Friday, July 29, 2011

Like Sugar on My Tongue

You'd think that people who had been naked for a week wouldn't get nervous about much.

Butt tonight's Lobo Marino Homecoming show dispelled that theory.

The Firehouse Theater played host to a show of three Richmond favorites, all with wildly divergent sounds: Allison Self, Homemade Knives and the returning heroes, Lobo Marino.

The house was slow to fill up and the show didn't start on time, but once chanteuse Allison Self opened her mouth to sing, all that was forgotten.

If you haven't heard Allison before, it's a shock when you first hear this twenty-something's voice, because it sounds like a vintage 20s or 30s record, maybe something from Lucille Bogan's era.

Although she did a couple of original songs, Allison leans toward covering classic Americana and did so tonight with excellent choices by Loretta Lynn, Gillian Welch and the Memphis Jug Band while accompanying herself on ukulele.

During the break, I was talking with friends about the next band, Homemade Knives. A story was told about a  friend who brought tissues to their show because, she said, "Their songs make me weepy."

There is something heart-breaking and sad about HK's lyrics as well as Will Loyal's earnest and low-key vocals, especially with Anousheh and Jonathan's beautiful harmonies behind him.

Will commented that he took up the guitar late and didn't seem to be getting any better at it.

"Are we in tune?" he asked Jonathan, who answered affirmatively.

"He's the one who knows," Will acknowledged.

Late in the set while Jonathan was playing guitar and harmonica, his holder suddenly slipped.

Without missing a beat, he caught it and returned it to the upright position in time to play the next note.

Afterwards he asked rhetorically, "How was that for a harmonica save?" Pretty damn impressive, actually.

Favorite lyric: "I will hold you like sugar on my tongue."

Both Jameson and Laney of Lobo Marino had mentioned during the break how nervous they were, which seemed odd considering how many times I've seen them play out and how many friends they had in the audience.

Taking the stage, Laney noticed a lot of new faces in the crowd and introduced themselves, saying they were just back from tour.

"We've played all over the country. I've never been as nervous as tonight," she laughed. Playing in front of strangers carries no stress compared to playing for friends apparently.

In between playing songs like "Pope's Nose" and "Animal Hands," they told stories of their travels.

Describing the creepiest place they'd slept brought on stories of a bar in Florida near the lake where the alligators were relocated when Disney Land was built.

Adorned with decapitated baby dolls and zombies on the ceiling, a woman in the bar told them that the place used to have a spirit living there, but that she'd cleared it out. Laney said she'd slept just fine.

She also acknowledged LM's third member, multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel (banjo, drum, trumpet, to name just three) who had joined them for part of the tour before returning to Virginia.

Addressing her remarks to Nathaniel's girlfriend, she said, "Thank you for loaning us Nathanael. He missed you so much. It was pathetic."

Who doesn't want to hear that they were missed? Certainly not me.

For us long-time LM fans, it was a thrill to be treated to a new song written while the band was in California with no clothes on.

For a week they were staying at a clothing-optional commune, which had nothing to do with optional, as Jameson explained. "That means no clothes."

There among the giant redwoods and the nudity, a new song was written. Tonight was its debut.

"That proves we were productive on tour," Jameson said afterwards about the beautiful song.

The next time I'm struggling with low productivity, I think I'll strip down and see what it does for my creative juices.

Let's just say I've been inspired by the Homecoming King and Queen of Lobo Marino.

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