Monday, November 22, 2010

Boomers in the Balcony

Playing catch up again… but I DO want to talk about the wonderful weekend of music we enjoyed at the beginning of November. On Friday, November 5, Jeff, Dan, and I met after work for some nosh and a concert by one of our favorites, Richard Thompson, at The Vic. He was touring, supporting his new offering Dream Attic. He’s such a fine performer, and he had such a wonderful band backing him—tight and loose at the same time, if that makes any sense.

Thompson is in his early 60s, so, as you might imagine, a goodly portion of his audience fits into that particular boomeresque demographic, although his appeal is pretty wide. There were a lot of younger folk down on the floor of the Vic. We, however, were in the balcony. And almost everyone up there with us was ~ahem~ of a certain age. When we took our seats (which were fabulous—such a great view of all the performers), I was kind of surprised at how old everyone up in the balcony looked. All that gray hair! I mean, this was a rock and roll show! And then, of course, it dawned on me. I have gray hair! Jeff has gray hair! Dan has gray hair! We fit right in! Har!

Now, a word about the Vic. It’s an old theater—a former vaudeville house—and if you go there to see a show, you will find that there is only seating in the balcony. The entire main floor is standing room. One of the major reasons, no doubt, that all us gray-hairs high-tailed it to the upper reaches of the house. I’ve spent many a rock show on my feet, dancing and grooving with the best of them. But I think—alas! —that those days may be gone!

Even Thompson noticed the differing demographics of the auditorium.

Well, even we oldsters could appreciate the marvelous and varied show—all two-sets-and-encore’s worth. The first set was from the new CD. The second was a “greatest hits,” although he did only one of the three songs we hoped we’d hear. That one was “Wall of Death,” a classic. The other two—“Keep Your Distance” and “I Misunderstood”—are personal favorites, but, well… can’t have everything you want! His rafter-shaking version of “Tear-Stained Letter” nearly brought the house down.

The next evening saw the three of us noshing again before yet another concert—this time it was Jake Shimabukuro at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Once again, we were seated in the balcony, although there really is not a bad seat in the auditorium of the Old Town School. Intimate room, great acoustics, excellent sightlines. The opening act, Boulder Acoustic Society, were very engaging. I ended up buying a couple of their CDs. Jake, though. OMG. What a uke player. A virtuoso. What a strum! There were times when he was strumming so quickly that his hand was a blur. He played a number of pieces in a host of styles, including his justly famous rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and he treated us to some sneak peeks at his new CD, out in January, I believe. Among those were also a couple of covers—a simple and simply beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and a comprehensive and amusing version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” for solo ukulele.

I left this concert knowing that I could never, ever hope to attain that level of virtuosity on the uke or on any instrument, but I was determined to try to lose my uke pick. He played without one, so I figured that must be the best method. And after all, when I first started playing guitar, I never used a pick. My first guitar was a classical guitar with nylon strings, and I always just strummed chords with my thumb or picked arpeggios with my fingers. I have, however, reconsidered this conviction. The way I play uke, it sounds much more lively and crisp if I use a pick. And so I will do so, from now on!

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

It HAS been a while, hasn't it?

I guess updates are in order…

First off, my mom has recovered completely. She’s back to her feisty old self (which is not nearly as old as her 92 years would seem to indicate). Once she was treated for the UTI, she came back to herself very quickly. That said, having my brother living back in the old homestead with her has been an adjustment for both of them. I think it’s still in the working-the-bugs-out stage, and I hope they can learn to live together in relative respect and harmony. Fingers crossed.

As to the rest of the last few months? Well, it hasn’t been a bed of roses, but it IS looking up. Maybe replacing my lost Ganesh keychain with another, more garish image of Ganesh has resulted in the removal of some recent obstacles, or maybe it’s just the passage of time and the swells and troughs of life, but I’m in a hopeful place right now.

Despite a very shaky employment situation, I remain employed (for now) and Jeff has a contract gig that will last through the end of the year. We can take some nice deep breaths and do our best to plan ahead.

We’ve made some home improvements, both planned (our lovely new balcony railing, which has made the balcony an actual living space after all these years) and unplanned (a clogged and leaking pipe that ended up setting us back by four grand… yep, four GRAND). But here’s the balcony:

And I’m making yet another attempt at getting into better shape, which includes workouts on our new cross trainer (lordy, but is that thing big—and we chose that one specifically because it was “space-efficient,” sigh) and restarting my on-again-off-again running program. I realize that I will need new running shoes in the very near future.

Jeff and I are still practicing our jigs and reels and tin-pan-alley stuff every night, and we’re tossing what is in the process of becoming a novel outline back and forth, each adding something and shepherding it along…

So that’s where things stand now: who knows what the future will bring? It’s been such a crazy year on all fronts that I have given up trying to figure out what comes next. There’s a certain calmness and strength to taking life as it comes, isn’t there?

Still... I’m still hoping to snorkel off the Big Island sometime before I get too old to stay afloat!

And I'm really going to try to keep this blog updated a *tad* more often!

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