A line of 50 people stood before the entrance of the Firebird some time around 8:30 p.m. Steeped in the well-known buzz of "stoked," they chatted amicably amongst themselves and fellow waiters.
A haze descended over the audience as the lights rose over Yonder Mountain String Band on Friday evening at the Pageant. The night was filled with a groove that could be placed somewhere between the Grateful Dead and the classic bluegrass of Flatt and Scruggs, with country melodies and a musical muscle evident in jam-band circles. Dancers, drinks and bona-fide hippies took delight in all the sights and sounds.
The Old Rock House seemed calm towards the beginning of the night, with just enough people to fill the outer booths of the lower level. As the night went on, however, the venue slowly filled up for the two bands that brought their indie New York sounds to St. Louis.
"Beautiful" isn't a word you often hear applied to the twelve-tone music of the Second Viennese School, but I can't think of a better one to describe the performance of Alban Berg's 1935 "Violin Concerto" by soloist James Ehnes and the symphony under David Robertson Friday morning.
Alvin Youngblood Hart wrapped his hand around the neck of his guitar as though there wasn't a better thing to hold on to. He played the blues, and that's all there was to it.
I often get my pre-show cocktails wrong. Mescaline, for example, was not the right choice for "West Side Story" at the Fox. Although, I must say the all-iguana Jets vs. Sharks rumble was pretty cool. But a tall beer and a whiskey back was perfect for a night with Texas songwriting raconteur Robert Earl Keen at Off Broadway on Thursday night.