It really feels good to start the new year off right. Set goals and stick to them. Make plans and see them through. Sorry to keep you both waiting...
Anyways, the band just got back from a quick trip up to Massachusetts to have our first crack at the Acton Jazz Cafe. It's a charming little out-of-the-way club about an hour outside of boston and, like 149 others, listed in DownBeat's Top 150 Jazz Clubs.
I celebrated our first foray into the Cradle of Liberty by ordering the band to make the 5-hour drive in complete silence, with no rest stops. I soon tired of this, however, and halfway through Connecticut issued a command for constant screaming and a bathroom break every ten miles. It took quite a long time to get there, but you can't build a cradle without breaking a few eggs. Am I right?
I'd chosen for our accommodation a delightful little guest house called the Hampton Inn. I chose it for its obvious similarity to my name (my middle name is Ann), although it was a considerable distance from the venue, and may have been haunted. Any misgivings we had about the place were soon eased by the attentive and attractive staff, and free cookies on arrival. We all dropped our bags, sat on the floor, and commenced shoveling as many of the complementary treats into our mouths as possible, pausing only to issue the concierge a crumby invite to the evening's performance, which she politely declined.
When we'd got ourselves settled, we set off in search of a pre-show meal. Our crumb-dusted friend at the hotel suggested a local slop-house called the British Beer Company, and being fond of both beer and company, we made a beeline. The BBC (hey!) menu offered such classic English fare as Buffalo chicken wings, and something called "Skins 'n' Fixins". No mention of "All you can Eton", or Luten-free selections, or "William-and-Katering Available" or an extensive whine list... Clearly not even trying. Turned out the place was packed to its Union-Jack-plastered rafters, and the wait was an hour. Seems nothing draws a crowd like English food; or maybe it was the promise of service without a smile. I suggested we stay long enough to warm our hands around a beer, but was shouted down, and we were off.
It's strange to me that a town the size of Acton (Pop. 20,000) can support a 7-day-a-week jazz club, and my home town of Sydney (Pop 4.6 Million) cannot*. More surprising considering it's harder to find than (think of humourous comparison before posting.) Once we found the joint, parked the winnebago, and found the front door (after taking some embarrassing Spinal Tap-style wrong turns, and kicking over several garden gnomes, first accidentally, then quite deliberately; the place is very gnomey) we found ourselves in a lovely, homey cafe-style club, full of friendly smiley folk. At first we started kicking them over too, but then remembered our manners and calmed down.
We'd arrived too late to hear saxophone Wunderkind Grace Kelly (I think she should bill herself "The All-New Grace Kelly" to avoid confusion. Or "Grace Kelly II: The Quickening." Or "Audrey Hepburn." These are just suggestions. I'm not going to make a big deal about it.), but then life is full of missed opportunities, isn't it? I consoled myself with pints of the delicious locally-produced IPA, and let the night take its course. The owner Gwenn is a wonderful and charming woman, and the AJC audience was attentive and enthusiastic, showing remarkable stamina by sitting still for a solid 90 minutes of original music and long-winded Hempton nonsense. We talked to some lovely people, and ended the night in the usual way. I have no idea what that is. Good times, and hopefully we'll get back there soon.
Next week, winter in the City! Righto.
*Sorry 505, you're not helping my argument.