Postmodern Jukebox

I don’t often write about music on here – we very rarely can justify spending ridiculous amounts of money on concert tickets, and it’s the kind of experience I can’t easily write about.   (Don’t get me wrong, I love music.   I played flute for most of my school career, and minored in music in college.     It’s just something I experience, and keep internally.)   Occasionally thought, I have enough of an experience that I have to talk about it.

The BF and I came to Postmodern Jukebox by way of their cover of Lord’s Royals.   (Featuring Puddles Pity Party – which is a whole other level of experience anyway).     Basically, they’ll take current songs of pretty much any genre, and turn them into jazz/doo wop/really good early 20th century big band – you get the idea.

Now, experience the first for this concert, is that it was part of the L.L. Bean Summer Concert series.

It takes the green in the central campus of a store compound that literally never closes to pull off a free concert series where you can put out a lawn chair at 8:30 in the morning, and be reasonably assured that it will be there waiting for you when you come back at 6:30 that evening.     Our friend D works at Bean’s, already had the schedule down, and he and A were planning on putting chairs out anyway, so we got really good seats, without trying.

 

Sadly, my shitty cell phone photos really don’t do justice to the concert, but it was a blast.     My personal favorite was “Sweet Child of Mine” – scatted, and with a tap dancing “guitar” solo.   (A made the most fantastic half laugh/half cry when she realized what song it was.    It got a standing ovation from the Gen-X portion of the crowd.)     The tap dancer actually took a song to himself – medley that started with Salt n Pepa’s “Push It”.

The last song was Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”, which turned into a medley of songs where everyone was able to sing/play any song they wished.    See the bass player in the picture right above?   He sang the Sponge Bob Squarepants theme.

So, pretty much perfect evening.     We walked off with two cds, because really, it was the least we could to do throw some money at them.     I’m happy with didn’t have to pay anything, but I’d also happily pay to see them in the future.

My Sauna, er, Summer Vacation

This summer’s trip was to Washington DC.     We built the trip around a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds concert, which meant we were crazy enough to go venturing into the craziest humidity zone known to man.   (Ok, that’s the entire South, and I did live in Florida for a summer, and I really did know better ahead of time.)

We flew into Reagan for the first time, which was exciting because it’s right on the Metro.    So naturally, we managed to get picked up and dropped off by car, after being excited about the public transport options.    We arrived on Tuesday, just in time to stop for dinner at the Quarry House Tavern in Silver Springs, which still has the best burgers.

Our first full day was Wednesday, which turned out to be the humidity-pocalypse.    Like it really felt like walking into a wall upon exiting any air conditioning.   No, really felt like walking into a wall.   Our initial plan had been to wander around Georgetown.   One walk to the metro stop about five blocks away, and our plans quickly changed to Smithsonian!    We hit the Air and Space Museum, and went to the Planetarium!   (Narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson!).    There were hordes of screaming children, and we didn’t care!

Next door to Air and Space is the American Indian Museum, and C had mentioned that their dining hall was worth visiting, so we went there for lunch.    The Mitsitam cafe features native style cuisine from several regions in America, and while a touch pricy, was really good.    Definitely a different experience in Smithsonian dining.      After lunch, we stopped by the Hirshhorn Museum, which is, well, a little weird.    It’s all modern art and installations – not really our cup of tea.     At that point, the humidity got the best of us, and we headed back to a pre-concert nap.    (This was the day we discovered the joys of Uber.   I want Uber in Portland.)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds was a great show.     Very hard to explain if you’ve never heard of him.    It was also the most devoted fan base I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen the Cure).  Like watching the front of the house felt almost like an anthropological study of something.   All in all, a great night.

The next day was much nicer, weather wise.    We hit the National Art Gallery in the morning, and did lunch at the food trucks at L’Enfant Plaza.    I had a great banh mi from What the Pho?    Our trip to the Hirshhorn paid off here – it’s about a block away from L’Enfant, and has tables in the shade, with a breeze coming from the courtyard fountain.   I may never go inside again, but those tables are our new ace in the hole for food truck lunch.    We had macarons at Paul on our way out to C’s place, where we met with the BF’s cousins, who were coincidently in town, and had food and drinks at the Looking Glass.

The next day, we finally wandered around Georgetown.    There will be a separate picture post of that, but for food, we stopped at Moby Dick’s House of Kebab, because there isn’t much kebab up in Maine, and it’s called Moby Dick’s House of Kebab!    It’s a fast foodish sort of place, probably a little on the plain side, but good.    For some reason, we had a macaron theme to this trip, and were forced to stop at Macaroon Bee, which was next door to the place on Wisconsin Ave where we had some afternoon iced coffee.    Their passion fruit macarons were awesome.    Actually, they were all awesome (better than Paul, though that’s to be expected).     Dinner that night, with C and the cousins, was at the Heights in Columbia Heights, another place we’d been to before, and enjoyed again.

Saturday, we had a little time to kill before the big event, which lead to the discovery of my favorite light fixture ever.

This was at Taylor Gourmet, a great, fast sandwich shop.    Exactly what we needed at that point, as we were saving room for the main event that evening.

The main event was Cantler’s Riverside Inn in Annapolis.    It’s actually across the river from Annapolis proper, in a residential area, on a creek.    It’s the kind of place were you first line up to park, and then have to line up to get into the restaurant.     You then order a bunch of crabs, they dump them on the paper table-clothed picnic table in front of you, hand you a mallet, and you go.

One Claw Down
The aftermath

It was freaking fantastic.    I was covered in Old Bay and crab juice by the end, and crabs are so much work I’ll never feel the need to do it again, but if you go to Maryland and eat seafood, you need to find a place like this, and go once in your life.    It’s awesome.    We finished the evening with a wander around Annapolis and ice cream.    It was an incredible day.

Sunday was for winding down.   We had a great brunch at the Coupe, watched C play some soccer, and had a pot pie from Dangerously Delicious Pies.   We were on the plan at 10:00 that night, and taxied into Portland just shy of midnight.     All in all, it was a great vacation.

Washington, DC

So we were in Washington DC from last Thursday to Tuesday.    The weather was gorgeous (though ungodly humid), and we had a really good time.    There was a fair amount of Smithsonian Museum viewing, and some really good food (Ted’s Bulletin, I’m looking at you!).    We also got to experience Friday Night Jazz at the National Sculpture Garden, which is the kind of experience my little city isn’t quite big enough to handle, and was therefore a fascinating urban experience, despite the fact that I do live in a city.

But the main reason we were there was to see Dead Can Dance at Wolftrap, which was an amazing concert.   I know of Dead Can Dance because of the BF, who’s had them on his concert bucket list for a long time.     Even though they coming closer to us in either Montreal or NYC, when we realized we could see them outside of DC, we jumped at that chance, because we could visit BF’s brother at the same time (and there is something to be said about free lodging when you can get it).

The concert was amazing.    We had fifth row, just off center stage seats, so we could actually see the people up on stage.    The venue itself is gorgeous.   The Filene Center is beautiful, and there didn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house.   (We actually watched the third encore from the back of the lawn area so we could sprint to the shuttle bus ahead of the crowd, and the sound was still amazing.)    The area’s actually a National Park, so we were able to wander around the woods a little bit before the concert.

Lisa Gerrard was wearing this gorgeous blue velvet dress with this gold tabbard style thing over it.    She must have been hotter than hell, but she looked regal.     The band sounded amazing.   If you’re not familiar with them, I can’t easily describe the sound, but they were as good or better in person as they are on their albums.

As a bonus, the opening act was a percussionist who was the kind of instrumentalist you often don’t give percussionists credit for being.    He did a solo tambourine piece that was absolutely brilliant.

All in all, it was a great trip, and I’ll be back posting flower pictures later.   Per my usual habits, there are way more of those than anything else…

Saturday Night

Last night, we headed up to the Boothbay Harbor Opera House to see George Winston. Winston composes a great deal of the music he plays, focusing on piano, but he also played guitar and harmonica last night.

Boothbay Harbor is about an hour north of Portland, and BF worked until 4:30, so we hoped in the car as soon as he got home and headed north. We ended up stopping for dinner at the Montsweag Roadhouse. It’s on Route 1 in Woolwich, just before the border with Wiscasset. I had the butternut lasagna special, which was wonderful. Instead of a butternut squash puree, which is probably the most common way it’s prepared in lasagna, there were chunks of squash between the noodles. I love fall vegetables.

The Boothbay Harbor Opera House is a really neat space. There’s a bar upstairs, which was the original meeting room for the local chapter of the Knights of Pythias. The bar opened an hour before the performance, so we had time to hang out and examine the surroundings. The room has a cool tin ceiling and various decorations pointing back to the knights.

The performance space itself held about two hundred people with a main floor, and a wrap-around balcony. The only bad thing about the space was the folding chairs. My back was killing me by the end of the concert. Everything else about the space was great. It’s perfectly sized for great acoustics, no matter where you’re sitting (we were only several rows away from the back on the main floor).

The concert itself was Winston’s winter concert, and started with a piece called “New Orleans Will Rise Again”, which was a great jazz beginning to the show. Some of the other other highlights were “Tammarack Pines”, which reminded me of snowfall, a medley of Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts music, a really cool harmonica jig which had the whole hall resonating with pounding floor boards as pretty much everyone kept the beat (I’m frankly surprised we didn’t have improve square-dancing) and a really great fantasia on the “Carol of the Bells”. It was a wonderful show, totally worth the extra long drive.

Loreena McKennitt

We went to see Loreena McKennitt last night, which was an absolutely heavenly way to spend a Monday evening. We’d actually already seen her during this tour last spring in Boston, as we had no idea she’d be making it up into our neck of the woods. Both shows were absolutely amazing, but I enjoyed last night’s show more than the Boston show.

At both shows, I was incredibly impressed by her voice. Her crew has managed to nail the mikes and instrument mix. Everything blends wonderfully. There are times you really can’t tell it’s a live show.

What I liked about last night was probably mostly based on the comparitive intimacy of the setting (Wang Center vs. Merrill Auditorium – two very different sized venues). She was a lot chattier last night, and told us a lot more about the songs when she spoke. I dare say she was having a bit more fun. (They had one of the crew come out during the encore to play with the band, something that didn’t happen in Boston.) I do love watching the band in action. They’re clearly having a blast.

The highlight of last night had to be “The Highwayman”. This is a song that on the album, I tend to lose track of in the middle. It’s long song, but last night, she nailed it, and I was pretty much on the edge of my seat listening. In the climatic verses, she managed to put more feeling in each verse, just when you thought she’d reached the top of her vocal crescendo. It was incredible, and made me respect that song a heck of a lot more.