first Katydids of 2011
Friday, July 29 2011
This evening Gretchen had a whole evening planned starting with dinner at Yum Yum, the new noodle place in Woodstock, followed by a performance of local folk musicians Mike and Ruthy (formerly of the Mammals and, in Ruthy's case, a scion of a folk music dynasty). Gretchen lured me into accompanying her for the evening by dangling the prospect of dinner at Yum Yum, and she knows how much I love that place from having only gone there once. So I agreed to go, though I had my doubts I'd enjoy a sit-down Folk Music show at the Kleinert.
When we arrived at Yum Yum, there were bruise-colored clouds on the mountain just to the north and we feared a downpour could start any minute. Yum Yum is small and stuffy indoors, but, fearing the rain, Gretchen tried to arrange indoor seating for six (two other couples would be joining us: Michæl and Carrie (friends from KMOCA) and Ray and Nancy). But there was some sort of logistical screw up and another table (one having only four people) was given the indoor table instead. In the end it didn't matter; the storm passed to the north and not a single drop of rain fell.
I ordered a dish based around tofu, eggplant, and brown rice and ended up finding it kind of meh. I should have ordered the noodle bowl; Ray's looked delicious.
The Mike and Ruthy show at the Kleinert turned out to be more enjoyable than I expected. Many of the songs were beautiful and melancholy, taking advantage of the two performers' intense chemistry. A note begun on a guitar would often find its way seamless over to the fiddle and then perhaps into a sung phoneme. I was struck by how delicately they would sing or play, sometimes barely voicing a note or plucking a string, creating wispy atmospherics to contrast with more vigorous passages. This was particularly true when Mike played the banjo; many of its notes would be difficult to identify: were they damped-out harmonics or string noise? And Mike's stomping on the floor often sounded like the rumble of a accompanying bass. The main problem with the performance was the general absence of stage charisma. The way Mike moved while playing looked like a caricature of a musician; all he would have needed to complete that look would have been a white man's overbite. They could have also benefited from darker, mopier energy; their happiness and love for each other was just a little hard to take, as were the constant stories about the baby they'd had together. But maybe the problem was that I was too sober; normally I have a beer in my hand when I'm watching a performance of live music, but the Kleinert sells nothing but organic soda pop to its largely Boomer clientele.
Ray and Nancy hadn't gone with us to the show, but Michæl and Carrie had and they loved it. Later the four of us went out onto the streets of Woodstock seeking a drink, something that's not easy to find in a place that's more a simulacrum of a village than an actual one. We arrived at Joshua's (across the street) just after it had closed and were forced to go to the atmospherically inferior Landau Grill. But once we had our drinks and were sitting out in the porch area, we had a great meandering conversation punctuated by gales of laughter. Most of it centered about Michæl's and my respective childhoods and our quirky socially-inept families. Michæl had grown up in an atheist family in southern Idaho, surrounded by unfriendly Mormons, a childhood similar in many ways to mine.
At some point tonight I heard the first "ka-chih-chih" call of this summer's Katydids. It's a vaguely sad sound, because for me it's always been an indication that summer was entering its final phase. When I was a kid, that sound always meant that school was only weeks away, and, as a self-educating organism, I never particularly liked school.
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