Continuing our musical summer, we have made two recent forays into Seattle for concerts.
The first was a couple of weeks ago to see Commander Cody at the Triple Door. Those of you of a certain age will probably remember “Hot Rod Lincoln” and “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette.” The Lost Planet Airmen are scattered, and the Commander, whose real name is George Frayne, plays with new, smaller aggregations that he calls variously the Modern Airmen or, in the case of the group we saw, the Western Airmen. In the old days, he said, a $35 ticket would get you an eight-piece band with a busload of instruments. Now “you get four old guys in a minivan.”
The Commander, now 71, walks with a cane and shows the effects of all the booze, cigarettes, and other substances that he sings about, but he can still rock out. The band played most of the old songs, which is why we came, including the two big hits, as well as “Lost in the Ozone,” “Truck Drivin’ Man,” “Rock That Boogie,” “It Should’ve Been Me (With That Real Fine Chick),” and their only slow song, “The Down to Seeds and Stems Again Blues.”
As Robin says, it’s pretty much “guy music,” and indeed the audience was mostly guys, most of them no longer young. The guy setting next to us was young, but he had had so much to drink that the management refused to serve him any more booze. I enjoyed the music; Robin not so much.
This past weekend we headed to the funky Fremont section of Seattle to see another band, Poor Man’s Whiskey, a California roots-rock group that we saw twice at the Kate Wolf Festival. The show was at the Nectar Lounge, which doesn’t serve food, so we had dinner at the nearby Brouwer’s Cafe, which specializes in Belgian food and beer. For our D.C. friends, it’s kind of like the old Brickskeller but with better food and even more kinds of beer. Brouwer’s has 64 beers on tap, none of which we had ever heard of, so we let our waiter help us choose. He did well. If you don’t like any of the draft beers, Brouwer’s also has more than 300 bottled beers and 60 Scotches.
The Nectar Lounge is the kind of place where most people stand up and dance through the concert, so it has limited seating. Since we’re old, we arrived early to make sure we could score a seat upstairs on the “mezzanine.” The seats, a hodgepodge of old desk and side chairs, were actually quite comfortable, and we had a good view of the stage.
Unlike at the Triple Door, most of the Nectar crowd was young. We would have easily been the oldest people there, except that the lead singer is apparently from Seattle and the crowd included his mother and various aunts and uncles.
Poor Man’s Whiskey plays a wide variety of music, from folk to country rock. For this event they stuck pretty much to the rock end of spectrum, which meant it was pretty loud and the words were hard to understand. They played their own music as well as Paul Simon and Allman Brothers covers. Their musicianship is exemplary, and it was an enjoyable evening. Watching the crowd rocking out on the floor below was almost as much fun as listening to the band. Several people had on fake noses.
There was second act, a group called Polecat, from Bellingham, but they didn’t go on until after 11, which is too late for us old people, so we headed out after Poor Man’s Whiskey was done. Almost everyone else seemed to be staying. I checked out Polecat online and they appear to be worth seeing. A couple of them sat in with Poor Man’s Whiskey and were very good, especially the guitar player. Since they’re local, we can catch them another time.
Next up: Bob Dylan on June 5.