn't recognize.

They got lots of cheering when they said they were going to do Hank Sr.'s "Lost Highway" and soon couples were two-stepping on the floor in front of the stage.

When their set ended, the crowd called for one more and they obliged with another Ridout because, according to Ashley, "We always close with one of Nicholas' songs."

Too bad or they could have closed with "Good Night Song." Never fear, I wouldn't have considered for a moment singing out loud.

Good night song
Played so wrong
Blame the crowd
They scream so loud so long

Hey, that's for horses.

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