Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
As rotten as Friday felt, as low as my spirits fell listening to that pompous ape talk about “American carnage,” as hopeless as the next four years seemed as the relentless rain fell, we salvaged some lightness that evening with — what else? Music.
Have you ever been to a house concert? Where a professional-level player shows up in someone’s living room and puts on the same show he’d do at a club or concert hall? Well, our new liberal friends Kenny and Jenny invited us to the latest in a series of these at a neighbor’s house right here in beautiful downtown Cool, California — the spectacular roots/blues player, David Jacobs-Strain, accompanied by harmonica virtuoso, Bob Beach. That’s them in the clip.
The host, another Kevin, along with his wife Barb, have repurposed their downstairs family room as a performance venue, complete with about fifty folding chairs, an actual stage, lighting, and a killer sound system. Beforehand there was a potluck, where attendees brought everything from chili in a Crockpot to dynamite pulled pork barbecue. The wine flowed freely. Sure, we were all utterly bummed by the political events of the day, but slowly/surely our mood started to drag itself out of the trench, anticipating the show.
Kevin did a short set of his own tunes, including a sweet one from the point of view of the moon speaking to Earth. Best line: “I have a dark side, one that you’ll never see …” Nailed it!
Then came David and Bob, and they launched right into an uptempo blues, with David sliding on an awesome vintage-style resonator guitar that Blind Willie Johnson himself would’ve killed to play. These guys were hot, man, and David’s lyrics were both humorous and touching, full of rural detail and a slightly cocked point of view. He has a warm and funny presence, and being so close to the stage gave us that intimate relationship with the performer that lets the music get right in.
Bob juggled his harps like a Benihana chef, changing mid-song and rolling through quick runs into an old mic like you see Little Walter hooting at. Then — believe it — this man turns around and produces a flute! Have you ever heard blues flute? He made that silver stick cry, my friends. And then he played it one-handed so he could toss in some harmonica clucks at the same time.
Whither the flute in blues music? Cool, California!
When it was over, my wife and I ran to our car in the cold rain, having totally forgotten that it was still January 20th and some billionaire gasbag is now sitting in the biggest chair on Earth, and we realized that the only way to fight the negative that’s going to be shitting down on us is to seize the best things that are out there. Music, friends, common minds, communal purpose, and the goodness in people around us.
Hey, at least it’s worth the try.
Meanwhile, check out David’s website and see if he’s coming anywhere near you this year. We paid twenty bucks a head for the house concert, plus I got to high-five him at the end. Well worth the price, and braving the crummy weather. And as Jorma Kaukonen says about him: “He is just one of these guys who is in his own class. A great singer and guitar player.”
My advice: Let David and Bob, or someone else in their line of work, help you in these times of trouble.