It’s the music I miss most. Live music. In a club or small theater.
As for restaurants, bars and friends – well sure, I miss them too. And giving tours and hanging art in public squares and meeting new people. But it’s the damn music begone that leaves a hole that’s hard to fill.
When this whole damn thing started, my partner and I amused ourselves by watching – and contributing to – local musicians who had been forced to (anti)socially distance themselves from live shows and went virtual in their own personal venues (living rooms, mostly.)
And that was a feel good. For a while. Seeing our friends online performing in intimacy. Donating what we could to help out. Zooming in and out of a virtual Frenchmen Street.
My partner and I have fallen into a bit of a nostalgic rut recently, remembering the one thing we always did – more than restaurants, art markets, festivals or any other such public events and places.
Locally, we’d go see Micah McKee’s regular gig on Thursdays at the Blue Nile and John Boutte on Mondays at d.b.a. There was Pat McGlaughlin at the Hi-Ho Lounge down on St. Claude, Dustan Louque at the Marigny Opera House. And Paul Sanchez, Alex McMurray, Susan Cowsill, Jim McCormick and anybody else who was playing at…at…at.
Damn it’s been so long, I can’t even remember its name. What the hell?
Chickie Wah Wah! That’s it! Ah, memories. (If only I could remember them.)
But we also made at least one monthly venture out to the great theaters in this city. The Saenger, the Orpheum, the Civic, all magnificently restored structures since Katrina’s destruction.
Prior to 2020 (ah, what a year to forget) we saw Bryan Ferry, Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, the Old Crow Medicine Show, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (killer show; absolutely killer), Joe Jackson, Harry Shearer.
We did do one big arena show, a necessary nod to a bucket list item, Paul Simon at the Smoothie King.
There were others. A whole bunch of others. These shows basically comprised our entire social life. I guess you could say we were kind of voluntary shut-ins before everybody became involuntary shut-ins. But the live music was our juice. That got us up and dressed and ready.
Nobody our age had “parties” anymore. We’d hit up a local bistro from time to time – Adolpho’s, Liuzza’s, the Blind Pelican, Lola’s. And we’d make obligatory trips to Jazz Fest, Voodoo and Bayou Boogaloo. But those live, intimate theater shows were our jam. Our butter. And our bread.
Getting our tickets months in advance, clicking in on the laptop the day they went on sale, doling out stupid amounts of money to get the best seats in the house, but reveling in every moment with no regrets.
Well, except for that 20 minutes I fell asleep at the Bryan Ferry show, but hey – I actually had gainful employment back then. So I was a little tired. It happens. Plus, he writes incredibly seductively sleepy music. I don’t think he would have been offended.
And before you judge, then tell me you’ve never in your life taken a nap at Jazz Fest.
OK, point made. The point being: Damn, like everybody else wishing for something else other than what we’ve got, I wish the jam and butter and bread were back.
I mean, I can’t stand sax solos, but I’d kill to hear one right now. And yeah, yeah, there’s Zoom. I get that. Been there and done that.
It just ain’t the same as putting on big boy pants and shoes – and maybe even a jacket (she: make-up, headband and hippy T-shirt) and fighting like hell for a parking spot downtown and racing to the venue thinking you’re late – but you’re not because, well, musicians – and grabbing a drink at the bar and stumbling around in the dark on steps you can’t see to find your seats and shushing the couple in front of you for talking too much and then talking too much yourself and thriving on the sounds of your favorite bands and performers.
I know this all sounds pretty depressing. And that’s because it is. They tell us it will all come back some day. But then again, all those aging performers who have already taken three “retirement” tours – only to tour again – might actually be retired now.
And so it goes, 2020 into 2021. Things can only get better, right?
Oh, that reminds me, we also saw Howard Jones.