Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One Dark and Snowy Night at the Cedar

Well, I'm sitting at home with two sprained knees, a condition, which, one would think, would lead to a tremendous outpouring of bloggery. Alas, however, sitting at the computer is not nearly as comfortable as being on the couch with ice packs on my propped-up legs. So this may be a little on the short and sweet side. We'll see.

When the Angel of Rock wrote about her "music for sub zero weather" a couple of posts back, it put me in mind of a strange, but really fun, night at the Cedar last winter. One of those freaky late season snowstorms was in the process of dumping about a foot of heavy wet slop on us. I kept checking the website to see if the show had been cancelled, then finally called the Cedar to see what was up. Mark said the headliners, Uncle Earl, had come into town the day before and were staying with friends, but that the opening act was stranded in Iowa as I-35 was closed. The show was on! I slipped and slid over to the Cedar and the bluegrass gals in Uncle Earl were really taking it in stride. I'm assuming most of them are from somewhere SOUTH of here, y'know. They agreed to play an extra set of tunes to make up for the lack of an opener, turned in a fine sound check and chilled out with their plates of curry.

It was snowing like crazy; one of those nights when people get home from work and do. not. leave. again. Advance tickets had been sold, but would anybody come out on a night like this? I was thinking it would be amazingly quiet.

Know what? It turned into a really fun night! About 50 people straggled in, stomping snow off their boots and knocking it off their hats. Something about the weather induced a good natured spirit of anarchy in the Cedar so the crowd just yelled back at me and wolf whistled when I announced the band would come on a little late because they were making themselves "extra pretty." A band member who shall remain nameless due to my hostess' descretion wondered where she could buy a bottle of whiskey. I got to use the phrase "snow thunder" in my introduction, because of course, I had to make weather jokes. The crowd whooped and hollered and yelled things at the band, who hollered right back at them. Lots of laughter, lots of good jokes, and yeah, two set of fine bluegrass and sweet harmonies.

Only in Minnesota? Probably. Only at the Cedar? For sure.

I'm not sure who else besides the Uncle Earl gals would make a video of an old time tune featuring rollerskating waiters in a Chinese restaurant, a dance off between a team of Irish step dancers and some tough looking space-sluts, and bad dubbing, with some Kung Fu thrown in. The band jams away while throwing worried looks at the scuffle, then gets up and teaches everybody to clog. That really is John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin playing piano; he produced their last album. The in-joke here is that "Streak o' Lean, Streak o' Fat" is a pretty good English translation for the name of Chairman Mao's favorite dish, and banjo player Abigail Washburn is fluent in Chinese, and is yelling things about Mao's eating habits during the tune. So it kinda makes sense. Kinda.

* * * * *

Speaking of cold, and weather...what was up with all those fools on the podium yesterday in the 20-something degree weather with no hats on their heads? Aretha had a fine hat on, but could any of the leaders of our country muster up enough common sense instead of style sense and don a lid? NO they could not, I guess.

Definitely NOT in Minnesota.

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