Show Pics: Are We Back?

Over the last two weekends, I have been out to see a couple of shows, as some of you may have noticed on the instagrams. Two Saturdays ago, I had procured tickets to see Sun June with Buffalo Nichols at 3TEN. This past Saturday, it was a quick trip down to The Far Out Lounge to support SIMS Foundation, see some friends and catch a bit of Moving Panoramas. I have to tell you, it was release of stored anxiety while being a source of stress. I wasn’t sure if it was okay to be out, to feel nearly normal. There were some fist bumps, goose bumps and even a few hugs. Let’s get into the venues, the bands, the CDC, the resulting social politics without being too political and a big batch of photos.

The first thing I realized is that I am out of practice at small talk, not that I am always socially awkward, just out of practice. I think that will be common thread. We can be patient with each other, laugh together at our failed sourdough and clever memes, catch up, like we are getting back into a series after a long break between seasons. Damn, it was nice to see some smiling eyes and unmasked faces.

Weekend one, we were still under the mask rules from the CDC indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 3TEN did a good job of keeping numbers at a point where it was still easy to move between little groups, giving each other space. I also witnessed people pulling masks up between sips of beer. It warmed my heart.

Buffalo Nichols (Carl Nichols) is out of Milwaukee and has made music in a variety of different genres, as part of band, as part of a duo, but he let us all know he is still crafting a solo voice. Singer-songwriter meshed with delta blues would be my callout as his guitar work was glorious, especially when he picked up the metal-body resonator and slide, and he has the vocal tone and wit to own an experience and share the story. He had the line of the night, sharing how nice it was to see people out in the audience, “Shame on you, don’t you know there is a pandemic going on?” It broke the wall a bit for all of us. He closed with an interpretation of “When You Wish Upon a Star”. Keeping tuned as I have certainly neglected the blues and pure Americana during lockdown.

Sun June was like a spiritual cleansing. Ethereal at times, anchored and solemn, then driving and hypnotic. The set list was a pleasant bounce back and forth between older, even pre-“Sun June”, material and the latest release Somewhere released by our friends over at Keeled Scales. Indeed, I bought the gorgeous blue vinyl at the show. “Everything I Have” flowing into “Real Thing” was glorious. Steven Salisbury moved away from Austin, though he and Laura Colwell still collaborate. Santiago Dietche, whom you would know from Growl and Daphne Tunes and others, stepped in to fill the vocal and guitar gaps. But we all know it is Laura’s gorgeous vocals and song-craft that stops us in our tracks to just stand and listen, stand and listen together.

Weekend two had day party vibes, vendors selling wares and charity tables sharing messages of hope, big tent, warmish breeze, a threat of rain. The CDC had just informed the world that the vaccinated could be in close company, indoors and out, no mask required. We have the data. There are now enough people vaccinated that the tables have turned. Those ignoring guidelines pre-vaccine were risking their health and the health of others, but they are now only risking their own health when surrounded by those vaccinated. I hugged people I hadn’t seen in a year and half. I had conversations in groups of people with my mask in my pocket. It all felt close to normal.

Moving Panoramas had a bit of lineup shuffle leaving lockdown, like I am sure many bands have. We’ll need to get a lot of new rosters, but Leslie still has the helm in her firm grasp. As clouds drifted by threatening rain despite brief glimmers of sunlight, tables of people under the big tent and those lounging scattered about the yard were drawn in by the hooks and driving rhythms, hypnotized by the pedal steel harmonies and layered guitar work offset with just the right amount of noise. All the hits, “Radar”, “Baby Blues”, “ADD Heart”, made all feel right.

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