Monday, August 27, 2018

Wailin' Jennys in Some Dump

Was just sitting there at work minding my own business on a Wednesday when WUMB sent an email offering Wailin' Jennys tickets to the first few who answered.  So I answered (as did Sarah, a little later), and I got a pair of ducats to see them Thursday night (8/23) at Sanders Theatre.

Well, we'd never seen them before, though I've been enjoying their music for years.  And we'd only been to two things at Sanders Theatre.  Don't get me wrong, it's an incredibly beautiful place in a building (Memorial Hall) built as a monument to the Civil War in the middle of frickin' Harvard College, the oldest college in the World (ok, the Western Hemisphere).  The whole place is built out of wood as intricately as a Chinese puzzle box and the sound in the theatre is like melted butter over just the best toast.  But the seats in it can be as uncomfortable as in Fenway Park and you're crowded and jostled and sometimes it can be hard to enjoy.

But whatever ... we were psyched and it was a beautiful Thursday night and we got a great parking space on Mass Ave. and walked through campus to get there ... apparently freshman orientation had started already.  And the amazing thing was that we jostled through the crowd and got our tickets and they said "Orchestra Row C."  We'd stumbled on free tickets to the concert and they were third row center, up in the quasi-pews where the seats were comfortable ... and the people next to us never showed up so we had plenty of room.  I never knew a Brahmin could be this happy!

Comfortably ensconced and the three Jennys (with two male accompanists) came on ... left to right Adam Dobres on guitars and mandolin, Heather Masse on bass, Nicky Mehta on percussion and guitar, Ruth Moody on guitar, banjo, and bodhrán, and Richard Moody (Ruth's brother) on fiddle and mandolin.  And this was a wonderful two (short) sets of music!  The incredible setting put a little pressure on the band however.  Moody referred early on (sarcastically) to what a dump they were playing in, and Mehta said bitterly that they'd just started a tour and this kind of ruined it because how could it get any better?

As I say, the Jenny's have been around for a while and know their craft, and they sure made that hall resound, with assists from the crowd when they called on us.  They do some traditional songs, some modern country songs, and some originals, and all of them featured meticulous arrangements which fit their voices like a calf-skin glove.  For instance, they did Zevon's Keep Me In Your Heart with not a trace of the bombast Zevon didn't need any longer when he wrote it, Simon's Love Me Like a Rock like your mother singing you a lullaby (they're all recent mothers), Petty's Wildflowers, Emmylou's Boulder To Birmingham, and on and on.  Masse did a song she had written as homage to jazz standards, which could have stood up with any of them.  And Moody closed with their anthem, One Voice, with the Sanders Theatre ringing with us all echoing as one voice.

Just a wonderful, out of nowhere, night of music!  And a pleasant walk back to the car through a humid Harvard night, and then a slow drive back past the Mystic Lakes.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Crimson, White, and Brookline Ave.

The year rolls around to Jerry's birthday, almost in the middle of summer (8/1).  And they were showing another GDMUATM!  We actually didn't get tickets to it right away ... we'd seen so much good stuff lately that another late 80s stadium video was not immediately overwhelmingly appealing.  But then we realized that ... what the heck ... we'd really enjoy it anyway and we got tickets.

This was the concert (at soon-to-be-demolished JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, 1989-07-07, the next concert after the Truckin' Up To Buffalo concert) released as the Crimson, White, and Indigo record.  They apparently released the DVD with it, so this wasn't exactly an unreleased video ... in fact, the opposite.  But the album/video was out of print so kind of it was ... but just re-released the album/video and was trying to get us to buy it, so maybe it was another shameless cash grab.

Whatever, that's all kind of besides the point.  I was delayed at work but had a pretty quick trip in to the Fenway area and parked on Van Ness and met Sarah and Dave at Yardhouse for another excellent dinner and couple of beers.  Didn't have to rush more than a modicum to make it across Brookline Ave. to Fenway 13, got another beer, and settled into our comfortable stadium seats just in time for the movie to start.

The sound could have been louder, but the seats were fine and we had a great time!  Here's the setlist:

set 1:
Hell In a Bucket
Iko Iko
Little Red Rooster
Ramble On Rose
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again
Let It Grow
Blow Away

Very short break, being a movie ...and then:

set 2:
Box Of Rain
Scarlet Begonias
Fire On the Mountain
Estimated Prophet
Standing On the Moon
The Other One
Wharf Rat
Turn On Your Lovelight

Knockin' On Heaven's Door

Wow, that was really fun!  Phil was in complete nerd garb, Bobby was wearing his short shorts but also sneakers and socks ... no full 80s kit, and Jerry was dressed in what he woke up in that morning and was playing that Tiger guitar like nobody's business.  I had recently told Dave about going to see the Dead and how as much as you knew you were going to see the best band in the world, at least 50% of the rationale was to see the greatest guitarist who ever lived.  And of course Brent was at his peak (that Blow Away "live" was incredible) and the drummers were inscrutable.

As much as I loved the first set (great Dylan song and many other highlights), the second set was just riveting.  Box Of Rain could have been better, but that's what Phil sounded like back then and the playing was superb.  And the Scarlet > Fire was just fantastic, Standing On the Moon was iconic, and then we got to enjoy a booming TOO and a surprisingly good Wharf Rat, not to mention the surprisingly good Lovelight, with Bobby being really tasteful instead of over the top.

And the encore was another great Dylan song!  Very fine icing on that cake.

The theater had been full, mostly with middle-aged people (I had to direct one of our row-mates back to the theater from the bathroom before the pic).  Dave was by far the youngest I saw in there.  And when we all stumbled out and queued up for the men's again after the flick, the young bearded guy right behind me mumbled, "What movie just got out??"  I filled him in and he was stunned.  "I would have loved to see that!" he said, "Do they publicize these things?"  I told him they did but you probably had to be on the right mailing list.