What? No kid tonight !!! Saturday night our eight year old went to a birthday party/sleepover meaning mom and dad had a childless night for the first time in a long time. Last time this was suppose to happen, the Gods decided that out kid would get sick at the last moment. So what did we do with this rare opportunity? We went to see the Fabulous Mary Ann Redmond Band at Jammin' Java. Tickets were still available (for a mere $15) and we'd never been to this club before - what's not to like ...
So if you don't live around Washington, DC the chances are you've never heard of Mary Ann Redmond. That's unfortunate since she is simply one of the most talented singers I've ever heard. A petite, outgoing blond, at first glance she doesn't look like the amazing singer is. That makes it all the more amazing to hear her. When Redmond opens her mouth and starts singing, you're left to wonder where in the world does all of that bluesy power come from? I guess its just a gift from the Gods.
My wife and I have been Mary Ann fans for ... let's just say for a long time. Neither my wife, not I (nor Redmond herself) would want anyone to know how long. It's kind of a strange thought, but in some ways Mary Ann Redmond's served as the soundtrack to our life as a couple. We first saw her perform at a small DC club when we were dating and we've continued to see her on and off through the years. We've seen her as singles; as a couple; as parents. We've seen her in small clubs, free outdoor shows, and bigger forums like the State Theater. Mind you, we own all of her recordings, but we're not groupies, or hardcore fanatics. She wouldn't know of us if she sat down next to us (which she actually did last night). Still, she's always been part of the the soundtrack to our lives to the point her music's in our home stereo, in out cards, and on my iPhone.
As mentioned, we saw here at Jammin Java in Vienna, Virginia. I've driven by this place dozens of times and actually thought about going there a couple of times to see a couple of bands, but just never done it. The club itself is in a small, non-descript strip mall along Maple Street. It's completely innocuous. You walk in and there a nice bar area. You walk to the back and there's a small dining area and the stage. The tables are small, the chairs are hard and uncomfortable, the place is dark (good luck reading the menu), the staff is slow and not particularly friendly, and the acoustics are non-existent. Still, I liked it. Small and comfy is probably the best way to describe the place.
And what about the show you ask? Well it started at 7:00 pm! Actually a perfect time for parents since we were home by 9:30 pm (Mary Anne made comment to how convenient that was for the older audience, plus it would free up the club for the younger crowd coming in later in the evening). The show was great. We hadn't seen her perform in a year or two and while she looks a little older (yes, we saw you briefly put on the reading glasses), time has been very kind to Mary Anne Redmond. She remains as pretty and perky as the first time we saw her. And when she gets on stage; the woman's simply amazing. Not only does she seem to get younger when she takes the stage, but her smile and enthusiasm simply light up the place. I'm not a musician, but my limited dealings with professional musicians have left me with the impression that its a business that makes people tough and cynical. Redmond seems to be one of the exceptions. She seems to have fun performing and her easygoing interaction with her band and the audience just makes the experience all the more fun. Hard to imagine Redmond pulling a Van Morrison and spending the entire evening with her back turned to the audience. By coincidence I'd seen Rush at Jiffy Lube (I hate Jiffy Lube), a couple of weekends before and have to tell you I'd go see Mary Anne before seeing the latter again. As for the set list, she played a mixture of classic tunes such as The Beatles 'Come Together' , 'Footprints On the Ceiling', and 'I Can't Stand the Rain' (her cover of the Ann Peebles' song is to-die-for amazing), as well as a couple of songs we'd never heard her perform before - The Allman Brothers 'Whipping Post' and a new ballad 'Love Me Anyway' that she'd written with Todd Wright. Before playing the song, Mary Anne mentioned Celine Dion and Johnny Hallady (yes, I knew who Halliday was) have recorded the track. Guess that will provide a source of revenue for some time to come.
I should also mentioned her longstanding band is pretty impressive too boot. I think lead guitarist Dan Hovey's been with her for four or five years. Seeing him walk in the place you wouldn't think much, but don't let looks deceive you. The man can play. His solo spots and slide guitar work were stunning. I've been humming 'Crossroads' all morning long. Her rhythm section was also dynamite - bassist Mike Tony Echols and drummer Deren Blessman literally rocked the house. When Blessman hit his bass pedal, the walls literally shook in the club.
What a fantastic way to spend a Saturday evening. Thank you Mary Anne and company for a wonderful time. We'll have to do it again.