Thursday, April 16, 2009

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Weeknights are usually quiet, but this week I've been out two nights already. I was staying over at the Quincy house to get some painting done, so friend and neighbor Tom B. and I went to Cambridge to catch the Session Americana Tuesday night music residency. We arrived at the Lizard Lounge at 8:15 and were the second and third persons admitted. This meant front row seats next to the sound man. We ordered up some beers and sandwiches and watched the crowd settle in.

The band went on promptly at 9:30, working around the table until each of the four usual soloists had done a song. The crowd was smaller than the one for St. Patrick's Day, but just as intense and not as annoyingly talkative. Tom was fascinated by the set-up, since he is attempting to put together an acoustic group himself (he just bought a Dobro to go with his Gibson 12-string, Martin Dreadnought, acoustic and electric basses, and two ukuleles).

As 11 o'clock approached, Ry Cavanaugh invited song suggestions, and I called for "Water (Never Runs Uphill)". The band obliged, playing the song as the second of three requests, then finished the set with The Band's "The Shape I'm In" and their own "Beer Town".

Back to the North Shore on Wednesday, I traded in the jeans and T-shirt for a dark suit to accompany Kathy to a Nordstrom's grand opening. The department chain had decided to use the occasion to recognize three local charitable groups, including Kathy's Friends of Beverly Hospital. The event included live music on the first floor, a Deejay and fashion show on the second, with food stations and open bars on both.

We took glasses of champagne and watched the band for a while, a capable cover band with three singers and a horn section. We went to the second floor where the deejay was pumping out hip-hop flanked by two trios of disconcertingly tall and thin models who shifted insouciant expressions and flouncy poses every thirty seconds or so. My sense of disorientation was alleviated when I located a food station that featured raw bar items--raw oysters and littlenecks always make me feel more at home.

I took a meander through the men's clothing section and gaped at the $76 price tag on a Vineyard Vines tie. To restore a sense of reason, I looked at a store label tie, which I expected to be cheaper. One hundred and thirty-six dollars. Huh?

Nordstrom's deserves credit for using its grand opening to honor local charities, but don't expect to see me shopping there. Water--it never runs uphill.