Friday, July 20, 2012

It's Time for Us to Celebrate

The new moon delivered me all kinds of unexpected pleasures this evening.

Walking into Bistro 27 for dinner, I found the only other occupant of the bar to be a familiar face.

I'd expected a solo meal and instead had an erudite and cultured friend next to me.

A former actor and opera singer who is as devoted to art and conversation as I am, he seemed as glad for the company as I was.

Over tuna tartare and scallops wrapped in bacon with lentils, I told him about all the recent theater I'd seen, knowing he'd not only love to hear about it, but also have insights.

He did, describing how cast members would gather to see certain scenes in a play night after night.

I was flattered to hear that he'd read my piece in Style Weekly about the French street photography show at VMFA and was on his way to see it after dinner.

After telling him what I'd liked about Woody Allen's new film, "To Rome, with Love," we dissected "Midnight in Paris," a favorite of us both.

We even discovered a shared passion for simple oceanfront vacations with an emphasis on open windows and outside showers.

Amazing how much you can cover between bites with only a couple of hours.

A discussion of the museum's Maharajah exhibit led him to recommending the "Flashman" book series (notable for the Flashman anti-hero, who had only three good qualities, one of which was fornication), which took us right up to the bewitching hour.

Then he was off to the VMFA  for street art and I to Gallery 5 for music.

Everyone was still in mingling mode when I walked in, so I joined a group for chatter.

A friend immediately told me she'd seen me on my walk recently and instantly recognized my gait.

"You've got the cutest switch in your hips," she said, explaining how I was so easy to identify near the Siegel Center. "I just plod."

I'm sure she doesn't but she does know how to maneuver a batteau and I don't and that's far more impressive.

Before long, we all moved upstairs to see Dave Watkins open the show.

I took a seat on the floor against the wall and Dave began his magic with his electric dulcitar and many looping pedals.

Barely one song in and the scientist came over to share my section of wall with me, sliding down to the floor next to me.

He sat his bag down, pulled out a bottle of water and then with a sly grin, pulled out a large candy bar labeled "dark chocolate with chili," holding it up so I'd see it.

It's certainly not the first time I've been at a show and he's offered me chocolate out of the blue, but I appreciate the gesture anew every time he does it.

He broke off a nice-sized square and I savored my heat-laced chocolate while I listened to Dave layering sounds of dulcitar strumming, tapping on the body, blowing into it and wailing on a drum.

When he did his one and only song with lyrics, "Pangea's Revenge," I saw a couple of people singing along in the audience.

His surprise tonight was covering Mogwai's "Helicon 1," with the warning, "There's going to be fuzz" and Joon Kim on violin.

Oh, there was fuzz alright and this fuzz-lover couldn't have been happier about it.

The crowd, which had grown to near capacity during his set, applauded thunderously afterwards, but not quite topping fuzz level.

During the break, I was talking to people when a photographer friend whizzed by.

"I gotta go now, but I want to talk about the movie!"

I've seen two this week, but given his predilection for dance parties, I'm guessing he wants to discuss last night's "Shut Up and Play the Hits."

And honestly, I'd like nothing better than to talk about LCD Soundsystem with another fan.

For Antlers' set, the lights were lowered to more atmospheric level, the better to suit their ambient, drone sound.

Which was actually pretty interesting for me, since it was in direct contrast to my unforgettable first Antlers experience.

Flash back to 2007 and the Silent Music Revival was being held at Rumors Boutique.

The place was packed, not only every square inch of the store, but the sidewalk outside as well.

Inside where I was, Antlers played an incredibly loud set while organizer Jameson rushed around with a roll of toilet paper, offering wads with which to plug our ears.

Even so, it was awesome music that took the silent movie being shown to another whole level.

Tonight's show had no drums or guitars and the volume required no adjustment, allowing me to get an update on the band's sound.


During the break, I complimented a friend on his natty attire, so different than his usual monochromatic uniform.

Smiling sheepishly, he said, "Well, I have someone dressing me now."

Judging by how much better he looked, it didn't take much figuring to guess that it was a girlfriend.

Bingo! He admitted as much.

And he's not even the first newly-attached guy I know to be suddenly looking far more attractively dressed.

Funny how that works.

Fashion statements acknowledged, we then got to tonight's stars, Lobo Marino, because it was their CD release show.

That fact was particularly salient to many of us in the room because we'd been in that very room on March 29th  when Lobo Marino had recorded that CD.

It was a homecoming of sorts.

Unlike last time I'd see them play, Laney was no longer killing her knees and back playing her new harmonium.

Instead, she'd made a cloth-covered stand for the instrument and used a pillow to kneel on when playing it.

They began their first song only to stop short because they couldn't hear each other and Jameson may have been singing a bit off key.

Moving closer, Laney said, "Okay, everyone, in the key of C!"

Everyone was Jameson, so it was a pretty funny moment.

They played a lot off the new album, including the lovely "Young and Old," which included Joon on violin, Dave on dulcitar and Mark on bass.

The winds carry our kites
When we are old, when we were young

Jameson talked about being on tour so much, since they are about to leave on an extended tour that will take them on a square-shaped route around the U.S.

"People have one of three reactions when we say we're from Richmond," he explained. "They say they know what a cool scene it is. Or they ask where it is because there's a Richmond in every state - Richmond, Indiana. Or they say, GWAR!"

As shining examples of RVA's cool scene, we couldn't do better than having these two represent.

They also deserves kudos for the variety of sounds they make.

And I'm not even talking about their basics: drum, guitar, accordion and harmonium.

Both Laney and Jameson wore anklets with bells that they shook for sound.

For one song, he played the drum with the end of the guitar's neck while he strummed the other end.

And he played a mouth harp, causing many smiling faces in the audience for its distinctive twang.

He also played a painted metal vase, having hammered the bottom so that when he played it, it had a steel drum sound.

That's some creative music-making.

Before doing two of their older songs to close, Laney apologized, saying, "I didn't mean to flash you. I usually play more accordion."

In fact, her floor-length silver floral dress over a black tank top was the essence of bohemian chic and no one had seen anything inappropriate.

Or at least no one is saying if they did.

After closing with the perennial favorite "Animal Hands," people flocked to the merch table to buy the new CD, "Kite Festival."

Naturally I was one of them since I'd been there for the recording, but I was still in for a surprise.

Inside the CD was a square of onionskin-like paper, the top of which proclaimed, "Lobo Marino Community Recording Project."

It was covered in names and drawings, a reproduction of the sheet we'd all signed that magical March night.

Let's just say it was a thrill to see my name.

And a complete surprise.

Somehow I've been lucky enough to have had my name on two other albums by local artists, but it's still an undeniable kick every time it happens.

Tonight it was the last of my unexpected pleasures and one I will be able to revisit every time I listen to the new album.

Like right now under a new moon.

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