My Halloween this year was spent at Road 34, a bike(bicycle, not motorbike) shop and cafe by day, rougher bar and music venue by night. As far as comfort goes, Road 34 is not my favorite venue- it is dirty, noisy and offers very few tables and nooks for people to sit indoors away from the bar and the crowd. (If I liked beer, enjoyed getting drunk, or was with a group of friends who liked these things, Road 34 would actually be a great hangout. I’m just a lame nerd who would rather have nice table to set my tea on while reading.) I very nearly went to Everyday Joe’s on Friday, instead, because You Me & Apollo was playing, but it’s a 2-3 mile walk to get there and ~1/2 a block to walk to Road 34 from my place. So, now that the ears have stopped ringing, and soon all the photos I took last week will be properly captioned and sorted, here’s what drew me to Road 34 twice in one weekend.
Friday night, October 26th, Mama Lenny played a set at Road 34 well outside their norm. There were a few Mama Lenny and the Remedy tunes at the end of the night, too, of course- these guys are the sort of musicians who don’t readily surrender a stage once they have possession of it and its sound equipment. (These are of course my favorite sort of musicians, too. If you took away their instruments and audience they would invent new instruments and play to the passing squirrels and robins. Music’s just in their blood.)
Mookie Blaylock, a Pearl Jam cover band consisting of local musicians Kris Hodgell, John Paul Hodge, Brian Leavitt, Ken Monks and Alan Hlavacek, played a set of Pearl Jam and Mama Lenny covered Black Sabbath and Ozzy tunes, in appropriate costume, of course. Both bands were great, and by 1:30am there were still quite a few people in the bar to see those last few Mama Lenny tunes. And, by the end of the night I met enough new friends that the following night I actually was hanging out with a bunch of friends, not just standing around by myself with my camera. As always, this made the second show far more enjoyable, but both nights were worth the time, energy and $5.
I always enjoy taking pictures for Mama Lenny shows- this one was my third this year- they always move around on stage in ways that make for cool pictures, not just for one song, but throughout their show. This is not one of those bands that only moves back and forth from microphone to a spot a few feet from the microphone, and back. I have definitely seen a few of these now, and while they are easy to capture in photos, it’s because there’s not much to see. Mama Lenny is a band full of performers, and they have a lot of fun on stage. No director or manager or coach ever had to tell these guys “move around on stage- it makes you look less boring”.
Even without costumes a live show from Mama Lenny & the Remedy is great entertainment, but since it was the weekend leading into Halloween, we got to see the band in their 80’s metal band outfits and briefly in wings after a quick mid-music costume change. I was particularly entranced by Amanda’s red leather jacket, which made her look like a short Joan Jett, but was also the element I would have needed to go as Roxette this Halloween. (Of course the lights at Road 34 are about as photo-friendly as the ones at the Old Town Stage downtown, so all my decent shots are in sepia or black & white, but I still got a lot of great shots of all 4 bands I saw over the weekend on this stage.)
The following night several of the Mama Lenny musicians were back on stage with other bands. I missed the first of the three bands that played Saturday night, unfortunately. But, I made it in time to see the other two. Soup, named after the album of the same name by Blind Melon, is a Blind Melon cover band. I had been doing my best to write a post on Blind Melon earlier this season, but found that I just couldn’t get into the albums this band released.
Soup’s show highlighted the full range of songs Blind Melon created, and it was a very good show. I don’t recall any of Blind Melon’s songs featuring a singer with as pleasing a voice as we heard Saturday. Soup’s lead vocalist is the Laniece who also heads up Mama Lenny, and if Blind Melon had included this talented singer as their vocalist, this ill-starred 90’s band would still be going strong, I’m sure. The whole group sported antennae, wings and stripes in homage to the bee girl from the “No Rain” video, and yes, they did play “No Rain”, and the whole room sang and danced along.
Following Soup was a ska/funk/reggae band that covered a bunch of country songs, called 12 Cents for Marvin. This group’s members include Greta Cornett, who also plays trumpet for Mama Lenny. We got to sing and dance through a peppy funk rendition of “Friends in Low Places”, a far cheerier version than Ryan Kelly sings, guaranteed, and an up-tempo version of Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler”, along with a lot of other country favorites and a few songs from the more traditional range of funk songs.
During this set, there was also a costume contest, of course, since this was the weekend before Halloween. We had a gal on stage for the contest who was dressed up as the Blind Melon “Bee Girl”, along with Rainbow Bright, the Dread Pirate Roberts and Princess Buttercup, a Teenage Ninja Turtle, and several other great characters.
It was a fun show, and thankfully the volume was just slightly lower for this second night, so although I stood within the front few feet of the house speakers for longer this second night, I didn’t add appreciably to the ringing in my ears from the previous night. Either I’m getting used to Road 34, or the bands who played these two nights were good enough that I’d have enjoyed them anywhere. Probably both. In any case, I’m sure I’ll be back for more shows at this bar, if only because they have several more enticing shows on their schedule for the next month and they are still just down the alley.