Monday, November 14, 2016

Life Baked in a Beautiful Pie

Good vibrations must be emanating from the Supermoon.

To help beat the post-election funk some of us are experiencing, No BS Brass Band had scheduled an early show at Plan 9 Records. I made sure to arrive early enough to look for a CD I wanted and before most of the crowd wedged itself into the store.

"Hi, y'all," trombonist Reggie Pace said after the first rousing number. "We want the world to be a great place and this is how we do it."

The crowd steadily grew both inside and along the sidewalk outside as the band played through their set - Aha's "Take On Me" and the requisite "RVA All Day" - and people danced in place.

In between grooving, I wound up sharing my clementine with the toddler being held by her mother next to me. Once she saw what I had, she'd hold out a fat little hand so I could deposit a segment into it (and once in the pocket of her smock, much to her delight) until my fruit was no more.

Her Mom thanked me profusely, but if you can't share your citrus with a babe-in-arms, you're not really trying to make the world a great place, now are you?

The exuberant show ended with Reggie and a lot of us holding up peace signs in the air and hugging each other. Outside on the sidewalk, I paused to talk to friends, hearing the same refrain repeatedly: "I needed that. We needed that."

I was far from the only one at Plan 9 who was then headed down the block to the Byrd to see Jim Jarmusch's new documentary about Iggy Pop and the Stooges, "Gimme Danger" at its sole Richmond screening.

As I'd anticipated, there were scads of friends in the near-capacity crowd and, by some miracle, a favorite couple ended up right next to me shortly before Mike of the James River Film Society spoke.

He said that they'd been trying to get Jarmusch to speak at the James River Film Festival for years, first sending him Virginia peanuts and another year, Virginia bourbon. always with an invitation to come. So far he's only sent thank you postcards, but hope springs eternal.

"No luck yet, but we'll keep working on it," he shared.

I'm a sucker for a good documentary (much less one screened in Surround Sound with a roomful of music lovers) and tonight's delivered with fun facts, rare performance footage and lots of Iggy aka Jim talking about his memories of the past 50 years.

Fact: he was originally inspired by Clarabelle on "Howdy Doody" and Soupy Sales because both characters did anything they wanted to do and that appealed to him.

After starting his musical life as a drummer, he got tired of looking at butts and took over front man duties. When the band added a sax player, he told him he wanted him to sound like Maceo Parker on acid.

I learned we share a similarity when he mentioned his attraction to people who "are in their adulthood who haven't lost their childhood." The kind of person who invented the stage dive when they were opening for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention ("The best band, in my opinion, we'd opened for at that point").

He spoke about their "big brother band," MC5 and how he remembers when they were just a cover band. There was a show poster with the Stooges and Bob Seeger on the same bill, a seemingly unlikely pairing except for their shared hometown.

What was truly amazing to see was the evolution of his stage performance, which is to say that somehow, he's still performing the acrobatic and contortionist moves he was at 20, still bare-chested (although not bleeding) and nimble as few 70-year olds could even imagine being.

Mostly, the fascinating documentary made a case for Iggy's statement to Dinah Shore on her '70s talk show when she asked about his main accomplishment.

"I helped wipe out the '60s," he said without irony and Jarmusch's film assembled all the vintage footage and interviews to prove it.

Leaving the Byrd, I couldn't help but thank the organizer who'd made sure this film came to Richmond, making for a stellar way to cap off this tumultuous week.

Things were even higher pitched when I arrived at intermission at the Firehouse Theater for the Glapcocks (hilarious anti-awards the theatrical community hands itself) and was greeted by the recent winner of  the "most animalistic" award, her glowing green trophy in hand.

More crazy awards followed and after "Most Ghost," co-host Matt (along with leggy co-host Maggie) acknowledged, "We really should sell tickets to the night we come up with all these crazy categories. It's an open bar event." That much was easy to believe and would undoubtedly be well worth the price of admission.

Once awards had been given out, we moved on to a theater kid's favorite event: the theater mannequin challenge. The entire room was instructed to form tableaux with others so that a 360-degree video could be shot of all of us frozen into a mid-action pose.

Don't ask me why. I'm not and never was a theater kid.

"This side of the room looks kind of dead," Annie, the videographer announced, pointing at my side of the room, so, with no shame at all, I turned around and engaged the guy behind me.

I'm here to tell you it was challenging for this non-actor to stare into someone's eyes for the minute-plus it takes to shoot a roomful of people and finally get to me.

The rest of the evening was devoted to singing, at least in the style of the Ghostlight After Parties of old, when actors get up and sing a favorite show tune to a pianist sight-reading the music.

Turns out Ian, whose eyes I'd stared into, had a fabulous voice, while co-host Matt proclaimed another Matt "dreamy" (and simulated oral sex with his microphone to demonstrate just how dreamy) while he sang "I'd Rather Be Sailing."

Kelsey accompanied herself on ukulele to "She Used to Be Mine" from "Waitress, the Musical," crushing the room with her talent.

She is messy, but she's kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone but she used to be mine

A few people attempted a group version of "One Day More," but there were a lot of forgotten lyrics and tepid singing (except for the impressive Ian behind me, who asked rhetorically, "How does no one know these words?") when our host Matt walked back in, saying, "What happened? I leave for five minutes!"

For the traditional singalong finale, we tried Toto's "Africa," but that didn't go so well (and why should millennials know a 40-year old pop song word for word?), so the evening closed out with the always reliable "Season of Love" instead.

525,600 minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife
In 525,600 minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

Gorgeous voices knew every nuance of this tune and they were singing in the aisle before it ended with a sustained note. There was no way not to feel the love at the Glapcocks tonight.

As far as this whole Sunday night went, I needed that. We needed that.

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