Friday, January 15, 2016

Making a Woman Fan Out of Me

If I couldn't actually be at the edge of the sea, at least I could witness the funk.

Ghostprint Gallery's opening for Carol Meese's "Edge of the Sea" exhibition offered a vaguely abstract look at a landscape I know very well. The artist, one of those fortunate people who have a house on the Outer Banks, created works evoking but not technically representing the beach and water I've been visiting annually since I was two.

The pieces are incredibly atmospheric, whether it's a view of the beach walking South, like "Orange and Gray" or one from the non-ocean side, such as "Salvo Sound." Birds, sea foam, grasses, everything is suggested rather than clearly defined with Meese's loose brushstrokes and painterly style.

If you're like me, the show will make you wish it were warmer weather and you were there. That, or it'll make you wish you had a fatter wallet. As a girlfriend I ran into put it, "I aspire to be able to buy art." The works in the show were actually very well-priced, just out of the range of freelance writers.

I convened an ad hoc film discussion when I ran into a couple of fellow film buffs, briefly abandoning art. UR's International Film series is about to crank up again and a friend made me laugh when she described it as, "A wonderful foreign film series, but all the movies, even the comedies, are depressing." She exaggerates, but only a tad.

A pragmatist would say they're just more realistic than Hollywood versions.

Tonight's main event was a show at the National which began with only about 40 people present for opener Rome Fortune, a hip hop artist from Atlanta dressed all in white. No, hip hop isn't usually my thing, but if I only went to see musicians who were my "thing," I'd be a pretty stale person, now wouldn't I?

I prefer to think that I'm not.

We gave the guy credit, though, because despite the insufficient crowd, he danced and rapped his heart out with solid beats and engaging arrangements, gradually enticing people to, as he put it, "move those asses,' even calling out a guy for not dancing with the lovely lady beside him.

Personally, I think men should be called out for that sin more often.

In the bathroom after his set, I heard a girl tell her friend, "I'm a fan of tall, well-dressed dudes but right now, I don't wanna walk that slanted floor in these heels." I have no clue what good-looking hunk of man meat she was passing on for the sake of cute shoes.

As a woman of a certain age, I  have a policy on that matter, learned through experience. Never wear shoes you can't walk in to do whatever it is you might want to do, honey.

Walking back to my position in front of the sound booth, I was amazed at how many more people of all ages had shown up, including a guy behind me who leaned in and asked, "Do they sell pot here?"

Well, I don't know about that, but there definitely was a lot of pot smoking going on in the crowd once Lettuce took the stage and, for that matter, there was also crowd-surfing and light saber-waving. It was a colorful crowd, all around.

I'd discovered Lettuce a few months ago when I'd first heard "He Made a Woman Out of Me" and been smitten, intrigued by the sound of a six-piece funk band inspired by Tower of Power and Earth, Wind and Fire who'd formed at Berklee College 24 years ago.

As long as I've been around and as much as I like a good funk band, that's a long time not to have heard of them.

Needless to say, after a quarter of a century together the group - trumpet, sax, guitar, bass, keys, drums - was impressively tight, nailing stops, starts and tempo changes as easily as batting their eyes. The horns were especially swoon-worthy, put through all kinds of effects and sometimes following the lead guitar's role in moving the music along. The drummer killed it and every kind of percussion was trotted out to fuel the funk.

A sticker on the sound guy's laptop proclaimed the band's intent: "May the funk be with you."

Best of all, the dude-heavy crowd - described by my companion as old, young, hippies, music geeks and festival kids - started dancing from the first notes and never stopped (except between songs) for two sets. Fact is, you can still dance, even when you're passing a joint or waving a light saber. But then, the point of funk is to shake your ass.

As the keyboard player soulfully sang, "You gotta do your thing." You know I did.

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