Friday, June 5, 2015

Darken My Door

I, of all people, understand the difficulty in getting to five years.

In this case, the anniversary was between blogger Andrew and the music-loving community. His blog, RVA Playlist, was turning five years old. I didn't mention to Andrew that my blog had turned five in February 2014 and you didn't see me throwing parties for myself, now did you?

The party wasn't starting until 8, so I met a friend at Sabai, the new Thai street food place and tiki bar practically next door to the Broadberry where the show was happening. They've just recently opened, so it was just a brief stop to get the lay of the land.

They won major points for a '70s soul soundtrack that featured multiple Barry White songs, Spinners and Honey Cone doing "Want Ads." I kid you not, people were breaking into song at the bar. Me, I was just reliving my youth in music.

Adding to the feel-good vibe were a couple of well-executed cocktails, my friend's Death is a Lie, a euphoric combination of mezcal, grapefruit bitters and a twist, while my zingy daiquiri was creamy with Gosling rum, egg white, blackberry brandy and orgeat for notes of almond syrup. Yes, look at me, drinking a real cocktail. I also had a couple of shrimp skewers bathed in Thai spices for a tasty clearing of my sinus cavity.

For his anniversary show, Andrew had chosen bands he'd known for years, bands in some cases I'd introduced him to originally. First up was Jonathan Vassar and the Badlands, tonight a trio of upright bass, guitar and pedal steel, and Andrew mentioned from the stage that I'd been the one who'd first exposed him to Jonathan. So there was a little public recognition thrown in for good measure tonight.

Jonathan's never met a sad song he couldn't write and tonight's were as beautiful as anything I've heard of his, perhaps made all the more so for the mournful sound of the pedal steel. Favorite lyric: "Please, darken my door," a line made even more poignant because of his harmonizing with bass player Nate.

The crowd around the stage area was a respectful one for their set while the people who'd come to chatter remained in the back by the bar, making everybody happy for the most part. See, we can all get along.

I'd expected loads of familiar faces tonight and during the break, I caught up with some of the infrequent faces: the singer who'd already had her own show this week, the country-hopping sound engineer I hadn't seen in close to a year, the dance party maven, the happy couple.

After a predictable forever for Goldrush to set up, they played a particularly rocking set full of new and newer material, including a song Prabir had written about his assault on the street, "It's All in the Past." I salute someone for being able to make lemonade out of those kinds of lemons.

Another time, he dedicated the next song to Andrew, saying it was because, "This is what we'll be doing to him after our set. The song is called "Search and Destroy." Once Andrew delivered tequila shots to the stage, I'd have sworn I saw Willis hitting his drums even harder than usual (was that a flying drumstick?) and Matt's bass resonating in my innards. Good stuff.

They closed with "Human Evolution," notable in that three horn players from No BS Brass Band - Reggie, David and Marcus - joined them for it. Know what? Goldrush sounds good with horns. In fact, a cute girlfriend said, "All music sounds better with horns. Every kind of music."

During the break, I got into a fascinating discussion with a friend who explained that he and his cohabitating girlfriend have separate silverware trays. That's right, they each use their own flatware for eating. Neither liked the other's and it seemed silly to buy new.

Odd as this sounded to me, a friend shared that when she got married, they bought a new set because neither liked each other's, either. He preferred a minimalist design and she had specific fork issues. "We found a simple pattern that met my fork needs (yes, fork needs) and problem solved," she said. That's a marriage that will probably go the distance with that kind of compromising skills.

Once No BS Brass Band got set up to play, I moved to the elevated VIP section (despite being a nobody) so I could see over the crowd. The great thing about the Broadberry stage is that it accommodates the many guys and their horns in No BS, a larger than usual group.

Drummer Lance was behind them, yes, but he got an extended solo so we could watch him unobstructed and other times, he just stood on his stool to lord over all those horns. His distinctive vocals also served as a reminder that he was back there.

They did a brand new song called "3 a.m. Bounce" and Reggie seemed especially pleased when it got a rousing reaction. They're just so tight for being so many people, it's hard not to be impressed. Oh, and P.S., I introduced Andrew to them, too.

Their set was more or less a non-stop dance party, as they always are, but the crowd was smaller than at their typical shows, no doubt a factor of the hour on a school night. Still, everyone who stayed was glad they did.

All in all, it was a pretty wonderful anniversary party except for one thing. There was no cake. I don't want to make it sound like I came for cake - I really wanted to see the bands, of course - but a cake really makes a party. Andrew explained that his cake baker had an unfortunate accident, but try telling my sweet tooth that.

Fortunately, we did get a prize to take home, a fifth anniversary RVA Playlist mix  of 20 songs (although I personally have only heard 15 of the bands live) that represent the Richmond music scene. On the liner notes, my name was included  as one of the people Andrew thanked for love and support. Aww, shucks, who needs cake when they've got recognition?

So happy anniversary, RVA Playlist. Five years is a lot of posts (believe me, I know) and a lot of local music featured over the years. We both know I've probably been at more of those shows you wrote about than you were, but we've already had that conversation.

And here's a fun fact: the anniversary gift for five years is silverware. Separate or shared forks, Andrew? Having made it five years, it's your choice.

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