Thursday, March 26, 2015

At Home in the '60s of My Mind

The hand stamp said it all: Get well soon.

Not that there was anything wrong with me, but how could I not qualify for better after a night of kick ass world music?

My day played out productively, but I didn't even leave the house for dinner until after 8:30, stopping at Garnett's for a farmer's salad and the New York Times, a quiet meal at the counter.

The funniest moment unfolded when a neighborhood man came into pick up his take-out order. When he asked for a piece of the buttermilk pie sitting on a cake stand on the counter, the girl went to lift the top off and it went flying (cracking on the floor even) and the pie would have slid off the counter if her nimble fingers hadn't snatched it back at the very last moment.

All three of us looked at each other big-eyed and then burst out laughing. Hell of a save, honey.

Given my late start, I had no time for dessert, barely making it to Balliceaux in time to pay the piper, have my hand stamped with "get well soon" and head to the back room which was already mostly full.

Familiar faces abounded: the former neighbor and his date who recalled meeting me at the Mozart Festival ("I was wearing my puffy coat that day"), the organizer who's no longer a platinum blond ("Too much work!"), the film guru ("You need to see 'Wattstax.' You'd love it"), the printmaker and her DJ husband.

As many times as I've seen Yeni Nostalji singing another memorable set of Turkish pop songs from the '60s and '70s, this was the first time I'd seen them playing '70s Turkish movies behind them (with an occasional tag, "Nostalji TV").

Such wide bell bottoms. All the men had Burt Reynolds-style mustaches and all the women feathered hair. Even in Turkey? Who knew?

Their sound is completely distinctive with Christina and Evrim's voices playing off each other so well and Marlysse's keyboards adding just the right accessibility to the songs while Rey and Tim's rhythm section tie it all together.

After the first song, Christina was talking to the audience when Evrim excused himself and said he'd be right back. "That's my worst nightmare about being onstage," she joked. Or not.

He returned and they carried on with a song "from all the way back in '82!" before saying they were going to do an original song.

That's when the comedy really began. Evrim couldn't find his capo so while Christina sang a song a capella, everyone frantically looked around onstage for it. Afterwards, she made a plea to the audience to lend them a capo if anyone had one.

"This is my second worst nightmare," she said.

With none forthcoming, someone offered Evrim a pen and a rubber band and he McGyvered a capo so they could play the next song. A song later, someone walked up to Evrim's mic stand and clipped a capo on it.

When the song ended, Evrim plucked it off saying, "Oh, look, there's a capo right here," as if it had been there the whole time.

It was when Christina debuted her new song - "It's about loving your enemy" - that two couples began dancing in front of the stage.

Behind me, I overheard two girls discussing the movie and it was clear they'd both seen it before. "What was his other movie?" one asked about the Burt Reynolds lookalike. Turns out the local Turkish community was out in force at the show tonight.

Before the last song, Evrim thanked everyone for putting up with all the mishaps. "Thanks for making us feel at home in the Turkish '60s of our mind."

And, you know, it's exactly that Turkish '60s of their mind that keeps me coming back to hear them play.

During the break, I mingled, hearing cracks about how at future Yeni Nostalji shows the audience will all bring capos just in case. I was introduced to the bass player and talked about movies and music. A guy came and stood beside me, marveling when I showed him he could put his drink on the ledge above rather than risking it underneath a chair on the floor while we were dancing.

It's not my first rodeo, I told him. "Mine, either, but I can still learn new tricks," he said/ That makes him a role model for his sex then.

I'd never seen Afro-Zen Allstars, although I knew the bass player, trombonist and one of the sax players (and recognized the guitarist), hardly surprising given the incestuous nature of the music scene in Richmond. New to me were the other sax player, the drummer and the percussionist.

Honestly, they were barely into the first song, their Ethiopian funk settling into a groove so deep it was startling for its immediacy, when people began dancing. They might have played one or two songs that weren't Ethiopian, but even those followed the groove.

And a mighty groove it was. I loved how sinuous the sound was and while I never made it as far as the main dance floor, my little area of the floor served as my own dance floor. Nearby, a guy was sketching the band, putting his pad and metal Juicy Fruit box of pencils down periodically to go dance, too.

A white-haired man in slacks and a sweater vest danced non-stop, finally stopping to remove his hat and wipe off the sweat streaming down his face. The hat stayed off but his dancing kept on.

The undisputed star of the dance floor was a blond woman in beige church lady pumps and a denim skirt the size of a band-aid (read: way shorter than mine) who had a way of dancing that was part Prancersize and part pole dancing. She was very popular to dance with, I'll say that much.

So while she had partners and I did not, I feel quite sure she didn't have any better a time than I did.

Unless blonds really do have more fun, in which case I'll never know. Too much work, I hear.

No comments:

Post a Comment