My noble quest to spend less of my free time in my apartment continues!
Last week while I was shamelessly loitering in the area of St. Louis called “The Loop”, I came across an old guy playing trumpet on the sidewalk. After listening to him play for a few minutes (he was damned good), I recognized a Tom Harrell riff from the Bill Evans album, “When We Meet Again”. Mentioning that to him sparked a half hour conversation about the music scene in St. Louis and music in general. After speaking with me for a while about my perspective on music and different roles in an ensemble and discovering that I’m a drummer (and that I can read music, which, apparently is rare out here?) he takes my name and phone number and gives me his. A few days later, I get a couple of calls from drummers around town and now I have a couple of students in a town where I haven’t even touched a drumstick (the wooden kind, made for hitting drums – no fat jokes, assholes!).
So.. there’s that. This guy is in his 70s and has apparently played with Count Basie and a number of other names up in New York (I didn’t hear this from him – he didn’t talk himself up at all) and now I’m his best friend.
He recommended a few local venues that I hadn’t heard of for some good live jazz, as well as a few names of the local players. On Friday, I decided to go check out one of the venues he recommended – Robbie’s House of Jazz. With a name like that and the fact that they have a website, I am absolutely dumbfounded as to why I haven’t found them in any of my searches. Maybe I should offer some pro bono SEO consulting.
The place is a little hidden away, but actually in a really nice part of town (from what I was able to gather, anyway). They’ve got music almost every night and the cover is only $5 with a student ID… how awesome is that? The band was supposed to go on at 8:30 so I showed up around 8:20 to an empty venue that I would have thought was closed had there not been a band setting up. 8:45 rolls around and I was still the only person there other than the bartender. So these guys went on to play an hour and a half set for an audience of me. It was part awkward and part awesome at the same time. Since there wasn’t anyone there, they decided to play some pretty obscure tunes that don’t normally get called at gigs. It basically turned into a really informal jam session where I was able to freely talk to them and it was great! Around 10, the owner (a really sweet lady) came out and said that they were going to close down after that first set since nobody showed up. She was really cool and apologetic about it and even offered to return the cover that I paid – which I immediately denied. I just got to listen to an hour and a half of 4 really great musicians play me a private set for $5. And she still had to pay the band for the full gig (obviously), so I felt really bad. The piano player came over to my table with the owner and apologized to me about cutting the gig short. He told me that the venue is pretty hit or miss, but over all is a great place. He then invited me to an open jam session at a slightly more upscale venue on Monday night. He said he was looking forward to hearing me play (even though I hadn’t mentioned that I play). Apparently, during their set I was rocking out on an imaginary piano so he thought I played keys. Unfortunately, I’m going to be in DC on Monday and won’t be able to take him up on that.
Overall, the place was amazing. They have music almost every night – a weekly open jam session, a vocal night where anyone can sing, big band night, etc. They even regularly host local High School and College jazz ensembles, giving proceeds to the school’s program. There seriously isn’t a San Diego equivalent to this venue. From now on, anytime someone comes out to visit I will definitely be bringing them to Robbie’s.
Now, for movies!
Last night, I went to see “The Raven”
I had really high hopes for this movie and I think John Cusack is fucking awesome (mostly because of High Fidelity).
I went with a group of people to see it and everyone loved it except for me and this fat, obnoxious, moron of a woman. Considering how much of an idiot she was, I doubt her reasons for disliking the movie are worth examining. I think part of the reason for being such a harsh critic of this movie was that I thought it was a really cool premise and I had a very clear vision of how I wanted it to go, and… it didn’t really live up to that vision. This criticism is probably biased, but I don’t blame Cusack for the problems with his character (Poe). I think Cusack did a great job with what he was given, but I don’t think the writing and directing captured what they needed to. He’s the hero – I get that he has to be somewhat likable… but I wanted more emphasis on his wit and how eccentric and detached he was. Maybe not detached… maybe just that his perspective, while still absolutely valid, was extremely different from what was considered normal at the time. The guy is supposed to be a tortured, passionate, genius with an amazing imagination. I also wanted more out of the dialogue from the other characters too… it didn’t feel like much effort was put into making it feel like the mid 1800s in terms of dialogue.
It really was a decent movie and I think the costar, Luke Evans, did a great job. I thought he was great in the most recent Three Musketeers movie and also in Immortals. I think we can expect to see him in some more impressive roles in the future.
Today, I saw “The Hunter”
This movie was fucking fantastic. It was basically an hour and forty five minutes of gorgeous scenery and Willem Dafoe being a complete fucking badass. It’s the kind of movie that you really need to see in a theater – there are a lot of very quiet and very intense scenes and I think the viewer would really miss out on how suspenseful this movie is if they weren’t giving it their undivided attention in a silent theater with great sound. The movie is based on a book with the same title, and I swear the author must have been having wet dreams about Dafoe while writing it. Anyone else in this role would have ruined the movie and Dafoe absolutely killed it.
Personally, I thought that this movie was amazing. However, I would be wary of recommending it to everyone as I could see how lesser humans would find the movie slow and boring. There are a good number of important conversations in this film – many of which are monologues – that contain no talking. The silent scenes really grab you and also stand testament to Dafoe’s outstanding performance. There isn’t much violence either, despite how it may have been marketed. However, because (unlike most popular movies these days) you aren’t completely desensitized to the explosions, blood, and guts right away, the violent moments, however brief, have substantial impact. The sparse nature in which the violence is presented also lends to the feeling that these people are humans just like us and, as such, are fragile. It feels real. Watching your hero run around in the open while 20 people are shooting at him/her with automatic weapons and rocket launchers, only to escape the situation unscathed prevents that exciting sense of jeopardy that can resonate with real life and leave a lasting impression on the viewer. The Hunter definitely has something to say about Mortality and it doesn’t pull its punches. If you have the attention span for it and/or you appreciate quality films, go see this movie.
Now, since it is my sworn duty to expose good music to good people (and also to SP), BEHOLD:
*Note – If you don’t like at least two of these songs there is probably something wrong with you.
Howard Roberts – Girl Talk
Marlene Dietrich – Cherche La Rose
Lights – Siberia
Two Door Cinema Club – Undercover Martyn