Sunday, May 17, 2015

Barrels of Fun

Okay, kids, it's time to get on board with the Bijou.

Today's event at Hardywood - bands, movies, magician and raffle - is the latest fundraiser to help get the upcoming Bijou Film Center up and running so that those of us devoted to the movie theater experience will have a place to see not only films that don't make it to Richmond, but repertory film as well.

This is huge for someone such as me who doesn't watch movies at home.

So I enlisted a music-loving friend to spend the afternoon with me for a good cause. Like me, he's got no use for beer, but he was game anyway. This was for the good of our film future.

Little did he know how hot Hardywood would be.

Red Hot Lava Men, a band I knew of but had never seen despite their 18-year history, absolutely killed it with their distinctive brand of instrumental surf rock, shredding guitars and pummeling drums. Even more impressively, they did it in white dress shirts and ties.

Midway through their set, Bijou's instigator James took the microphone long enough to clarify, "Dancing is permitted." Plenty of people, myself included, were already dancing in place, but it looked like not enough beer had yet been consumed and no one had the nerve to take to the dance floor. Yet.

From where we stood, it was easy to gauge the room's temperature as I saw small sweat spots on people's backs (especially the WRIR crowd standing right up front) increase in size, sometimes becoming two sweat stains, sometimes just one large sweat amoeba.

The music was that hot.

When the band finished, the crowd called for them to come back and they obliged with an encore, one last reminder how much I dig this music.

During the break, our attention was called to what was going on in the back with one of the guys from AV Geeks, who was transferring old Super 8 and 8 mm films to digital. Glancing over, I spotted a guy in '70s-looking gym shorts onscreen, just the kind of historical artifact that needs to be saved for the sake of future generations.

Key here is that that's a service the Bijou will offer once they find a building and open.

"You wore the right dress for the occasion," a friend said of my tissue paper-thin bright yellow cotton dress with Indian-style bead detailing. "I wore this linen shirt for the same reason." I pity the fools who didn't take their attire into account today.

By then the tasting room was oppressively hot, so we took a break and went outside in the sunshine, which baked us but allowed us to breathe more easily for a bit. It's not the heat, it's the humidity and all that rot.

We slipped back in time to grab stools and watch Charlie Chaplin's 1916 short film "Easy Street," where he helps clean up the streets of bullies by becoming a policeman. Of course he wins the girl in the end, too. It was an interesting version because it had music and sound effects, so not the original I'm guessing.

Waiting for the next band to start, we saw the crowd increasing in size with the gallery owner, the filmmaker, the history buff, Mr. High on the Hog himself and the baker. Even the juvenile set came ready to listen with kids wearing colorful earphones and ear plugs to product their intact hearing.

Spotting the woman in front of me using a fan to maintain her cool, I complimented her wisdom in bringing it today. "No accident, I keep three in my purse all summer long. I never go anywhere without them," she shared. Brilliant (note to self).

The Happy Lucky Combo took the stage with accordionist Barry looking particularly dapper in a straw boater, a gentleman's best topper on a summer-hot day, introducing themselves to first-timers (although how that's possible, I can't imagine) with a song, "We're the Happy Lucky Combo."

Introductions out of the way, the moved on to a raucous song about Manchester called for obvious reasons "Dogtown." My friend leaned over to inform me that there's a Manchester AA group called "Dogtown Drunks" and my hat's off to them with a sense of humor like that.

With songs such as "If I Were a Rich Man" and "Jellyroll" and untold songs that sounded like tavern drinking songs, the Combo soon had the dancers the Lava Men hadn't. A toddler swayed side to side next to a wooden barrel while the Man About Town shook a leg with the artistic director of a local theater company. The band called him out from the stage, much to his delight.

He came over to say hello afterwards, explaining away his dancing bent saying, "Everyone should have an Agent Cooper," which meant nothing to me until I glanced at the chalkboard to see it was a 12.2% dry-hopped imperial something or other.

"They should have a nap room in the back after that," he suggested then reconsidered. "But that would probably lead to things."

Turns out he wasn't the only one feeling the wrath of Agent Cooper. One of the Combo's singers mentioned he indulged in beer infrequently and had had one, too. Knocked for a loop, he was.

"I think we should do a beer song," one of the other musicians said and they cobbled together "Roll Out the Barrel" to the audience's delight. There's a reason their name mentions happy because it's the effect they have on audiences.

By the time their set ended, "it" band and next on the bill Avers, had arrived and the crowd had again doubled in size, understandable given their talent pool.

But I've seen them on more than one occasion (and will again, of course) and my friend was beet red and sweating from every pore, so we made our way back to his car discussing all the VWs we'd both owned over the years. He trumped me with having had a Vanagon plus his Cabriolet had caught fire at a gas station, but losing my Squareback on the Beltway because I'd never put oil in it was a close third.

He apologized for being so overheated we needed to leave, but I was well satisfied with our afternoon supporting the Bijou, listening to live music and watching cartoons and silent films. No, we didn't win any of the raffles, but we supported something that will make Richmond even cooler than it already is.

Bring on the Bijou Film Center and I promise never to leave a movie early. I may need to pull out a fan, but I'm in it 'till the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment