Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dating 101

In one evening, I went from not having dated since 2003 to two dates in one night.

Is it morally wrong to have a date with one guy at 6 and another at 10?

I'd been in a relationship and out of this dating thing for six years and I'm not sure what the rules are anymore.

On the other hand, perhaps I should forget about the rules and just see what happens.

I'd forgotten how intoxicating it is to spend time with men so eager to learn me.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night...briefly

Got home from an enjoyable Matt Kearney show at the National just as the big, sloppy raindrops started to fall. As I opened the door to my house, an enormous crack of thunder exploded. There was the was definitely time for a walk.
I grabbed the umbrella and the dog and we headed out to explore the neighborhood even as the sky flashed with lightening. Neighbors I knew were sitting on their porches doing just what I was doing: experiencing a little midnight drama. It wasn't a hell-fire and brimstone kind of a storm that we were walking through, but just enough going on to disturb the skittish dogs and make our stroll more bracing than usual.
Already that front seems to be more distant- sounding, but the temperature has dropped even since I got home and the dog and I got a much more exciting final walk of the day than normal. A couple hours of music followed by three quarters of an hour of storm teasing made for a fine Friday night's activities. ..if you like those sorts of things. I do.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wooing of the Highest Order

For those seeking a little romance on a summer night, you have only a few chances left to see "Henry V" presented by Richmond Shakespeare Company in Agecroft's courtyard. Yes, "Henry V" is one of the history plays, and yes, it deals largely with one of England's important battles with France, but the play ends with Henry's lovely and terribly romantic wooing of Katherine. Whether you're watching with a significant someone or nursing a broken heart, you really can't help but be moved by the sincerity of Henry as he tries to convince Kate of his love; it's clumsy wooing and it's absolutely beguiling. What woman wouldn't be won over?

"And while thou livest, dear Kate, take a fellow of plain and uncoined constancy; for he perforce must do thee right, because he hath not the gift to woo in other places; for these fellows of infinite tongue, that can rhyme themselves into ladies' favours, they do always reason themselves out again."

If romance isn't enough of an incentive, there are several outstanding performances worth seeing. Phillip James Brown is back as Henry and as powerful as last year. Joseph Carlson as Pistol is a force of nature, at turns lustful, playful squeezing his wife, and then distraught when he learns that she is dead. But my favorite, again, was Brandon Crowder as Dauphin. Has a Richmond actor ever been so completely captivating to watch every second he is on stage? Even when others are speaking, his reactions, his gestures, his malleable face provide the most compelling kind of entertainment.

But take my word for it, the romance is what will stay with you. Or maybe that's just me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

All By Myself

After so much good live music last week, I've been in withdrawal this week (Tuesday's show at Gallery 5 did not do it for me, although I was happy to help support the worthy cause of Ugandan children). So tonight I will head to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to hear the Cowboy Junkies, albeit wishing I had some friends to share the show with.

I do love Margo Timmons' voice and I have always wanted to hear them do "Oregon Hill" live, so I'm hoping an evening of live music will provide the perfect musical distraction. Given that the band has been making music for over 20 years, I'm expecting an older crowd. It would be great if something wonderful and unexpected happens, but at the very least it'll be a beautiful voice and live music and for me, that's always a good thing.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday Supper at Six Burner

Even the unemployed can afford twenty bucks for a three-course meal so I met up with my beer geek buddy for their Sunday Supper.

I knew how wonderful these meals were but my friend was bowled over by the sheer amounts of well-prepared food that arrived.

We began with the Pork Pate with grainy mustard and cornichons.

Since everything is served family style, this appetizer arrived on a platter with six (six!) perfectly toasted baguette slices, each with a generous slab of pork pate, a sprinkling of micro-greens and a slice of cornichon.

The pate was divine and while I had to limit myself to only 1 1/2 pieces to leave room for the entree, my grateful friend scarfed up the remaining deliciousness.

Next came a turkey sized platter with scallops in butter, grilled asparagus, Romano beans and polenta.

You get to choose two side dishes to go with your entree and we were given a bonus third.

The scallops were perfectly cooked and both green veggies provided a crispy contrast to the soft richness of the scallops.

The polenta was the creamy goodness that we used to envelop the other three.

Again, I ate what I could and left the rest for my friend who kept crowing about how generous the portions were.

Dessert was lemon pound cake with a whole strawberry sauce and whipped cream.

The cake was as buttery as it was lemony and the perfect foil to the lightly cooked strawberries.

 It was so good, I didn't even notice the absence of chocolate, my usual dessert suspect.

All of this was accompanied by a 2007 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc I had chosen before my friend arrived (yes, I have a sentimental attachment to South African wines, but given their quality and price, why not?). 

Luckily, he approved of my choice (yea, yea, ripe fruit, crisp acid, fresh cut grass) and we worked that bottle right down.

I don't know what you usually do on the first Sunday of the month for dinner (this month's was on the second Sunday due to Broad Appetit last week), but Six Burner's superb offering is definitely worth checking out.

The staff teases me because I bring a different friend every time.

Go ahead make fun of me, but I want everyone to know about this great deal so it won't go away.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Second Saturdays Artwalk on Broad

I'm ashamed to say I didn't know about Second Saturdays on Broad...and I live right in the neighborhood. Basically, it's a second chance to catch the First Fridays Artwalk exhibitions if you were otherwise occupied on that Friday (I was at the Decemberists show).

I knew I wanted to see the Richmond Illustrators show at Ghostprint Gallery, which was just excellent. The illustrations ran the gamut stylistically and many had quite reasonable prices attached to them. I also checked out shows at Quirk, ADA, Visual Arts and Thanky Space. I even got a chance to stop by Gallery 5's yard sale and picked up a couple things to help support the very worthy cause that is G5. That stop gave me a chance to volunteer to help with clean up and taking the remains of the stuff to Diversity Thrift for donation tomorrow.

As I ran into people I knew and others I had the pleasure to meet this afternoon, it became clear that there are plenty of people who are busy on First Fridays but don't want to miss seeing what's new in the galleries every month. Hopefully the Arts District will get the word out to the community so that more people can take advantage of a free Saturday afternoon to peruse the latest art. And if you need further incentive, parking is a snap on Saturdays down here, Lift and Tarrants are open and serving and it's a great opportunity to check out the neighborhood in daylight. Jackson Ward's architecture alone is worth an afternoon's stroll, IMHO.

Leaving My Comfort Zone (the city)

Holmes convinced me to try the new Barrel Thief Wine Shop and Cafe on Patterson last night (he'd already been there) and while I prefer not to venture further west than Thompson Street, it was better than I expected. We shared a couple of bottles of 2007 Crivelli Barbera D'Asti and at only $16 a bottle, I was sold on the retail pricing aspect of the place. The wine had hints of cherry with strong tannins and went down smoothly.

We sampled the cheese plate (3 selections, which change daily, in good-sized wedges with bread and crackers) and the crab quesadillas and something they called a brownie, but in reality was a flourless chocolate chunk of heaven (and at only 5 bucks, a real bargain price for dessert these days). There was a 3-piece jazz combo playing (sax, upright bass and drums) from 7 to 9 or so and they added a nice vibe to the evening.

Will I go back? Location aside, well-priced wine is always a draw, so only time will tell.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Of Pheasant, Phone Numbers and Gay RVA

Yesterday was full of randomness for me. First I got invited to the Jenny Lewis show at the sold out 930 club. No thanks, I've had enough Jenny Lewis to last me a long, long time.

Went to Lift for lunch and ran into a bartender friend I hadn't seen in a while...who then asked if I'd be interested in meeting for lunch (so I passed on my number). While I was eating, a musician I had interviewed last summer spotted me and came over to catch up (turns out her husband is laid off, too) and got my number.

Walking home from lunch, I said hello to a guy sitting on his front steps. He was still looking for the "good" in the morning, he said. When I told him I'd been laid off since December, he bested me by telling me he was laid off last October. He's in the audio/video industry, so when he heard what I had been doing, insisted on getting my number so he could pass on some contracting work for local music shows. Sweet.

Dinner was Bistro 27 with the most amazing pheasant ravioli in a sage-butter sauce. It was so soul-satisfyingly good I didn't have room for dessert and for me, that's saying something.

Finished up at the Gay RVA LAunch party at New York Deli where my hard-working friend Scott was making the rounds. Scott is the organizer for the upcoming Richmond AIDS walk and he and I have spent plenty of time sharing stories about unemployment, men and life. We decided that next up is an afternoon at the river with much wine and lots more conversation.

I am not a phone person, have always hated to talk on the phone and used to avoid it like the plague. I have now shared my number with four people in the last 24 hours. Maybe I've become more of a phone person than I realized. call me why don't you?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'd Return to Cookie Mountain

I had been warned not to see TV on the Radio live; friends who've seen them said they disappoint in concert. Maybe this is just a ruse to keep more people from joining the audience at TVotR shows, but last night's show at the National delivered everything I was hoping for: arty, soulful, innovative music falling squarely into that post-punk sound of which I, personally, am so fond. Layer in some afro-beat rhythms and you have the recipe for a perfect evening of sound.

The band is far more integrated than the audience was. Considering some of the musical influences of TVotR (Stevie Wonder, reggae, Talking Heads, Prince) it would have been nice to see the kind of racial mix that I've seen at Prince shows. Even when the lyrics are profound and pointed, TVotR's music begs the audience to dance or, at the very least, move. We did.

I had a great time at the show, serendipitously sandwiching myself between two music lovers (one of whom asked for my number...!) so we could discuss the opener, Dirty Projectors (all those beautiful vocals, that intricate sound!) and the resurgence of 60s-influenced folk music that's so big right now. Between the excellent conversation and the stellar show, I now have to go back and question the friends who warned me against attending this show. Or maybe I just want to rub it in that they missed something really good...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Treble in Trouble

Punk rock? Indie rock?

However you label the music of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, no one can deny that it's smart music, topical and toe-tapping.

Last night's show at the Canal Club didn't have the amazing vibe that last years' show at Gallery 5 did, but it was definitely a good show nonetheless.

Leo told us right up front that it would be a show of mostly B sides and new stuff and then launched into an A-side, igniting the crowd's enthusiasm and not really letting go of it.

Local openers Prabir and the Substitutes did their usual melodic and poppy brand of rock and roll that they do so well.

The Washington Post's event listing has singled out these guys as a "Don't miss" performance several times now when they have played in Northern Virginia (inevitably mentioning their hipster haircuts), so word is out that they put on a great show.

And those of us who made a point to arrive early enough weren't disappointed last night (except in that Prabir has trimmed his magnificent mutton chops way back) either.

Now on to tonight's musical choices: TV on the Radio at The National, Band of Horses at The Norva or David Byrne at Charlottesville Pavilion?

Somehow I'll just have to choose...

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Sound Question

What is up with sound problems at The National lately? Tonight's Passion Pit show featured sound problems during Cale Parks' opening set and again during The Harlem Shakes' set (the lead singer went so far as to call out the sound guys, telling them to fix it).

Just last week there were sound problems at the Decemberists' performance and not long ago, the entire audience saw how peeved Neko Case was when there were sound glitches during her show.

As several concert-going people I know have now pointed out, there are plenty of good sound people in Richmond. How is it that sound is an ongoing issue at The National? All the backstage amenities in the world aren't going to lure bands if we get a reputation for sound problems. The Shakes' singer was right: fix it.

Food for Thought

What was good about Broad Appetit? Having 18,000 people come to my neighborhood to enjoy a beautiful day in Jackson Ward. The Sweetest Thing Bakery's coconut cupcakes (and their chocolate cupcakes...and, okay, their strawberry cupcakes). Being able to check out some of the galleries' shows in daylight.

What needs fixing with Broad Appetit? For a state with more than 140 wineries, how is it that the only wine choices at the festival were James River Cellars and Lake Anna Winery? And street/fair food vendors (gyros, corn dogs) had no place at an event that supposedly celebrated Richmond's best restaurants.

More than one person I spoke to noted that this year's festival felt dumbed down. With more restaurants represented, the variety of offerings was disappointingly blase. How many booths offered shrimp and grits? Crab cakes? For those seeking the unusual or creative, it was a real challenge to find them.

Of course, the important thing is that Broad Appetit benefited the Central Virginia Food Bank. But the bottom line is that if the event causes any of the attendees to come back to try some of the restaurants they sampled, it was a worthy event.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Hazards of Love

Ah, the Decemberists, a band that has long inspired strong devotion amongst its fans. Last night's show at The National was different, though, than the last time I saw the band in April 2007. At that show, the audience wasn't just completely engaged, they were respectful and absolutely silent during ALL of the band's songs. The ONLY noise the audience made was the clapping in between songs.

Fast forward two years and legions of "fans" have joined the Decemberists' audience and, unfortunately for the band and the devoted, these people did not hesitate to hoot, holler and talk during the band's performance of its rock opera, "The Hazards of Love" last night. Too bad, really, because the Decemberists' music deserves a listening room atmosphere in order to be fully appreciated. So much more complex and unique than your average indie act, this is , for lack of a better term, chamber pop, and there's so much to hear that is lost when people are shouting inane things like, "I love you!" and "woo-hoo!"

One of the sound guys told me that at a recent Decemberists' show in Atlanta, the audience wasn't just loud and shouting throughout, but actually climbing on top of each other. The band was completely perplexed as to how their music caused such a reaction.

I'm so glad I got to hear the band perform their opus live last night. I'm so sorry that the audience didn't shut up and show the band the respect such talent deserves.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

$7 Heaven on a Plate

Passionfruit Sorbet.
Coconut Creme Brulee.
Devil's Food Cake with Whipped Cream & Raspberry Sauce
All on one plate? This is one dessert?

Can I describe to you what a perfect combination of tastes and textures, all in the name of the sweet, this generous dessert was? Probably not.

I got a heads-up from the bartender about how amazing the sorbet was (and I believed).
I am a huge fan of coconut and it's not on enough dessert menus.
There was the requisite chocolate because it's not dessert unless it's chocolate (unless it's coconut cake).

Six Burner, this dessert combo scratches so many itches. Nicely done.