Has anyone else noticed that the caliber of a club can often be equated with how much urine needs to be blotted from the toilet seat? Maybe only the ladies can relate here, but I am always impressed (impressed!?!?) when I don't need to clean up after someone who went before me. (Pun unintentional, but funny, now that I see it.) Which is rather sad, really. Since I would hope that wiping down a toilet seat would be an unnecessary task for an evening out.
The other night we went to The Strand in Hermosa Beach. It felt like the swanky living room I never had, as if I had invited my block over to hang out and hear a show while we had upscale chicken and waffles (a natural aphrodisiac, you should be warned). Jay Nash opened with a bare-bones, heart wrenching set. His sandpapered voice is deep and growls like a 300lb trucker, and it rumbles out with the power of a barrel-chested 50 year old, past the lips of a face so pretty, it's like seeing the love child of Ryan Gosling and Jason Lee. Listening to Jay live, even in a small living room, feels like holding onto the outside of a train as it rushes forward; exhilarating and exhausting and a total experience worth having.
I realized only after the show, while I was driving in my car, listening to Jay's cd, he's really got this edgy, Springsteen-esqe type of voice. Only I like it more than Springsteen.
The more I listen to his album, the more I appreciate the journey he takes. From sensitive and pained, to gentle and loving, from tender romance to stuff so sexy it may have gotten me pregnant. They're stories of experience and understanding. Check him out.
The dear, sweet, magnanimous, Chris Pierce headlined. While we haven't seen each other in a couple of years, he was still as sweet and genuine as ever. (He had been a great supporter of Shameless benefit events.) He's lost weight, cut his dreads off, and traded his homespun threads for sleek lapels and a sharp tie. If his smile didn't tell me he was exactly the same humble guy who brings the Spirit in through music, his performance certainly did. O- and did I mention his response to my thoughtless, "So- what have you been up to lately?" He smiled shyly, "Well...I just got back from touring with Jack Johnson...Have you heard of Colbie Calliet? And Al Green- that was really cool. But it's really nice to be back and just be at home. I love it."
A couple of years ago, my bishop called me into his office with a furrowed brow. "Farrah," he said, "I have been thinking a lot about your work...And I don't think you should do it anymore." Pardon me, Bishop? "Well...You're going into a lot of bars...And the people you're going to assoicate with...I just think you should reconsider what you're doing." I nodded. And genuinely took what he said into conderation. The advice still weighed heavily on my mind when I went to the Chris Pierce show 2 nights later. I walked into the club. The dark, tightly packed Budda Bar. Chris took the stage, and immediately, I felt the warmth of his heart. His spirit radiated out in love as he shared stories of his family and of courage and of faith. I could feel my heart leap in delight- I know this feeling! It's the Spirit! I feel the Spirit here!
Now, years later, Chris' hair may be different, but when he sings, that same spirit of joy and love and genuine soul pierces through to open the hearts of the people who hear him. At points in the show, his face beams and he reaches out, proclaiming, "Do you feel the Spirit?!" It is truly like watching a miracle of God. Jeni and I were saying that the glow of joy is so infectious- it must make the Lord smile to see one of His children take the time to dedicate themselves to share their talent and bring joy to the lives of others. His song is his testimony, and I am so thankful for artists who are not afraid to let it shine, shine, shine.