Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tapping a Vein

Seven days (or more) without live music makes one weak. Or maybe that's just me.

My plan was to correct that tonight with a picnic, a companion and an unseasonably temperate evening. That the music was served up al fresco made it all the better.

With a bottle of wine already stashed in my bag, we began at 8 1/2 to score heroes and chocolate/orange cookies. Waiting for our sandwiches to be made, we perused the DVD collection on the shelf, a motley assortment that ranged from "Castaway" to "Nirvana Unplugged in New York."

The park was only lightly populated when we got there to find "Please Stay off the Grass" signs on every plot of grass, so we made do with a wooden bench with a distinctive sag to its center, as if very heavy people had taken turns positioning themselves at the midpoint until the wood just took on a deep curve. It was kind of like an old mattress with a dip in the center that makes the people in it roll into each other all night long.

You know what I'm talking about.

Eating our Italian heroes while people watching - one adorable couple showed up with the game Scattegories, spread a blanket and immediately began playing to win (she didn't believe french fries was two words and made him Google it to check) with a friendly vengeance.

Our enthusiasm was reserved for the killer sandwiches we were eating. I swear you could put shoe leather on a roll that chewy and satisfying and it would taste good.

The crowd continued to grow while we ate and chatted from our bench perch and included a fair number of dogs, toddlers and tattoos.

We watched in amazement as a couple scored a bench and then decided to spread a blanket on the bricks and sit on the ground instead. I know, I know, it's not a real picnic for some people unless they're sitting cross-legged. Not us.

The park had filled up nicely by the time Majjin Boo was introduced and the quartet- acoustic and electric guitars, bass, male and female vocalists - began seducing the crowd with their pastiche of math rock, emo and experimental ("If they had a drummer, they'd be prog rock," my companion noted) as the sun inched toward sunset.

Despite the au naturel setting, the band was using battery-powered amps, so the music was amplified a bit more than a lot of the shows I've seen in the park. At one point, they mentioned an upcoming show at Gallery 5 and referenced their drummer, who just happened to be walking into the park at that second and waved as he went by.

After a beach week sadly devoid of live music, hearing Majjin Boo's songs with their quirky time signatures, intricate guitar interplay and two voices harmonizing acted like a tonic on my live music-deprived soul. I could sense the musician next to me enjoying the band on a far different level than I was capable of, but everyone looked happy with music playing on a cool June evening.

The woman singer did a solo turn, singing Florence and the Machine's "Dog Days are Over" not as the powerhouse anthem that band does, but as a sweetly wistful song about finding happiness, probably on a night like tonight.

As twilight set in, fireflies appeared and some of the younger children tried catching them in their cupped hands but to no avail. That's one ritual of childhood that cannot be replaced with an app or device. Or if it can be, please don't tell me about it.

All I know from sitting in the park with a fellow music lover as dusk gathered is how badly I'd been craving live music and how much like an emergency IV tonight's show felt in addressing my shortage.

When the woman doing the introductions mentioned that the music series is already five years old, I marveled at the thought since I've been attending practically since the start. Not every week, but consistently over the years. Regularly because it's an easy default on a weeknight and never disappoints.

Um, music in the park? Yes, please.

It's one way of making sure my soul doesn't fall into another music deficit. Didn't some wise woman once write that I'm only as strong as the last show I saw?

Well, if she didn't, she has now.

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