Friday, March 24, 2017

Moonrise, Moon Set

If I had ever been here before, I would probably know just what to do - sound of record scratching - oh, wait, I do.

At the Foxygen show at the National the other night, a friend had observed that he used to go to a show and know most of the people there, at least recognize them. Not so any more and partly, we decided, because of the growth in the breadth and width of the scene.

Tonight was proof positive, with long-familiar musical faces in spaces that didn't exist 9 or 10 years ago and performed for only a few familiar faces.

Beginning the evening with the inaugural Southside Listening Room at WPA was hardly negotiable given my seasoned status with the original Listening Room series all those moons ago. That long-time friends Lobo Marino were not only organizing and curating but also performing second sealed the deal.

After establishing myself in a stool near the door next to a woman eating blueberry pie, a friend spirited me away ("You wanna be in the middle of everything?") to a seat right in front of the opening band, Swamp Trees. They said they hadn't played in a while, which may have had something to do with the toddler in green overalls whose Mommy was singing lead and playing ukulele and accordion while her bandmates were on guitar and drums.

Their set was short, but they managed to include both their newest song as well as the first song they ever sang as a band, exhorting the audience to sing along.

Let it in, let it out. Did we ever.

People kept arriving and while a few of them just got baked goods boxed up to go, most scored a treat at the counter and found somewhere to sit down and watch Lobo Marino's set. Whereas I had been "in the middle of everything" before, the duo took up far less room and the now-empty space in front of me was immediately claimed by a dozen people sitting cross-legged on the floor, some with coconut cream cake between their legs.

Unlike at the original, though, no hard and fast talking restrictions were announced, an opening two older women at the bar annoyingly took advantage of, despite that at least a third of the room was already so far into the music that their eyes were closed as they completely gave themselves over to Lobo Marino's soul-stirring world beats and damn fine harmonies.

Because I've been going to their shows for years, I always appreciate new material and tonight it was a song from their upcoming album recorded amidst the renovations on their urban farmhouse on southside.

"It's about remediating vines on your house and remediating vines in your mind," Laney pronounced.

When Jameson made a joke about how some neighbors were already referring to them as the "hippie house," Laney quickly shushed him. "Don't say that! Then we'll be the self-proclaimed hippie house!"

I'm pretty sure I've been referring to them, in the most complimentary way of course, as happy hippies for years. It's something I admire them for: trying to live the Foxfire life that young people in the '70s were and succeeding with a lot of it.

And they play great music. With Laney on harmonium, the rhythmic movement of her bellowing hand attracting the toddlers in the room, drummer Jameson pulled out his banjo for a song, his ankle bells and mouth harp for a couple others, as they took us through songs new and old.

Personally, I never tire of going down that path with them. When Jameson took out his mouth harp, he said it was to play exit music but who was going to leave while he did that?

Finally the bakery wanted to close and everyone headed out, my destination being the Gypsy Room at Vagabond to see a full band version of Yeni Nostalji.

Walking up Broad Street, I saw there was a show at the National. It was Minus the Bear, a band I'd seen 7 years ago at the National amongst a predominately male crowd.

That explained why I was seeing so many guys of various ages. Passing a couple of the middle-aged variety, the looked over repeatedly, probably surprised to see a woman in the vicinity. Then they looked some more. When I said howdy, they said hello and one inquired how I was doing. Good, I said, moving along. "I can see that!" one called after me.

Get out much, buddy?

About to go in Vagabond's door, I spotted two young women dressed like it was 1985 in cute little metallic dresses with combat boots and hair bows and I immediately told them how good they looked. "Wow, thank you!" they said. "You look good, too."

Adorable and polite, what a combination. As if they weren't already going to do well at a Minus the Bear show with ten men for every girl. Have a blast, girls. I did.

Not for me moody math rock tonight. Instead, I descended the stairs to the dark, atmospheric Gypsy Room for Turkish pop and love songs, tonight a quintet with Larry Branch working his keyboard magic to give the music a distinctive lounge vibe. It was very cool.

There was a large Turkish contingent at a big table and the bar was mostly full, but I snagged a stool near the end, next to a woman explaining that she was there because she'd been speaking Turkish and a man had recognized it and told her he was the drummer in a Turkish band. She'd even snagged a date whose Turkish was far better than hers.

I've seen the band as simply as just Christina and the guitarist Vlad, so having drums, bass and keys tonight was a real treat. Besides, if Dylan went electric, why shouldn't Yeni Nostlji?

Once they began playing with Christina's muted vocals in Turkish, her fluid hand gestures and the band smoothly accompanying her, the room's booker leaned over and whispered, "I think Quentin Tarrantino would like this band." He wasn't far off.

They did a lot of original material, along with a very well-known pop song from 50 or 60 years ago, and, lo and behold, some of the people in the room were rapt, singing along on the chorus. Two of the songs were written by Evrim, who used to be in the band before his bakery kept getting national awards and he was too busy to play Turkish music despite his ethnicity.

A loss to the music world, definitely, but the trade-off is stellar bread.

Christina, ever the low key charmer, announced that there were sheets of paper on which she'd hand-written Yeni Nostalji's pertinent information, in case anyone was interested in following them or finding out more. The entire room was disarmed.

I just don't necessarily know all of them anymore. And the scene rolls on...

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