Friday, October 23, 2015

Consigned to History

That time a man you've just met tells you he's expecting you to dance "for us" once the music starts and offers four reasons why. I don't, but that's not the point.

Which could only happen when you go solo to a Tom Smith show - their first playing out together - at Balliceaux. The Tom in question is Waites and the Smith is the Smiths and the hat-wearing, gravel-voiced singer says they were shooting for a weird combination. Done.

Upright bass, acoustic guitar, sax and drums. Heard? "This Charming Man" to "Downtown Train" to "Girlfriend in a Coma" with a whole lot of Tom Waites songs I didn't know in between.

Which only came after I'd arrived outside and been asked for ID by a guy who referred to me as "young lady." After guaranteeing me that he was older, we shook on a bet.The stakes: good will.

Don't bet me on age because I'll almost always win. What follows is wildly complimentary and leads to a discussion of DNA versus lifestyle, and his belief in the power of being happy. Of course he's a musician and perfectly charming.

But I don't get to him until I finish with the play "Peter and the Starcatcher," a sort of prequel to "Peter Pan" produced by Virginia Rep at the November Theater.

There's Scott Wichmann  playing a pirate named Black Stache (or Nancy, if you ask his crew) in a thick black mustache and curly black wig that make him a ringer for John Oates circa 1984.

Combining wordplay, modern references ("Please, is there a vegetarian option?" when an orphan is given a bucket of worms to eat, or "It's the Cadillac Escalade of dilemmas!") and actors as part of the set, it's a madcap romp through Peter's back story, complete with an effeminate pirate, a food-obsessed orphan and the man born to play a woman - Robert Throckmorton - as the besotted Nanny.

It's a damn clever take on how Peter Pan ended up so messed up and the patron saint of non-committal men boys.

But before we got to Peter Pan Syndrome, Maple and Pine at Quirk beckoned with Prosecco, Virginia pork rilettes (meh) and oxtail egg rolls (more, sir) perched at one of the overly-small bar tables with the uncomfortable pedestal bottoms.

Which was only possible after Pru came straight from work to my house in order to primp and powder here before starting out for dinner and a play.

Just two girlfriends sitting at the dining table by a sunny open window while one puts on make-up and brings the other up to date and Pet Shop Boys' "Discography" blasts through the warm, late afternoon air of the wide-open apartment.

And that only happens after driving to Middlesex County for lunch with strangers to talk oysters and reefs, music blasting the entire way.

Especially satisfying on such a perfect, warm October afternoon is Del Amitri's 1992 "Change Everything" record on repeat. I'm a sucker for a Scottish band, much less one where the lead singer is nothing more than an '80s poet, a Romeo in black jeans with a jangley guitar.

Listening as I drive back, I hear for the 748th time how his choice of words, his phrasing and his brooding Scottish soul conspire to make me love every lyric and note of this album. Few can do yearning, heartache and drinking songs like the Scots. And precipitation.

Under seasick skies
I pick up the paper in the useless decent of the rain
With your standard-issue broken heart
Hopelessly honeymoon-bound
Another hour without you is consigned to history

Every line evocative, every line from a different song. Combined, just because it's a leisurely drive and I have time to let the words linger in my head.

It's that standard issue broken heart that changes everything, isn't it? Luckily, I'm way ahead on good will.


  1. ..however good will like first impressions will only take you so far.

    Last night I ventured forth to the National to see Brian Wilson. Packed by a ten piece band, [one of the best bands anyone could have], Mr. Wilson & Company put on a tour de force of American musicianship. Cherry picking many songs from his more obscure albums -- (Holland, Wild Honey, Surf's Up, Smile) the crowd rose repeatedly in applause. With him was Al Jardine, (original member) & his son Matt whose voice was so surprising good few in the audience could get enough. In addition was Blondie Chaplin who rendered his role on Holland by singing Sail on Sailor. With guitars, piano, electronic keyboards, French horns, sax, drums xylophones & bass it was one remarkable evening. In the row behind me I couldn't help but notice Plan Nine owner Jimmy Bland rolling & swaying to the sounds. I looked around...thought you might have dropped in out of curiosity. Later at the end a thirty minute encore of tradition BB hits....all in all a triumph of talent and professionalism over age & nostalgia. We probably won't see the likes of him pass this way again for quite some while. (a while and interesting & diverse crowd in attendance). The band even remarked that the Richmond crowd was the best they'd seen a quite a while.


  2. Wow, sounds terrific, cw! Wish I could have been there.

  3. You know, cw, I saw the Beach Boys back in '77 or '78 and it was a really big deal because, as the Jumbotron kept flashing to tell us, "BRIAN IS BACK!" It wouldn't have been the same show without him. Sorry I missed last night's performance.