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Sunday, February 5, 2006

The Swinging Orangutangs flumped back into action Saturday night, to a packed house at the Marietta Brewing Company. This cavernous, brick-walled space is the only music venue in town at the moment. Clearly, this is a town starved for live music. The huge bar was full by 9:30, and got fuller as the night wore on. People were standing three deep around the fringes of the seating area, and dancers bobbed and swayed at the front of the room. The crowd was great, and they sent us energy and good vibes. Drummer Steve McCarthy was tucked into a nook at the back of the stage, but he was en fuego. The thump of his kick drum and whomp of his massive toms compelled the crowd to move, and the Solid Gold Dancers improved the scenery immensely. Bill had a beatific grin on his face for much of the night.
He had an Elvis Costello look happening, with a 40-year-old pinstriped suit of his dad's and a skinny tie. When you play for four hours straight, you can amuse yourself mightily by observing the crowd, and I picked up on a peroxide blonde who obviously thought Bill was something special. Little does she know... Being the good wife that I am, I pointed her out so he could bask. Within limits, of course.

Bill's brother Andy fills out our sound with vocals, rhythm guitar and keyboard (the Hammond sound is my favorite).
We played a number of new original songs last night, with Andy and Bill both contributing. A measure, however unfortunate, of a song's hookiness is whether it sticks in your brain. I have two alternating brainworms; one written by Andy, and the other by Bill. Maybe they're radio-ready!
Bass player Vinnie Mele held it down all night, flashing his dazzling smile and adding ethereal harmonies. Singing bass players: fabulous. Cute singing bass players: Rare and doubly fabulous.
It was just amazing to see so many of our friends out there smiling and singing along, dancing and laughing. The bar manager came up to Bill and said, "It's so crowded in here that people are coming to the door, looking in and leaving!" as if that were a problem. Gee, we'll try to play crappy so some of the patrons will leave and make room for new ones...
Apparently they emptied the beer cooler twice during the night--remember that this is a brewery, with giant copper vats in the front windows. I'm guessing that's a whole lotta beer. It goes a long way toward explaining some of the dancing styles that evolved as the night wore on. I stuck to my thermos of steaming hot rooibos tea. Taking a gulp of ice water or beer when your vocal cords are all warmed up is about the worst thing you can do. I find it a lot easier to hit the highs and lows when I keep them warm. And a lot easier to drive home when I'm alcohol-free.
By 2 A.M. we were beat. We'd blown through more than thirty songs, most of them uptempo dance numbers. We finished the night with "Dark Side of Love," one of Andy's originals, "Essence" by Lucinda Williams, and "Can't Find My Way Home," a Steve Winwood song that's perfect for close harmony and peaceful goodbyes.
Bill stayed in town to be ready for his Sunday morning jazz gig (oh, he's a crispy critter by now), and I drove home in the snow, to fall in bed at 3:30 AM, lie awake, cursing the adrenaline still coursing through my veins, until 5, sleep fitfully for a couple of hours, and get up at 7:30 with the kids. Liam is still practicing flying leaps and cannot be dissuaded. He remembers to be quiet for about a half hour and then bumpbumpbump WHUMP! I can either jump up and yell at him every 20 minutes, or just resign myself to a bleary day. I'm blundering around looking forward to bedtime. But it's a good tired.
Many thanks to Shila for taking these woozy, psychedelic photos. Flash is so uncool. And Shila is anything but uncool.


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