A special thanks to Gary Calamar for creating and curating this fantastic music series… To Julie Slater, Jason Friday and family for letting me hang at their table… to the Federal Bar… and of course to Matt Pond PA and Cranky George for making some kick ass music.
And yes, to get it out of the way… I did ask Matt Pond if he could get us some extra chairs. In my defense, I only got a profile at first, he was wearing black and is much skinnier in person. That’s my argument and I’m sticking to it… and oh yeah… Sometimes… SOMETIMES… I am an idiot. Especially because I LOVE Matt Pond. His music is moving and beautiful and at least I got to tell him that. So yeah, I got to ask him for chairs AND tell him how much his music means to me, especially his song “Someone’s Daughter” which is at the top of a playlist I made for my own daughter, Julianna. This song continues to deeply move me.
Plus, he wound up using the chair story to get a good laugh on stage, so I can also say I helped him write a comic bit. So there!
“With the right music you either forget everything, or you remember everything.”
This is one of those great quotes that I have seen posted from time to time, on many of my friends Facebook pages… especially and obviously from the music lovers. Thanks to Nancy for reminding me of it… and texting it to me… multiple times… 😉 That’s technology for you.
But seriously, it is one of those quotes that just captures the power and meaning of music… Either we use it to escape our everyday lives and perhaps some pain and heartbreak… Or we remember every detail of every story that goes along with a great piece of music.
The first time I told a girl I loved her… Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell was our soundtrack.
When she dumped me on the public phone of my frat house… I kid you not… Genesis’ “Throwing It All Away” was blaring from the living room stereo.
And one of my go to, my life is not nearly as bad as these guys, but I want to forget everything for a while albums… Tears For Fears The Hurting.
But that was then… and this is this past Sunday.
First off, this series is free. Hello!
Second, you get a free Mimosa. Hello, again!
And the food to order is pretty good, so there’s that. The room is comfortable and the sound is great… though I did want to turn around a few times and tell some really loud talkers to shut the f–k up. What is with people? Why are you at a concert or performance, and literally trying to SHOUT ABOVE THE BAND??? I just don’t get it.
Anyway… a free show means you have extra pocket-money to buy MERCH! Though Matt and the band left before I could get my blue t-shirt and new CD… Doh! They were rushing to get to their Vegas show, so what can you do. (And no, this particular shirt is NOT available on their website. I checked.)
The last time I was at this music series I got to see Eric D. Johnson from EDJ and Fruit Bats and the always wonderful, funny and brilliant Peter Himmelman… who I just saw this past Saturday night.
For some reason I have missed a few shows in between, which kills me… but I am now back in the saddle.
This particular incarnation of Matt Pond PA was a lean trio, with Matt on vocals and guitar, Shawn Alpay on cello and Mel Guérison on violin, guitar and amazing harmonizing vocals. His songs are always smart and would fit into any number of movies or TV shows… they just have that weight and descriptive quality, and the ability to set or create a mood. I would almost describe his music as happy sadness, or gorgeous melancholy… and there is always a beautiful, lush quality to it.
His newest album, 2016’s Winter Lives is a mix of originals and covers, and it is easy to see who his influences are, especially with who he decides to cover.
We also got to hear Laura Burhenn from The Mynabirds sing with Matt on a tune from the new record… which was a real treat. I highly recommend checking them out, too… and just like her turn on Sunday, her vocals are stunning and ethereal.
Cranky George is anything but. They are a fun, trippy, lively and eclectic mix, with the energy of a Flogging Molly and a more fun, party version of DeVotchKa.
The band features Pogues accordionist, James Fearnley on vocals and guitar as well, brothers Kieran Mulroney (violin, guitar and foot cowbell) and Dermot Mulroney (mandolin, cello and foot mini-high hat), amazing music producer Brad Wood on bass (His credits will blow you away), and Sebastian Sheehan Visconti on drums. Many may also remember the Mulroney brothers from their previous and killer band, The Low & Sweet Orchestra.
To let the boys tell it, they play “lullabies, sea shanties, murder ballads & foot-stompers”… and yeah, my feet did not stop stomping!
I was very excited to see this band, since Dermot Mulroney is not only an actor and a musician I admire, but was a few years ahead of me at Northwestern, and was one of the inspirations for me wanting to pursue and be a part of the Mee Ow Show. (The big student-run Improv/Sketch Comedy show) And yes, he is as nice as he is talented… the whole band is! So Go Cats!!!
And of course, spending time with my college buddy, Dean… a talented singer/songwriter in his own right, was great icing on the cake… Hey, wait… we didn’t have cake!