Monday, September 20, 2004

A magic night

Saturday night Wendell and I went out to the Tremont Music Hall for a farewell night/happy birthday for the longtime club owner, Penny Craver. Penny has always been one of those people that I can't really call a friend but she has been someone I have known since the first year or two I lived in Charlotte. I first met her when she was promoting shows at the old 1313 club in the early 90's here in Charlotte. Not long after she took over the Milestone Club and a couple friends and I used to go there on nights when there was a band there we really wanted to see and on nights when we didn't know the band just because we knew Penny brought in good music.

My buddy Jeff would come with us and he was more a classic rock kinda guy and he would not like about half the bands but he enjoyed sitting at the bar and talking to Lawrence. Eventually Penny opened Tremont and I went there a lot the first few years but I have gone less frequently because I don't go out as much and she is bringing in fewer bands I am into. Directly because of Penny I have met many interesing people over the years and been to a lot of great shows. Becuase of her I saw Iggy Pop. What more can I say?

This Saturday was special though. Six bands played short sets and gave tribute to Penny. The music opened with Bellglide which I hadn't seen before. They grew on me after a few songs. I think I'd like to see them again.

I think the next band was Les Dirt Clods which I really enjoyed. The singer mentioned that Penny gave him his first gig. Next up was Jeff Williams who I found out was in a band called Odd Job and he was also in Lodestar. I remember seeing Odd Job once at the 1313 and they blew me away.

Next up was Antiseen. This Antiseen performance was unique in that it was in the small room at Tremont and, since this show was under the radar and not promoted, a lot of their meathead fans weren't there. It was fun watching Antiseen plow through an awesome set in front of room not there specifically to see them. They were great. Jeff Clayton was very funny onstage. He mentioned that, in finding Penny, the band finally found a club owner as rascist and homophobic as they are. The highlight was a smoking, and I mean smoking, rendition of "Beat on the Brat" by the Ramones. Clayton prefaced this song by saying that not only are we here tonight to pay tribute to Penny but to say goodbye to another Ramone. Holy crap did they do that song justice. It could only have been done better by the Ramones. No one else in the world other than the Ramones could have played that song with such vigor.

Next up was Big Brick Building. I saw them a couple of times in the early 90's and they played an excellent set but I feel sorry for any band that plays after Antiseen. It was nice to see those guys again they have a unique bouncing Talking Heads meets Primus sound. I did notice that there were about twenty people up front really into what Big Brick Building was doing.

The highlight of the evening was the final band: The Blind Dates. The blind dates consist of Gina Stewart (Doubting Thomas), Deanna Campbell (Second Skin aka Violet Strange, now doing great solo stuff), another lady joined them on guitar and Penny played drums. Deanna told Wendell and me that the Blind Dates was her first band and she was still learning to play guitar when they formed. I had always wanted to see this band. They broke up in 1989 which is one year before I moved to Charlotte. I had heard things here and there about how good they were and I had always wondered how Deanna and Gina would sound when they sang together.

I am so happy I got to see them play Saturday night even if it was only for about 20 minutes. They were fantastic. Not only can Penny beat the piss out of a drum set, she's a fine drummer. She's got power and great rhythm. Deanna and Gina singing together was as beautiful as I thought it would be. They did a nice interweaving vocal in the middle of one song and I looked over Rob, a friend who came in a litle late, and said, "Wow." He said, "They can do that all night." I wish I could remember the name of the second guitar player she whipped off some nice unique solos during the set. They carried the last song out for about 30 seconds. You could tell they really didn't want to stop but I am sure they played all the songs they had rehearsed for the reunion. The crowd response was wonderful. Every person that had migrated in and out for the other bands came in for the set by the Blind Dates. It was really that big of a deal to those who came out.

What a cool night. It was one of the most special local music nights I have enountered here in Charlotte and, despite what some may think, there have been a lot and a many of them occurred because of Penny Craver. Forget what I said before, she's not an aquaintance she's a friend.

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