Friday, April 22, 2011

Lucy in the Sky with Rhine

I kept telling the Bard that if there were a show playing at Lincoln Hall I thought she would want to see that I would take her there. In fact I’d spent the last weekend telling her just that. So when I learned that Over the Rhine would be playing it was really time for me to put up or shut up on the ticket front. I scored us a pair of tickets for Over the Rhine, let her know, and went back to working on the never-ending project I seemed to be working on.

As Friday finally neared I found myself quite excited about finally getting a chance for some quality musical time with the Bard. I knew that what we would really want to do was get some seats on the balcony. By checking show times, I also knew that we’d need to be there by at least 6:45 if we wanted to get seats on the balcony. This meant eating dinner in Lincoln Hall, which I was also very happy to do. I’d decided to browse the menu when I noted that you could in fact make reservations for the balcony with show tickets. That seemed to me to make the most logical sense. I sent the Bard a text asking if she was okay with that, but while I was waiting for the reply I just went ahead and booked the table. By the time she got back to me we were all set.

I got on the train, got the Bard and we prepared to get ready and get out the door for our dinner and drinking and music. As I had on a number of occasions, I checked out the pre-show. To be honest I did not enjoy the pre-show act that much, but figured I could sit through just about any form of music for a good band ( I had in fact stood in front of the stage in Australia and listened to an entire show by Spiritualized in 2009, so I was truly willing to do just about anything for a good band). As the hour approached we arrived to the destination via the El, and walked in just in time to stand in a line.

The crowd was older than I expected, and I was chatted up by a gentleman from Indiana who dearly wanted to express his love for Over the Rhine and peppered us with questions about how many times we had been to see them. I wondered if it was one of those kinds of bands with cults of followers who went out in droves. Apparently it was, but on a minor scale.

We were finally let in, went up the steps and to my happiness there was our table, perfectly overlooking the balcony, with my name on top. Excellent. We sat down, and a waitress quickly got us drinks and a specials menu and we were able to sit back and enjoy some food while waiting for the show.

“Who's the first act?”

“Relatively obscure person. A Linda Wainwright.”

“Of the Wainwrights?”

“Not sure.”

To understand this you must understand that the Bard is a great fan of both Rufus Wainwright and his sister Martha. In fact last year as a birthday present I had sent her to see Rufus on his tour of Chicago. This is where the Bard met Martha and they bonded over "La Vie En Rose." Rufus is definitely a love of the Bard.

As the hall got quiet and the stage lights went down in the back and up in the front, out walked a little girl engulfed by the stage with her guitar. She strummed once and let go. And she was truly exquisite. She had one of those soft breathy-on-the-edge-of-every-line musicians, who is folky but sings from the heart. Her songs were elegantly put together and each work spoke clearly and precisely about what she wanted to say. There was meaning within meaning and layers that were never fussy or distracting.

And she is a storyteller. Between each song were little stories or self-deprecating humor. She was lovely. She was cute-as-a-button adorable. You just wanted to take her home and squeeze her. The Bard was over the moon with happiness about her.

“Who is this?” she asked again.

“Linda Wainwright Roche.”

“She is just like Martha; this is how Martha was. I think she might be one of the Wainwrights.”

“What a bastard Wainwright?”

“I think so.”

I enjoyed all over the songs she sang, but it was "Statesville" that really made the difference.

Her set was exquisite and over sadly far too soon.

After she finished, the Bard and I spent many moments being entirely floored by how amazingly wonderful this discovery of a bastard Wainwright was. We talked of little else as we waited for Over the Rhine.

The Rhine show was full of joy, storytelling, and amazingly beautiful voices. The relationship between the band was palpable and made the show so wonderful to hear. There is something about her voice that just reaches right into you and turns on a place in your mind that you had shut out for a bit. She has that skill when she sings. It’s a skill I adore. I was transcendent with her sound and loved watching her as she moved about the stage and shared herself with all of us. It was a worthwhile show, but the surprise of Lucy was certainly what turned the evening from a good time, into an utterly overwhelming success.

As we left we hit the merch table where the Bard got a collection of Lucy songs, and I got an Over the Rhine T-shirt to add to my ever-growing collection of crazy cool music T-shirts that I hardly ever wore. We bundled into a cab and talked about Lucy and her heritage the entire time. Upon arriving home more research was conducted and we learned that she was, in fact, a Wainwright. Her father was Loudon Wainwright III, and her mother was a Linda Roche. Apparently in the folk world the Roches were well known for their ability to harmonize, so much so that they inspired the Indigo Girls.

“ Loudon must have just wanted to like father a whole race of musical geniuses.” the Bard commented.

“He does appear to have good genes.”

We smiled and listened to our favorite-of-the-evening Over the Rhine songs with Young Kubrick until we were chased into dreams haunted by the wafting chorus of "Statesville."

As an ending aside, the Bard was entirely entrapped by all things Lucy for several days following the concert. So much so that Young Kubrick, while never asking her to stop listening, did as her if she could skip the one song (a cover song from…) that was starting to follow him everywhere. As of now she has managed to be equally impressed to listen to Over the Rhine, but Lucy is on heavier rotation than Iron and Wine on the Bard's MP3 player, and that is saying something.

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