Thursday, December 30, 2010

It Takes A Village

Greetings friends! Hope this finds you well and surviving the holidays (whoa oh, we're halfway there!) And for those who got slammed with the snow, hope you've been able to entertain yourself while holed-up in your house/apartment/whatever. I DO believe it was for times like these that YouTube was created! LOL

Anyhoo, I wasn't planning on posting until after the new year, but this blog is mostly about my trials, tribulations and triumphs while following around my favorite musicians. So, I couldn't neglect sharing the "fun" that was my day yesterday.

For some reason, I have never seen Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA regardless of the fact that it is literally five minutes from my old apartment (I spent a year and a half commuting back and forth -- working at our firm's DC office during the week and spending the weekends back in NYC.)

I decided the time had come, so off I went to our nation's capitol.

Well, due to getting dumped on at work (what?! like getting dumped on by Mother Nature wasn't enough?!) I ended up not being able to leave for the show until the same day. No problem though - I've taken the bus ($30 round-trip!!) a zillion times without issue. Well, not this time. *rolls eyes*

The bus was late leaving. Then it took nearly 45 minutes to get out of NYC. Then there was a ton of traffic on the reduced speed NJ Turnpike. Then we get to the last toll in NJ just before you go over the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It was at that time, everything stopped. The road had become a parking lot. As the minutes ticked away, I kept looking at my watch and freaking out. We had managed to go 0.25 miles in 1.5 hours. This was NOT looking good.

I found myself reaching out to the internet via my Crackberry ... and through the wonder of Twitter and Facebook I attempted to keep some semblance of sanity (a preemptive SHUT UP to those who would insert a comment here. LOL)

Ultimately, a 4.5 hour bus ride became an 8-hour marathon. Ugh. But, I appreciate the dozens of tweets and fb posts from my wonderful (yet slightly wacky) friends. As a dear friend said, "it was like tracking Santa on Christmas Eve!" LOL

So...I'd like to say a few special thank yous:

- to @jeanie_ann for sending real-time point-to-point travel estimates via the I-95 website (" where are you now?")

- to @zoe211 for consistently sending me positive vibes/tweets/texts for hours and hours *muah*

- even to @jeffkazee regardless of his later admission that he was quite amused by my increasing level of angst (ummm...thanks a bunch for your support...I think)

But "good guy of the night" definitely goes to drummer Tom "Goose" Seguso who chivalrously offered to feign illness in an effort to delay the start of the show. Thanks Tom, you ROCK!

Now, as for the show!

I can see why the band (and many other artists for that matter) include The Birchmere in their list of favorite venues. There is definitely a warmth and intimacy to the place, even though it holds A LOT of people. And the place was PACKED ... totally sold out. (Yay Jukes!) After an "interesting/slightly frightening" cab ride from Union Station, I arrived at 8:29pm (literally only a minute to spare!) and totally lucked out to find a single seat at a table maybe 20 feet from the stage on the keyboard side.

The great thing about a Jukes show is that you'll never get the same thing twice. And I mean NEVER. There were so many great moments during the show last night that I wish I had filmed the whole thing.

Every band frontman needs a sidekick (for lack of a better word) to bounce things off of both musically and in terms of stage banter. And the repartee between Johnny and Kazee is one of the best around. Whether it's Jeff vs Johnny debating the value/spirit/wonder of Christmas or Jeff cheekily informing Johnny that after he brilliantly improvised a version of "Hold on William Searington" that the fan had actually requested "All I Want is Everything." Priceless!

On top of all the laughs was, of course, great music. The new material from "Pills and Ammo" continues to simply astound. I think it was one of the best versions of Cross That Line I'd heard yet ... and I've heard a few. I was delighted to hear When Rita Leaves, which was eventually played after the first attempt morphed into a fantastic cover of Ben E. King's Spanish Harlem. Making the whole transportation ordeal worth it was a breathtakingly soulful 2nd verse of my favorite song (Lost) sung by Mr. Kazee.

Due to where I was in the hall, I didn't feel quite as connected to the horn section as I usually do ... yes, when it comes to the Jukes, location is everything. Nonetheless, as usual, the guys played and "danced" with joy befitting the season and bari sax god Eddie Manion was incredible on Unchain My Heart.

After a good 2.5 hours, the night sadly came to an end ... but with an incredible performance of Hearts of Stone that left everybody in awe and wanting more. *sigh*

Luckily, I don't have to go thru too much withdrawal ... for Friday we ring in 2011 at the Count Basie in Red Bank, NJ. I can't wait to see what magic we get tomorrow.

So, wishing you all a happy and healthy, music-filled new year.

Note: By the way, the SSJ photos in this post are by the fantastic Jerry Frishman. Isn't that black and white one of Johnny absolutely GORGEOUS?! You can visit his website to see more of his work. :-)