Thursday, November 16, 2017

Back to You

The one thing you hate in life is drama, as your core personality is peace-loving. The defining feature of your personality, thus, is sensibility, dignity and wisdom, which you possess in surplus.


The sensible thing to do was get work out of the way first, meaning I met up with Mac (dubbed by a reader as "Mac and Cheese," which I love, especially since Mac detests mac and cheese) in service of my hired mouth.

Once I'd checked that box, we moved on to Ginter Park for House Story, a new combination tour and storytelling event, this time about a beautifully dignified 1912 house with a porch to die for on an acre lot. Running a tad behind, we arrived in the foyer just after the owner began sharing the history of the house with an attentive crowd.

I immediately found a place up against a warm radiator for a saga about the murder that had happened in the yard in 1919 when owner Robert Stolz's son, asleep on the porch on a warm, summer night, heard someone on the property. While it was only a neighbor and friend of his father, the son didn't know that and grabbed a pistol and shot the man three times.

They got him in the house before they realized they needed to get him to a hospital, but the neighbor absolved the boy before he died. Whether 1919 or 2017, readily available guns kill people.

It was a heavy start to the story of a fabulous and huge house - third floor servants' quarters, stand-up attic and basement, brick carriage house - built right on a corner lot on the trolley line. The house had been broken up into a rooming house from the '30s through the '70s, until it was turned into the first Unitarian church of Richmond, sadly with plywood covering the pocket doors and moldings.

A man in the crowd actually recalled going to church there back in the day. The owner said people still knock on the door and ask to walk through because they remember going to services in the house.

After the talk, Mac and I toured the house, agog at how all the moldings, trim and columns had survived in such excellent condition over 105 years ("Good caretakers," the owner insisted).

While looking at old layout maps of Ginter Park when it was a brand new subdivision, a man came up to me smiling and asked, "Did you walk over from Jackson Ward?" like he knew me.

No, I'd driven, but then he jogged my memory about our past conversation on Marshall Street so I'd get his joke. When Mac piped up and said she walked with me, he wan't buying it. "I see her, not you," he insisted. Explaining that back in Mac's unemployment days, she did walk with me far more often, our friend suggested she consider giving up work for walking, but her new car payment demands otherwise.

We parted ways after touring the expansive garden, she back to work and me, because I have wisdom, to Capital Ale House for music. I was surprised when I arrived to see how few people were there for Bedouine, an artist the New York Times said sounded like a future legend, the kind of singer you'll wish you'd seen back in a small venue like the tour she's on now.

I know I'd taken that to heart, especially after hearing the songs produced by Richmond's own Spacebomb, so I was thrilled to snag a table only three back from the stage. In no time, though, the room was at capacity.

The show began with local Andy Jenkins' musical wordplay, accompanied by guitarist par excellence Alan Parker. Favorite lyric: Being with you is like being stoned, I've gotten so good at being alone.

During the break after his set, I was greeted by a musician I hadn't seen in eons and was amazed to hear he'd never been to Capital Ale House for a show, especially given the eclectic nature of their programming. I pointed out that he was overdue and that nothing better was going on in Richmond tonight, so what else would he be doing if he wasn't here?

"Watching Netflix," he deadpanned. "But I can do that later." Hilarious.

Next up was quartet Howard Ivans, led by Ivan Howard, the guy who also gave the world the Rosebuds, a N.C. band I've long admired (and seen several times). Saying tonight is only the second night of this tour, they intended to play us some songs off their new Spacebomb record and then gushed about the talent of the Spacebomb band.

"Those guys really know how to play their instruments," he enthused, before launching into a song called "Denise" about Lisa Bonet and his inability to handle meeting her. The band was a pastiche of sounds with soulful vocals, driving rhythm section and atmospheric guitar that added up to neo-soul-with the occasional alt-country hint.

Favorite lyric: Show me the darkest shadows of yourself.

Things got lively and loud (or perhaps the alcohol was kicking in) during the break, but the second Bedouine walked onstage, acoustic guitar in hand, a hush fell over the room. She carefully set her cup of tea on a music stand placed next to her mic for just that purpose and began seducing the room with her voice and songwriting against a deep blue backdrop.

Just the way she could bend the word "honey" with her warm and emotive vocals was enough to feel your heart twinge. And her lyrics - more like heartfelt poetry - were like a look into her heart and mind. It felt like the world stopped when she began singing "Nice and Quiet."

All of the reasons to keep me at bay
Are the same reasons that I should stay

Despite not feeling up to snuff, she bantered between songs, sometimes with introductions ("This is my love/hate song to California"), other times with disclaimers ("This is not your typical pop song. It's like 1 BPM"). Between songs, she'd serenely sip from her mug of tea.

Announcing she was doing a song so new it hadn't been named yet, she asked for our help in suggesting names. "You have to earn your entertainment tonight." Afterward, when someone suggested "Sunshine, Sometimes," she said that had been her first inclination ("With a pretentious little comma in there") and then someone said "You're Still on my Mind," which had been her second choice (and my first).

About doing "Mind's Eye," she joked, "I've got one record and this is on it. You should buy it." After explaining that the record is only 37 minutes long and her set just a bit longer, she did "You Never Leave Me," a song that had been swapped out at the last moment. "Now that you're all warmed up, maybe someone has a suggestion for a better title?"

You can feel so far, but you never are
You never leave me

On the haunting and self-assured "Solitary Daughter" (a subject I'd know nothing of given my five sisters), she sang, I'm not an island, I am a body of water.

Guitarist Alan Parker returned to play with her for the final two songs, before which she took a sip of tea and said, "One final one for the road."

Several people recognized "Dusty Eyes" as soon as she began it and reacted accordingly. Afterward, she thanked everyone for being "so lovely and attentive" and closed with the enchanting song everyone from NPR to Pitchfork is raving about, "One of These Days."

If it's true that I feel 
More for you than you feel for me
It's stunning, honey, how love has some delays
Cause one of these days our love takes flight
We're gonna get it right
And get it right one of these days.
One of these days, you know I'm gonna set our hearts ablaze
If it's my last living deal

It was stunning. The New York Times had nailed it and I knew I was lucky to be there for such an intimate show.

Confessional tendency aside, I like to think it's not drama if your core personality is peace loving.

No comments:

Post a Comment