The problem is that sometimes you have periods like the one we're currently in: there are simply too many acts coming through for me to see them all. Take, for example, October 2nd. We had Ben Harper at the Flynn and Los Lonely Boys at Spruce Peak Performing Arts. Hello people... can we not coordinate our efforts? I can only be in one place at a time!
Then this week, we have Brandi Carlile at the Flynn, two Yonder Mountain String Band shows at Higher Ground, and a new kid named Eric Hutchinson at the small room at Higher Ground. Not to mention the Vermont singer/songwriter contest held at various clubs, and the Richmond Bakery's own Bluegrass Night. Can we not spread these out a bit?
The two shows I did manage were Brandi and Ben -- both at the Flynn. First, a brief word about these two performers. Don't confuse Brandi Carlile with Belinda Carlisle, the heavily necklaced and braceletted (that is, "wearer of many bracelets") lead singer of former 80s band the Bangles -- oh no. Brandi is up-and-coming, and she's the real deal -- fun, funny, gritty, and, trust me, the chick rocks. Buy her records. Ben Harper, of course, is simply one of the all-time greats. I've seen him 5 or so times, and each time has been significantly different (all of them awesome) -- especially this latest solo acoustic show. He brought onstage no fewer than 16 guitars (actually some of them weren't guitars; rather they were stringed instruments with names unknown to me and with outrageously wild sounds), a piano, and a xylophone. He sang, told stories, laughed, and mesmorized the audience for over 3 hours without a break. Quality.
But I have a gripe. (That's the thing about having a blog... I get to air my gripes. Nothing anyone can do about it!) The gripe is with the Flynn people. You're hosting rock-n-roll acts. So what's with the "No Standing" rule? Audiences at the Flynn (excepting Ben's) are confused, uncomfortable, and restless because of this dumb rule. If you're bringing in a foot-stomping, body-wiggling, arm-waving act, then -- for crying out loud -- let the people dance! We're not going to stand on your new chairs!
I only go to the Flynn when it's an act I have to see -- because of this rule. After all, the room and acoustics are amazing, and it's just a great place to see a show. But if the music's rocking, then so should be the audience. Don't try to stop it.
Photos (top): Brandi unplugged at the Flynn. (Bottom): Ben's guitars