Garibaldi: Caroline's South for a night

Steve MacKay and apprentices
Originally uploaded by V'ron
That's what it felt like by the time Steve MacKay took the stage on Friday night at Club Garibaldi, flanked by two other tenor sax players and a baritone saxophonist. It was as though I'd gone to a genuine jazz club: well-rehearsed, yet improvisational and enjoyable for both audience and musicians.

There was a certain warmth to the proceedings, not like a bunch of cooler-than-thou jazzbos, but a group of people who'd been playing for years, though not necessarily together. MacKay's most famous credential (playing for Iggy Pop) was well-known among the audience (to the point where a few fans brought their preserved copies of FUn House for autographing) but it wasn't punk he was presenting this evening. He gracously gave each musician plenty of time to stretch out their chops, clearly confident enough in his own ability and status to be not threatened, but proud to share a stage with a group of dedicated youngones. As such, there wasn't a person in the house without an appreciative grin on their face. Not every note was skintight, admittedly, but we forgave them for the weaker moments, simply because the spirit of musicianship, experimentation, and a willingness to try to take everything a step further than they had before masked any shortcomings there may or may not have been.

I'd debated even going out on Friday -- it had been a long week at work and all I really wanted to do was go to sleep after I lullabyed Sammy down. But something told me to step out, and I was glad I did, even though the childraising duties forced me to miss opening band IROCKZ, who was just finishing up their set with a Stooges cover when I finally arrived.

Sikhara's lead guy
Originally uploaded by V'ron.

Besides the other sax players who were obviously under his tutelage, MacKay had a guitarist and drummer behind him, and a gentleman who played basically a 4x4 with a couple of pieces of piano wire (or something of that sort) who'd played in the band that took the stage shortly after I arrived, Sikhara. Sikhara is probably described as half performance art, half noise, and one more half rhythm extravaganza. Lead guy Sam Lohman starts out their set by prowling all over the stage in a state of staged paranoia -- looking about like somebody's about to get him, and taking out his resultant rage on the drums. He's accompanied by tape loops (or their digital equavalent), and they're dead on. At some points he used a few props but it was up to the audience's intrepretation as to what the point was. Their set was about a half hour, which was just about the right length -- any shorter would have cut the intensity, any longer and they would have gotten tiresome.

As the night went on, it was difficult to imagine anybody having to follow MacKay, but if anybody in town could have pulled this off it was the Danglers -- and pull it off they did. They jumped almost instantly into "Aphrodite's Thighs" and in doing so, convinced the audience that it was worth it to refill their drinks and stick around. And that included MacKay himself, who joined them for an improv'd song that was so tight, so intense, that it seemed like they'd rehearsed it all week. I'm really sad that the Dangler's Tuesday night shows -- which run on a night before I have to get up especially early for work -- are almost prohibitive for me to catch, but at least I fought the fatigue and caught this. I'd have to put this entire night on the "Best Musical Nights of 2008" list (if I ever bothered to compile such a thing.). It was warm, it celebrated several ages of music, and it was a great combination of local talent and national niche.

The only downer was the size of the audience. I'd only learned about this show via some myspace bulletins two day beforehand -- and later in the weekend, as I gushed about this show to friends, the response was almost universal: "Really? Where was this? Oh, I'd have been there if I'd have known! Bummer!" I'm not sure if this was a last-minute booking, or if our press corps is just lazy, but there has got to be a better way of getting the word out on things like this.


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