Friday the 1st Jill was off, so we scheduled Lilah’s first vet visit with Vet In A Box – they’re a mobile vet, who don’t do house calls, you go outside and there’s an exam room in the back of their van. Lilah got some shots and was pronounced healthy. She was so busy during the day she didn’t want to do takeout, used DoorDash to get food from Bollywood Bistro.
Saturday was Nina birthday and her birthday party. After her flute lesson in the morning, Jill and her went to Wegman’s for cake and drinks, while I hit Ledos for pizza and wings. We got to Monster Mini Golf before the previous party was over, but managed to get in and setup before any guests arrived at 3. Jill served them food while I greeted. The staff kept bugging us to finish in the first 30 minutes, but it just wasn’t happening for the girls to get through pizza, cupcakes, and ice cream cake.
At 3:45 they went upstairs for Laser Tag (Megan was the high scorer), then went back down for a round of mini golf, during which Jill and I packed up the leftovers and threw out the trash. Finally they played arcade and coupon games and the laser maze, before most left and we took the remaining ones back to our house for a hang.
Sunday we all collapsed – I rallied to make the Eggs Benedict and artichokes she’d requested for her dinner the day before. Monday I went to see Lauren Mayberry, singer for Chvrches, do her first every solo show at the 9:30 Club. She had released a new single, “Are You Awake?”, but other than that, no one knew what to expect. As it turns out, she’s working a new solo album, and those were the tunes she played, with the addition of a nice cover of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”. Her songs were very Chvrches-like, but I liked them.
The next night was Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service at The Anthem. Jill had to work late, so I missed seeing Lauren Mayberry two nights in a row (no great loss, as she performed the same set minus two songs) and got in during the middle of Death Cab for Cutie performing their album Transatlanticism. Both that and The Postal Service’s self titled album were released in 2003, so Ben Gibbard, frontman of both bands, was pulling double duty celebrating the 20th anniversary of both albums. Death Cab was fine, but I would have preferred Plans. The Postal Service was wonderful, though, and having Jenny Lewis tour with them was crucial to getting that right. For the encore, first it was Ben & Jenny only, reprising “Such Great Heights”, then the rest of Death Cab for Cutie joined them for a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy The Silence”. The only thing I was bummed about was that this poster was sold out when I got there, it’s just so great.
Friday the 8th we all went to Vienna to get take out. Jill and I wanted to try The Mixx Delight, next to Clarity. Nina noped out once she saw the menu, so I took her to the Wendy’s down the street while Jill waited for the food. Then we drove over to Wolf Trap where James Taylor was playing for three nights, all sold out. We chose a picnic table near the restaurant as it would be too crowded inside, then ate. Afterwards we went inside, and he played all the hits (along with a well timed intermission). Jill was big fan of his storytelling in between songs. We left during the encore.
Saturday I tried Scissors & Scotch for a haircut after they offered me a discount. The haircut was decent, and the drink afterwards was good, but the discount was mysteriously missing when I paid, so I doubt I’ll be back. Sunday Nina started 2 new classes, a study skills class at StudyPro and a confirmation class at church. Her being in downtown McLean for 2 hours in the morning at StudyPro was a perfect excuse to go to CD Cellar and pore through the discount CDs. Monday we found out Nina had only slept an hour the night before, so we banned Lilah from her room, and she slept in class, on the way to and from her flute lesson, and before dinner (we made her go to bed at 8).
I don’t know how it got to be 2023 until I realized that I hadn’t seen great pop bands Crowded House and Squeeze, but I corrected both of those mistakes, Crowded House back in May and Squeeze on Thursday the 14th at Wolf Trap. It was actually a double bill with The Psychedelic Furs opening. I didn’t know them well, but I enjoyed their show (and the big hits, of course). Squeeze’s singers and writers, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, sounded like they haven’t aged a bit, and neither have their songs. The crowd was very into it. Fun trivia fact: Amanda Kramer, keyboardist for The Furs, is an early member of Information Society, while Simon Hanson and Richard Fearless, playing drums and percussion for Squeeze, are the drummer and singer for Death in Vegas.
Friday I did not have a ticket for The Jayhawks at the beginning of the day. I hadn’t seen them since 2014 and I wanted to, but it turned out Jill was working late and I thought I might have to miss the show. Meanwhile the show sold out. Then Nina got an offer to hang out at a friend’s house, and I asked if it was possible for her to stay through dinner and Jill could pick her up. So I waited until resale ticket prices dropped closer to the show, picked one up, and raced over to Alexandria. I had time to stop at Five Guys and wolf a burger down to avoid the food at The Birchmere, then got a seat only minutes before Freedy Johnston came on (I was still hungry, so tried their carrot cake, which was a mistake). If you thought 9 years between seeing The Jayhawks is long, it was 28 years since I’d last seen him. I was happy he was still playing “Bad Reputation”.
The Jayhawks came on strong after the break with “Backwards Women” from Back Roads And Abandoned Motels and “This Forgotten Town” from XOXO, songs from their two most recent albums that fit in perfectly with their older material. “Angelyne”, “Waiting For The Sun”, “Nothing Left To Borrow” and “Tampa To Tulsa” followed to crowd acclaim. Singer Gary Louris wrote “Everybody Knows” with The Chicks and showed it’s equally his song. More classics followed: “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”, “I’d Run Away” and “Trouble”. The new “Dogtown Days” was a stunner, then a pair of covers: Gram Parsons’ “We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning” and The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. Stephen McCarthy joined them all set on guitar and pedal steel guitar, and having done that for them on 2003’s Rainy Day Music, especially shined on album cuts “All The Right Reasons” and “Save It For A Rainy Day”. The set ended with rousing versions of “Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces”, “Smile”, “Blue” and “Tailspin”. The encore was “Sound Of Lies”, “Big Star”, and a cover of Billy Walker’s “Down To My Last Cigarette” with Karen Grotberg on vocals. It was shortened (other stops had also gotten Gary’s contribution to Golden Smog “Until You Came Along”), but with three covers I was satisfied.
I was glad I went as the next morning Jill ended up going north as her mom was admitted to the hospital with chest pains. Nina had gotten Chinese takeout at her friend’s house, but really wanted Big Buns, so she asked if she could go and bring a friend. The friend’s mom offered to have Nina come over first and hang out for a couple hours, so naturally I went home and went on the boat. When I went to pick them up, the mom came too and we all ate at a table inside. Sunday Nina was back at StudyPro so I got to go to CD Cellar and finish poring through the discount CDs (yes, 3.5 hours total, they really have that many). Jill’s mom ended up getting testing and getting a stent. Jill came home Friday – she was thinking about coming back Saturday, but a tropical storm was going to give us a glancing blow, and driving would have been miserable. So we spent a 3 day rainy weekend at home, with a sleepover for Nina on Sunday.
While Jill was gone, I posted some links. I found The real reason(s) food allergies are on the rise fascinating. On 10,000 Maniacs hiring Leigh Nash and Matt Slocum from Sixpence None The Richer, I posted “Huh. I wasn’t the biggest fan of their last singer, but this is quite a surprise. I’d go see them.” Finally, one of the joys of buying used CDs is occasionally coming across editorial changes:
Also, I sent this to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter: We’ve had Lilah (aka Cagney [& Lacey], aka Hiss [& Vinegar]) for a month now, and she’s settling in nicely. She was categorized as a working cat, but our daughter cuddled her for 30 minutes and we brought her home. She started out in a bathroom, and really responded to wet food. It turns out she has the loudest purr I’ve ever heard on a cat, and while she’s still skittish about loud sounds, will come to us for pets and playtime. Her favorite toy is a bundle of feathers attached to what looks like a fishing rod, and her favorite food is anything with fish.
With Jill back, on Wednesday the 27th her cousin Greg and his son Peter stayed the night so the next day they could move Peter’s stuff from his apartment in DC to his new home in Colorado. Thursday the Lemon Twigs at the Black Cat were a must for being for being one of the best power pop bands out there now. I’d put a song from their last album on my Artists To Watch, but this is the first I remember seeing them tour in our area. And it was an excellent show, they reminded me of The Greenberry Woods, a local power pop band from the 90s also with two brothers in it. They put an exclamation point by covering The Beatles’ “Hold Me Tight” as an encore. Friday Nina walked with a friend in the Homecoming Parade – for the first time I didn’t walk with her. We got Big Buns for dinner that night.