Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sunshine, Everybody Loves the Sunshine

There are a lot of people out there who are lazy and disinterested in life. I think it's great that you have such a sense of adventure and curiosity.

This gorgeous warm weather is almost enough to make you forget who's running the country.

My heat's been turned off since yesterday morning, my windows flung wide open for two days and shorts have already become my new daytime normal. It was a delightfully sweaty walk around Belle Isle and environs, followed by a trip to the polls to vote (I was #69, for what that's worth) for my house of delegates representative.

Exiting my polling place, both the two people handing out campaign materials - one supporting Regie Ford, the other John Barclay - thanked me for voting but it was the Ford supporter who said, "I see you walk by my house every day and you are moving!"

Not to quibble, but isn't that the whole point of walking?

Spending all afternoon writing meant I had a soundtrack of Jackson Ward reveling in a glorious February day with the sounds of skateboarders, radios turned up with car windows down and the hum of small planes cruising overhead, all the delightful distractions of having the outside coming in on a winter's day.

All of which was merely prelude to a much anticipated evening.

Christmas gifts are supposed to be thoughtful so what could be better for a music lover than the gift of a show? Especially when it's the first of a four-show tour where the other cities are (wait for it) London, Paris and New York.

Just to be clear, I'd have adored seeing one of the other shows but honestly, that would have been a bit pricey for a Christmas present. Besides, then you'd have to have the whole when-is-it-okay-to-travel-with-someone discussion and experience has proven that opinions differ wildly on that subject.

Instead we parked once and partied thrice by meeting at Lalo's Cocina for tacos and travel conversation (yea or nay?) before sidling over to the Broadberry to see Richmond's own Matthew E. White along with London songbird Flo Morrissey perform songs from their new cover duets album, "Gentlewoman, Ruby Man."

Backed by Big Cat, the name Matt's given his usual RVA crew of stellar musicians (Pinson on drums, Cameron on bass, Alan on guitar and Devonne on keyboards), the Yank and the Brit delivered beautifully-conceived covers compellingly re-imagined without concern for genre.

Matt said the French were terribly impressed that they'd included Nino Ferrer's "Looking for You," a song that was chosen after Flo got it on her Spotify discovery playlist, a fact he insisted wasn't especially cool. Charlotte Gainsbourg's "Heaven Can Wait" came out heavenly indeed, while "Grease" became a whole new animal with their thoughtful rendition of the darker lyrics.

There ain't no danger we can go too far
We start believing now that we can be who we are

A standout moment was hearing Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" sung live so soon after losing him, but nothing rocked my socks quite like their take on the Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning," with Devonne's retro-sounding keyboard and Alan showing off the lead rock guitar chops Matt had praised earlier ("They're aren't many left").

Early dawning
Sunday morning
It's all the wasted years
So close behind

Matt's hushed vocals were a killer counterpoint to Flo's clear tones as they wove through the assortment of covers that swung from vintage '60s and '70s to the au courant Frank Ocean and James Blake songs they'd chosen for this project.

It won't ever get old, not in my soul
Not in my spirit, keep it alive

The good news at the Broadberry was the addition of the new restrooms (I'll ignore for the moment the guy coming out of the ladies' room) so it's no longer necessary to fight your way through the audience to relieve yourself, but the bad news was that it was so sticky hot inside the venue - partially my fault for not standing still - that I alternated eating the last of the ice cubes in my cup with using them to cool myself.

An even better solution turned out to be a leisurely nightcap at Sabai with vintage soul playing and a chance to mull over the myriad possibilities of change. Wasted years aside, I'd been reminded that you can't always sleep nine hours if you want to see the sun rise.

Good advice, but I have some of my own. Souls won't get old when fueled by a sense of adventure and curiosity.

Take it from #69.

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