After a quiet week of work and gym, I was ready to get oot and aboot Friday night. I hit the White Eagle Saloon, another McMenamin’s spawn. After camping at the bar for a bit, I was able to lay claim to a vacating table.
Some years ago, I was preparing for my first trip to Amsterdam and encountered the term “gezellig”. It’s hard to translate, but it means something along the lines of “What are you in such a hurry for? Slow down. Relax. Here, smell this.”, and it was especially relevant to Americans who might fume for twenty minutes in a restaurant wondering “Hellew? Is anyone ever going to bring us a friggin’ menu?” One guide book even (jokingly?) suggested you bring along a deck of cards to keep yourself entertained whilst waiting. I didn’t take it as a joke, and I have many fond memories of idling in a canal-side cafe, playing cards and enjoying the moment.
For some reason, I brought a deck of cards to the White Eagle last night. (Ahh, you thought I had forgotten all about that, didn’t you? I am in the prime of my senility!) So I played several hands of whist around a number of bourbon and cokes, cajun tater tots and eventually a real meal.
But, truth be told, I was there for the music more than the food. The opening act was a fellow named Colin Lake. Colin is a talented lap guitar player, singing the delta blues. I admired his playing, but it was a little slow and low-energy for the venue. And maybe this marks me as a bigot, but especially after growing up in Memphis, there just seems to be something wrong about a 20-something white boy playing the delta blues. But he was a good performer, and I was winning hand after hand, so it was all good.
And then came the act that drew me out in the first place, a guy named Jonathan Coulton. This was my first time seeing JC live, so I didn’t know what to expect. He performed alone, just a guy and his guitar, and had the casual unassuming pose of the former computer programmer that he is.
If you haven’t heard of him before, Jonathan plays very upbeat acoustic pop/rock about… fractals, giant squids from the ocean depths, paeans/curses about Ikea, scientist villains in their mountain lair… you know, the usual sorts of things. It helps if you know Coulton is a contributing troubadour for Popular Science magazine, and once wrote an album for a single issue of the magazine with songs about the main articles.
The venue was standing-room only, and the crowd obviously knew JC and were big fans. There was a fair bit of singing along to assorted songs, which is great until you hear a large room of people singing “All we want to do is eat your brains” in full zombie-voice. Some of the people were entirely too enthusiastic about that topic.
It was a great night out, and I will definitely be looking for JC’s next swing through town.