Monday, November 3, 2014

God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise

I know we gained an hour last night, but with a non-stop day and night, it sure doesn't feel like it.

Sunday slipped away in a haze of thought provoking film, noisy dining and mellow music.

I chose "Dear White People" to get the afternoon started, convinced after seeing the preview last month that it would offer a smart look at a still delicate subject.

Of course the crowd was small for a 2:40 movie with a smattering of black couples, but when a white couple came in after us, they chose to sit in the same row we were in, an odd choice given that most of the seats were free. So much potential commentary there.

As the film told the story of being black at an Ivy League school, one of the main characters spouted racial wisdom on her radio show.

"Dear White People, the minimum number of black friends required not to seem racist has just been raised to two." Whew, got that covered.

One of her comments was about how if white people are saying African-American instead of black, they're racist, a point I found especially satisfying. Having always used the term "black," I have been corrected a few times only to insist that there was nothing derisive about the word. Vindicated.

As the credits rolled, the screen showed news clippings from the past few years about colleges that have held blackface parties, a stark reminder that even in a time when the President is half black, we still have a lot of racial issues to address.

The movie was everything I want in a film: smart, funny and thought provoking with well-drawn characters and whip smart dialog. The kind of film I'll be encouraging people to see and wanting to talk about for a while.

The only downside of the entire movie was that I over-buttered the popcorn, something I didn't think was possible. Lesson learned.

With a goal of parking once and partying twice, we made our next stop 821 for dinner and they were busy already and getting busier all the time.

Tucked in a front booth with black bean nachos and 1800, we stuffed our faces and talked about the movie's message, agreeing that a second viewing would be in order.

The usual thrash music played in the background, our server was a friend who knew my order before I gave it and in what seemed like no time at all, it was the appointed hour to walk over to the Mosque Landmark Altria Theater.

It seems like it's been closed for ages for renovations but other than moving the box office to the Main Street side and adding fancy lighted marquees, we couldn't tell any difference at all inside.

The crowd was decidedly one that  doesn't go out often for shows (I'm guessing most of the people in the room had to get babysitters to attend). They were endlessly restless, too, getting up and down throughout the evening during the performances.

Call me picky, but I find that annoying at a seated show. No one would do that so often at the symphony.

That new marquee had said that the show was at 7 but once in our seats, we had to wait until way after 7 for the opener, Belle Brigade, to come out and begin our musical evening.

A brother/sister band (and she was the drummer!) with two other band members, they made sunny, rootsy music and inserted self-deprecating remarks in between songs.

"This is a song bout having big feelings for someone who doesn't have them for you," drummer Barbara said. "I hope you don't know what this feels like." Oh, but I did once.

"We're from Los Angeles, so we're sorry about this next song," she cracked. "It's a country song." They finished with the gorgeous "When Everything Was What It Was" about being kids and the night was off to a fine start.

During the break I spotted my long-time music buddy and went down to chat with him. Surprised to see him because I wouldn't have guessed he was a Ray LaMontagne fan, he admitted he'd been given a free ticket in exchange for reviewing the show.

Teasing him about what a good seat they'd given him (he was several rows closer than us), he whispered that it wasn't so great because he was seated next to the therapist he and his ex had seen for two years. Awkward.

Ray LaMontagne came out in a hat looking sensitive and intense, beginning an hour and a half of women (and even men) calling out their devotion to him. "I love you, Ray!"

Spare me. No doubt their book groups will thrill to their stories of seeing Ray.

There was a gorgeous backdrop, a big circle surrounded by curved lines onto which were projected colors, patterns and light throughout the set.

Although I love Ray's distinctive and husky voice, I'm not familiar enough with his music to recognize a lot of what I heard (beyond "Trouble," "Three More Days" and "Jolene"). That's not a complaint because there's a certain appeal to hearing music you don't know because it allows you to experience it with no expectations.

The first time I saw Neko Case ten years ago, I knew nothing of her music and I walked away in love with her voice and music.

But many of the fans clearly had a better knowledge of Ray's catalog than me, frequently calling out for favorites. Finally, Ray told them to be patient and asked if parents didn't teach their children patience anymore. Pretty sure they don't. Instant gratification and all that.

One of the best parts of the band's sound was the upright bass player's obvious talent. Ray referred to him as "Zacharias, a good man."

Given the number of amateur show-goers in attendance, we shouldn't have been surprised when so many people rushed out when the show ended. We waited the minute it took for the band to come out for their encore and only then made our move to leave.

Rounding out the night listening to "Dusty in Memphis" and drinking Desert Rose Cabernet Franc, I felt like I finally had time to relax, making for a fine, low-key ending to a non-stop day.

Where exactly did that extra hour go?

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