Thursday, August 31, 2017

Harmonies of the I Love My Life Choir

Our cork popped before we even had time to be the squash.

The bottle that couldn't wait could be traced back to Greenleaf's Pool Room, where my date and I landed after quality time on the balcony with glasses of Fazio Aegades Grillo and Todd Rundgren providing the soundtrack.

One of the many pleasures of Todd - besides the obvious: major talent - is the sheer pleasure of the liner notes. It's there we can glean who played the kalimba synthesizer (Brent Bourgeois) versus the spooky synthesizer (Roger Powell) and that Bobby Womack, the Dick Bright Strings and the I Love My Life Choir all contributed to "Nearly Human."

Thus fortified with obscure musical trivia, we set our sights on Greenleaf's Pool Room for dinner. Long a casual favorite of mine, it was my date's first visit and he fell for all the same things I do. What's not to like about low banquettes for lounging and colorful paintings of pool-playing greats by a Mexican artist?

Seeking a bottle to take with us to a show afterward, we decided on Treveri Blanc de Blanc before diving into a simple supper of tomato soup and the bar toast known as Tout de Sweet - goat cheese, herbs and housemade orange marmalade on toasted Billy bread (me) - and an oddly-shaped yet completely delicious Monte Cristo complete with housemade berry jam (him) to accompany it.

When we'd arrived, only one pool table was occupied, but as we chowed down, three other tables were taken over by players, many arriving with their own pool cues in zippered cases. It's great entertainment for the eating masses.

Although we were running out of time, I decided I couldn't do without a warm brownie (actually, two), although I did forgo the optional shot of bourbon on it. A woman's got to know her limits.

After the bartender fashioned a cork for our remaining bubbly, we were off.

Then it was across the river to the groovy Earth Folk Collective for their 3rd annual squash roast gathering and by then darkness was falling (damn you, Autumn!). A fire had already been lit and people were gathered around it when we strolled up the long grass walkway.

Standing near the house chatting, there was a sudden pop from the bag my date held and that makeshift cork took off, never to be seen again. But the pop was a pretty festive way to announce our arrival.

Further in, my date ran into a musician he knew and introduced me. "Are you two married? she asked, making both of us smile at the unlikely question. No, but we have been dating for almost 90 days, if that counts for anything.

After that, there was nothing to do but grab some jelly jars from the kitchen and spread our blanket near the campfire. As it was, Juan Harmon was already playing in the twinkle light-festooned shed that faces the yard and serves as the stage. We'd heard their mellifluous accordion/guitar/drum music just a few weeks ago at Scuffletown Park, but it was lovely to hear it again.

After their set, Fa Bra took the stage to lead anyone interested through some squash-inspired yoga in the fading light. We watched as people stretched to grow like a squash and eventually to become the squash. but we stayed rooted on our blanket sipping bubbles.

D.C.'s Elena y os Fulanos were up next, a treat because Elena's songs were bi-lingual and reflected the immigrant experience. "I love that you can be an immigrant and an American at the same time!" she gushed. She also explained that she'd been on tour for a while and had lost her hair gel, so her 'do wasn't up to par.

From a nearby chair out of the lights sat percussionist extraordinaire Rei Alvarez, effortlessly playing maracas and guiro to Elena's songs. I tell you, that man is a Richmond treasure.

The view from our blanket was about as wonderful as you'd expect, what with a campfire with a rack of squash roasting and lights strung on Laney and Jameson's little blue mobile home, the shed and arbor, all under a sky of cotton batting-like clouds with the moon doing its best to make its presence known.

Fa Bra returned to tease us into squash again with a pose that looked to involve the squash folding over on itself. I didn't do it, but I did imagine myself as a squash.

Last up was a feast of girl voices with Whatever Honey, who told us right off the bat that they hadn't played out in a year. You couldn't tell it by the harmonies they put out. As my musician companion noted, there's just something more complex about female voices singing together than males.

Leaning back, listening to the gorgeous harmonies and guitar playing while the scent of candles filled the air, we could have been teleported back to a commune in the '70s, it was that kind of easygoing vibe.

No mellows could be harshed when voices this angelic are being sung to the night sky. With apologies to Elena, I love that I can be a Blanc de Blanc sipper and an old hippie at the same time.

And not being on tour, all my hair products are present and accounted for.

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