I’m with the band

John told me a number of times that I should go to Preservation Hall, so Tuesday morning I looked up the website.  I recognized the name of the guy playing that night (because I’m a big Harry Connick, Jr fan and a bit of an obsessive nerd, I happened to know off the top of my head that Shannon Powell was the drummer for his big band in the early nineties (We Are In Love is possibly my favorite album)), so I planned to go after work.  First set started at 8pm.  Unfortunately, I had to get through the whole day first.  I invited my coworker, who I’ll call Crazy (the only other person on this trip who actually works for my company – everyone else we worked with that week works for our client agency), and we got invited to dinner with one of the clients.  I didn’t particularly want to hang out with anyone from the agency after working hours (I was hoping to relax.  I didn’t want to be on anymore.), but I didn’t have a not-rude way out just then.  Anyway, she wasn’t interested in going to Preservation Hall.  I could handle dinner.

Dinner was uneventful, even boring, especially because Crazy bailed on me.  It started pouring down rain (like flooding rain – we could have swum down Canal Street), and she called to tell me she was staying in.  I had an teeny umbrella that barely kept my head dry, but nothing was keeping me from Preservation Hall that night, so I met my client coworker outside her hotel, and we ran through the rain to the Palace Cafe.  Got drenched from about mid-thigh down.  The food was good (I had andouille crusted fish – spicy and delicious), the conversation was boring, and as soon as I dropped client coworker back at her hotel, I headed out.

If you’ve never been, Preservation Hall (at least where the band plays) is this tiny little room with dirty wood plank flooring, a few wooden benches in the middle of the room (maybe four) and along the walls, a row of cushions up front, and some standing room in the back.  The entrances to the room are on the left side if you’re facing the street (and the band).  There are two doorways on that side, one near the front of the room and one near the back.  You go in through the back and leave out the front, and the doorway near the front is right by the band.  When I came in ($12 cover, and $2 for traditional requests, $5 for other requests, $10 for “When the Saints Go Marching In”, noted on a little sign on the wall behind the band), the band was playing, and as I passed the front doorway, I looked in, saw Shannon Powell (Shannon Powell!), and he waved at me and gave an enthusiastic “Hey!”  That was awesome.  I gathered he really liked to see people come in to hear him play.  There were a ton of people there already, so I joined the crowd in the back and found a spot where I could see.  Sort of.  If I stayed on my toes and looked over a guy’s shoulder.  Still, the music was awesome, and we all had a good time.  The set ended about nine, maybe a little before, and I stuck around for the next set.  I watched the people leaving talk to members of the band (Shannon Powell on drums, Lars Edegran on piano, Clive somebody on trumpet, somebody else on bass, and Scott somebody on trombone) as they filed past them on their way out that front doorway, and I decided I’d talk to Shannon and gush a little on my way out after the next set.  I found a better spot along the right-hand wall for the second set.  The crowd this time around wasn’t as lively.  I was the most enthusiastic person there, clapping to the beat, having a wonderful time.  Totally fun, and I decided to stay for the third set.  How often will I get to see this?  I’ll manage staying out late on a work night.  My enthusiasm didn’t go unnoticed.  After the second set ended, Mr. Powell came over to meet me.  Wanted to know who his fan was, I think.  It turns out he said hi to me when I came in because I look like someone he used to work with who left town a while back.  He thought she may have been back for a visit.  Yeah, that’s not me.  But still, I’m an enthusiastic fan.  He asked me what I was drinking (I didn’t have a drink), and I said nothing right now.  He beckoned me along after him.  We went across the street and stepped into a bar.  (Johnny White’s.)  I was feverishly trying to think of what to order that wouldn’t be either gross (to me) or totally lame (to him).  He asked, I said rum and coke, he said he’s drinking rum, too (rum and orange juice, I think), I said that sounds good, and he ordered me one.  And waved me away when I reached for my wallet.  He bought me a drink.  !  We chatted a little (where am I from, where are you touring next, etc), and he asked me if I wanted to hang out with the band later.  I panicked a little, said I couldn’t, I’m here for work, and I have a presentation in the morning.  Lies!  My presentation was the day after, in the afternoon.  He said something about getting my number so we can stay in touch and catch up when he comes to DC.  (I was thinking to myself that I was not that captivating during that conversation.  Still, he’s didn’t come across as sleazy.  Just friendly.)  Anyway, I regretted the presentation lie and decided I’d tell him I mixed up the days if he asked again.  (He didn’t.)  He said he’s playing at the Palm Court the next night (Wednesday).  I asked about it, and he said they have great food, great music.  I said I’ll be there.  We went back to the hall for his third set, and I took my spot back on the wall.  Good third set (the crowd was better than for the second set).  We all danced at the end.  The guy hugging the wall behind me thanked me on behalf of the band for being able to clap on the right beat (2 and 4 as opposed to 1 and 3 like a few idiots in the audience).  I tipped the band (as you do), and Shannon said “Palm Court tomorrow?”  “I’ll be there at 8.”  I headed out and walked back to my hotel, grinning like an idiot at everyone I passed (it was a little before midnight), and called Mindy to rave about my evening.  What did she want to know?  “What are you going to wear tomorrow?”  We have priorities.  It was SO. MUCH. FUN.

Cold in Kentucky

Well, the weather outside is chilly (not very frightful), but inside is nice and toasty, made more so by the Yuletide Fire DVD Mom got.

I had a very weird few moments at the Canadian Brass concert (where they played only a couple of Christmas songs) Saturday night.  They played Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which I know from their Greatest Hits album.  I listened to that album on repeat while reading The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through, by Stephen R. Donaldson, years and years ago, and ever since then, whenever I hear that album, I’m returned to that story.  That’s never happened to me with a live performance before, but it did Saturday night.  For the length of the song, scenes from the books were shuffling through my memory.  Strange.  But cool.

Then Jess and I stayed up to watch Love Actually and drink champagne.  🙂  Until 2am.

I wimped out on my run this morning.  I took Howdy with me, but I left my ear muffs and gloves behind.  We only made it three blocks before I decided I was too cold.  That was dumb, ’cause it’s going to be even colder tomorrow.  I won’t forget my ear muffs and gloves again, but I don’t know how much that’ll help.


I don’t feel like I did enough today, and I think it’s because I didn’t run.  I got out and ran some errands (bought a new thermostat, got the oil changed in my car, had copies made of the house keys for the new pet sitter (who we’re meeting tomorrow)), so I was at least, you know, active, but I feel like a slob.

Dinner, while delicious and healthy (kimchi, rice, lettuce wraps), was painful.  I have a cut on my thumb, just under the nail, and the rice vinegar and soy sauce in the kimchi hurt a lot as it ran over my hands.  Which happened with every bite.  John eventually gave up on the lettuce wraps and just ate rice and kimchi with a fork.  Next time I’ll make sure we have chopsticks.  This is the second time I’ve made kimchi (using Mark’s recipe – good recipe, Mark!), and it turned out pretty well.  John has already eaten most of the non-spicy batch I made for him.

Tomorrow Jess is coming over, and we’re going to see the Canadian Brass Christmas concert at George Mason.  John surprised me with tickets for this concert last year at the Kennedy Center.  He’s pretty good with surprises.  And the concert was great, so I’m very excited.  And Jess is coming over!

Canadian Brass is super cool…

…where “super cool” means funny in a musically geeky kind of way.  Oh, and really awesome.  The concert was great.  And it was a total surprise.  I didn’t even know they were in town.  By Friday I knew something was happening on Monday, but I had no idea what.  I got a call from my dentist’s office while we were driving to PA on Friday.  They wanted to know if I could move one of my appointments to Monday afternoon.  I was already telling them I couldn’t (because of work), when I noticed that John was saying that I definitely could not go to the dentist Monday afternoon.  Naturally (once I was off the phone), I wanted to know why he would all of a sudden care when I go to the dentist.  And he refused to tell me!

So I knew something was up but had no idea what.  And somehow, I managed to keep my curiosity in check all weekend.  Then it was Sunday night, and I started trying to find out if there was anything I needed to know.  You know, do I have be prepared for something?  Do I have to dress up?  Are we coming home after work or do I have to ready for whatever it is that morning?  I think I wore him down, so he told me before we went to sleep that he got us tickets for the Canadian Brass holiday concert at the Kennedy Center!  So cool.  I love them.

We left straight from work (fast food in the car for dinner) because I had to work until 6pm and the concert started at 7.  John got us box seats (!), so we were seated in the front row of the lower balcony level, stage left, in the Concert Hall.

All five of them (two trumpets, one french horn, a tuba, and a trombone) entered from the back of the hall, playing something slow (I don’t remember what).  They walked in step, in slow motion, in single file (I could go on) down the aisle towards the stage.  They were all wearing black suits with white Adidas sneakers and different color shirts.  They looked comfortable.  Fun.  Which is pretty much what they are.  Two of the members have been in the group since they started in 1970.  One of the trumpeters is only 20!  And he was GOOD.  Of course he was good, he’s in the Canadian Brass, but you know what I mean.

It was a really good, really fun, concert.  I love the way they sound, how it all blends.  Good surprise, John!

And on top of that, John got permission from our boss for us to take the morning off and not go to work until 1pm today.  He didn’t realize I had a dentist appointment at 10:20 and was already planning on not showing up until 1, but that doesn’t make it any less sweet.  So we slept in and had a lazy morning.  It was very nice.  And my dentist appointment was not painful, so that was good, too.  Once I got to work and the numbness wore off, my mouth started to ache, but hey, that’s what ibuprofen is for.  And I only have two more appointments.  This year.   This month, since it’s December already.  And now that I’m not hurting anymore, I can have turkey sandwiches for dinner.  Okay, one turkey sandwich.  And some leftover green bean casserole.  Leftover Thanksgiving food is not good for my diet.

The rest of the weekend

It’s Tuesday, and I still haven’t finished writing about Saturday.  I could say I’m a very busy person and I just couldn’t find the time, but that’s not really true.  I’m mostly just lazy.  It’s not even that (although that is certainly true).  I have a lot to do, so I feel like I shouldn’t be spending time on this.  See, that excuse makes me sound responsible.  🙂

Back to Saturday.  We finished the race, didn’t feel like we did very well, and all warmth we generated by running fled immediately.  So we hopped back in the car, turned up the heat, and went home.  We were meeting Greg, Amanda, Erik, and Margaret at the Maggiano’s at Tysons Galleria at 7, and it was just before 5 when we left the race.  No problem.  Added to that, though, is John’s desire to go to a bookstore to look for this Java programming book he couldn’t find at Border’s the day before.  So we got home, took relatively quick showers, and left the house right about 6pm.

News flash!  The race times were posted.  My official race time for the Herndon Turkey Trot was 29:59.  Can’t cut it much closer than that.  That’s a 9:40 pace.  And I can’t even say I’ll do better Thursday morning.  I haven’t run at all since Saturday.  We’ll see, I guess.

Back to the story.  The story without a point.  I really shouldn’t call it a story.  Tysons Galleria only has a Waldenbooks, so we went to Tysons Corner Center to see if the Barnes and Noble there had the book.  (I like links.)  We set the record (for us) for the shortest time spent in a bookstore.  That’s not the kind of record I want to be setting when it comes to bookstores.  But we did find the book.  And we were driving into the parking lot of the other Tysons right at 7pm.

We met Erik, Margaret, Greg, and Amanda and ate.  It was delicious.  Our movie was starting at 9, in the other Tysons, so we left in kind of a hurry.  Greg and Amanda got there first and met us in front of the ticket area with the news that the 9pm showing and the one after that were both sold out.  (We were trying to see the new Bond movie.)  Then Erik and Margaret got there.  Despite the fact that four of the six of us had actually been in this mall before dinner, none of us thought to buy tickets ahead of time.  And considering how little time we left between dinner and the movie, even if we had tickets, we probably wouldn’t have been able to find seats next to each other.  But whatever.  We decided to skip the movie and just hang out.  Always a good idea.  Of course, it took us forever to decide where to go and then to actually get there.  Without an actual schedule, getting us somewhere is like herding cats.  (I love that image.)  We certainly had a good time during all of the standing around, though.  🙂  We stood around at the theater level, then stood around in the Barnes and Noble (there weren’t any seats in the Starbucks there), and then we decided to head to the Silver Diner across the street from the mall.  Love that place.  John and I haven’t actually been there for real food since we lived in Reston, but we like it.  So we got desserts to share (John and I shared this really delicious bread pudding) and tried to get the table-top jukebox to play our songs.  We requested three, I think, but they never did play.

Margaret said the funniest thing, but I can’t remember what it was.  She was making fun of John, and it was hilarious.  Wish I could remember.  It probably wouldn’t be funny to anyone now, but still.

We left the diner a little after eleven, I think, ’cause I was fading.  Got our blender out of Margaret’s trunk (Thanks, Margaret!) and went home.

We didn’t have quite as many things going on Sunday, but it still felt pretty busy.  Actually, John didn’t have anything going on.  Just studying.  I braved the crowds at Wegman’s to get what we needed for the week and Thanksgiving.  I managed to get out of there in about an hour.  And then I headed to DC to hang out with Jess.  Yay!

We met up at this coffeehouse in DC, near Union Station.  Ebenezer’s.  Wait!  I parked about a block away, and on my walk over I was harassed!  I kept saying “accosted”, but John and I decided that “accosted” has physical connotations, and my harassment was only verbal.  These two guys were coming my way on the sidewalk – you know what?  I don’t want to go into the details.  It wasn’t a big deal, and I never felt like I was in physical danger or anything, but it was very uncomfortable and I was trying to walk away without making them mad (and I did), and I’m uncomfortable just thinking about it again.  So nevermind.

Jess was inside when I got there and she had found seats for us, so we camped out with our coffee and chai and chatted about who knows what for about 4 hours.  It was wonderfully pleasant, and we decided afterwards that we’ll have to do something like that regularly.

Sunday evening, John and I watched Reign Over Me, with Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle.  (We didn’t watch it with them…)  It was pretty good.  I think I liked it.  Adam Sandler was not his typically moronic self.  We had some issues with the DVD (it kept getting stuck) which made it difficult to stay fully engrossed in the story.  We eventually gave up on the DVD and finished it online through Netflix.

My dentist appointment yesterday was fine.  I kept expecting it to hurt, so I was tense pretty much the whole time, but I really only felt pressure and a couple of pinpricks.  Nothing bad.  But that won’t stop me from anticipating pain during my next three visits, I’m sure.  Also, I am now the proud owner of an electric toothbrush.  Fascinating, I know.  It should be done charging by now, so I’ll use it for the first time tonight.  Woohoo!

Chad and Jeremy

Last night John and I went to see Chad and Jeremy perform at the Barns at Wolf Trap.  Two things: if you ever listen to oldies, you know who they are.  Their biggest hits (and almost only hits) were “A Summer Song” and “Yesterday’s Gone”.  They played “Yesterday’s Gone” pretty early in the concert and ended with “A Summer Song”.  And I recognized a song in the encore (I hadn’t realized it was one of theirs), but naturally I can’t even hear how it goes in my head anymore, so I can’t tell you what it was.  The second thing is about the Barns.  That is such a cool venue.  This was only the second time John and I have been there.  The first was for an improv comedy show.  It really is two barns joined together.  The box office and the bar are in one barn, and they’re connected by a couple of hallways to the barn that houses the stage.  The walls are exposed wood, really big planks, and it has high ceilings.  We were sitting just under the balcony overhang last night, maybe 50-60 feet from the stage.  It’s an intimate setting, and the sound is really good.

Before the show started, when everyone was finding their seats, they were playing oldies over the sound system, and you could hear random people (myself included) singing along.  That was kind of cool.

So the concert started, and Chad and Jeremy came out on stage.  They talked about their career and played songs mostly in order.  They were quietly funny and quite self-deprecating.  They had some minor difficulties (took several tries to start some songs, had some problems keeping a string on Jeremy’s guitar in tune), but they handled everything with humor.  It was fun.  Pleasant might be an accurate word to describe the evening.  Mellow works, too.  Their “political” songs were iffy, at best.  They played two or three of those, and the lyrics were pretty bad.  That part reminded John of why This is Spinal Tap is so funny.  The patter in between the songs and some of the career history reminded him of why A Mighty Wind is so funny.

I mentioned the people singing along before the concert for a reason.  At a normal rock concert, people scream and shout and sing at the top of their lungs.  This was obviously not that kind of concert.  People did sing along (at least to the two songs everyone knew), but they did it quietly, almost as if they were singing to themselves.  It was very low-key and kind of funny.

And yes, we were the youngest people there by at least 20 years.