Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Jonathan Richman

We saw Jonathan Richman on Sunday night at One Eyed Jacks down in the quarter, and it was a great show.

Not as great as the show we saw at the Southgate House back in Cincinnati, but still quite tasty. We were talking after the show, and both feel that Jonathan got lots more radio support in Cincinnati. We never hear him on the radio here, and radio here is arguably superior in many ways, but there are some notable exceptions.

The before-the-show hassles were extremely frustrating, but we managed to not let it ruin our evening before it had begun. I had expressed a desire for an artery-killing cheeseburger earlier in the day, M----- concurred, so we decided to go down early and eat a late dinner at the new Fatburber in the old Jax brewery-mall, which was mere blocks away from the venue.

I munched some celery around dinnertime to assuage my appetite without blunting it while we watched the Tony awards waiting for the song from Spamalot, and was mightily hungry when we hopped in the car around 8:30. The show ostentably began at 10:00.

It had been raining heavily all day, but the TV weathercritters claimed that it would be ending before showtime. Indeed, there was but a light sprinkle when we departed.

We even found a street (free) parking spot right by the pay parking lot, which was a close to the diner and only a few blocks away from the venue! Amazing luck! Looked like a great evening was beginning...

Right as we were parking it started to rain something fierce, but we were listening to a very cool radio show, so we waited a bit until the rain let up. Which it did, so we started walking... and then RAIN... and we got utterly soaked... but it was warm, and so close to the restaurant... which was just closing as we got there. Grrrf.

As it was still raining hard, we sat under the awning and considered options. M----- wasn't really hungry, but I was, but I couldn't really think of anything nearby which sounded good, so we decided to just trek onward to the club, and waited until the rain let up a bit. It did, a bit, but we got much wetter.

One bitch... the artsy New Orleans balconies which are cast iron rails with balconies built from slats of wood are certainly pretty but crappy rain awnings! The wood slats seem to focus the rain, so that there are fewer raindrops, but underneath these balconies when you're hit with water leaking through it's much more water at once. You get the annoying illusion of being under cover but without much benefit.

At the club, the doors weren't open yet, and there weren't seats available in the foyer bar, so we waffled. And had a long while to wait since dinner fell through. And now the show wasn't starting until 10:30...

My blood sugar began to make me cranky, but I was sincerely trying to not be a jerk about it, which I am wont to do when that happens. I've been known to get highly irrational when not fed, and need to keep on top of it so as not to turn into a raving asshole. But it was really raining hard, and that was making me as cranky as the food issue was. *breathe*... *calm*

We tried to walk up a couple of blocks to check out what might be available when there was a break in the rain, but that just seemed to call an even harder rain squall which trapped us underneath a narrow awning half a block away from the horror that is Bourbon Street.

I was really looking forward to the show, and I knew M----- was really really looking forward to it, so I was honestly trying to not throw a mood on the evening, and I knew my food issue was irritating her.

At this point I decided to be cheerful by force of will if not blood chemistry and we went back to the club. Where the doors still weren't open. I eventually asked the doorman where one could get a quick bite to eat, and finally went down and got some fries where he recommended, which cheered me up immediately. M----- noticed me being more cheerful and that cheered her up!

Soon after this we were let in, and got to see the new decorations of the club. Last time we were there, to see X, the hall was laid-out in some unsuccessful barn decor, which severely didn't work at all with the hipster aesthetic they tried to project to the public. Now under new ownership, they've done a wonderful punky whorehouse motif which we both loved. The velvet nudes up beyond the lights were a nice touch.

One nice thing about the rain was that the show wasn't very crowded. The floor was full but not packed, which made for an intimate energy. We were right up next to the stage, and Jonathan and Robbie were close to the front edge, so things were nice and immediate. He played some of the hits, but lots of the evening was given to improv work. Some of it worked, and some of it didn't, but that's improv. "We try to split the evening between songs we know and songs we don't know."

I wonder if they would have done the same if they weren't in New Orleans, where such things are respected? He certainly didn't seem to in Cincinnati. Nice contrast, but he didn't play Hang On Sloopy here. I like it when I see gifted performers twice and each show is unique. Reminds me that I'm not seeing an amimated jukebox, but a real, live performer, and that this show is unique and very different from any other show. That's the kind of performance which is worth paying for!

However, I totally missed the blonde who was dancing and falling out of her dress, which M----- mentioned during the intermission. Teach me to pay attention to what's happening up on stage! I looked for her during the second set but it seems that the alchohol had shifted gears on her in the meantime and she just sat in the back.

During the intermission, when the band just walked out into the audience and bought a round of bottled water for their friends, we walked up two feet and sat on the edge of the stage. I had to watch where I put my hand so that I didn't move the bass drum mic. I got to peer at the box drum Robbie the percussionist played, which had a fantastic sound. It had a better snare and bass sound than his drum kit's snare and bass! It was a box he sat on to play the drum kit, but frequently he'd reach down and play it hand-drum style.

Turns out it was a Cajon La Peru, a version of a cajon box drum from Latin America.

The last time I saw Bela Fleck and the Flecktones play, Future Man played a box drum magnificently, and it's nice to know what they're called.

Oddly enough, the cajon is very popular in flamenco music, and today M----- asked me to research flamenco rhythms because this weekend she wants to attend a flamenco dance workshop!

Now I'm going to have to look into making one for us.

It's interesting to learn that drums don't have to look like "drums" in order to sound nicely. Then again, anyone who has turned over an acoustic guitar and played bongos on the two tones knows this...


Blogger tom naka said...

We had been blogging trying to find how our world sees american restaurant. It has been a lifeline for us. Your site provides some of the best examples of this sort and we will bookmark yours. Another one we found was and appears to be related to yours is american restaurant site/blog. It pretty much covers american restaurant related stuff.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Flora said...

The cajon box drum is generally believed to have come from Peru and Cuba. It wasn't until the 1980's that the instrument came to Spain where it quickly caught on, particularly in Flamenco music. More info can be found at http://www.cajon.org

10:35 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home