Saturday, January 10, 2009

Music, nearby

This weekend delivered us a winter storm that wasn't -- it showed up mostly as rain and hype. Tonight also brought one of our favorite musicians, John Schwab of McGuffey Lane, to a pizza joint in a strip mall just two miles up the road.

Even though John's playlist consists of original songs, country standards and pop covers aimed at folks my age, my wife and I invited our teenage spawns to join us and, to our surprise, they accepted. The older boy made it a fivesome, bringing his girlfriend.

The real shocker? For three hours they sat with rapt attention, tapping their feet and drumming the table in time to the music. When I said goodbye to John after his second set, he smiled sheepishly and confided, "Man, I hope the kids weren't too bored."

Far from it. I doubt that the "kids" will be downloading mp3s of what they heard, but they seemed to genuinely appreciate both the art and the artist.

Tonight, as usual, John asked for requests from the audience. He performed two of mine: "Tennessee," a sentimental postbellum ballad penned by late McGuffey Lane bandmate Bobby Gene McNelley; and Jerry Jeff Walker's "Redneck Mothers." (I don't think our spawns know that I asked for that shit-kickin' anthem, and I'm not telling.) And when someone shouted out, "Girl from Ipanema," John mischievously complied -- think "bossa nova meets Bobcat Goldthwait."

Whenever I attend one of John's gigs, whether he's alone or with the 'Lane, I'm always struck by the energy in the room. Faces, many framed by hair as gray as mine, shine with three decades of memories. Voices rise and know every word. The scene is heartwarming, testament to a true treasure of central Ohio's rich tradition of homegrown music.

For Mrs. KintlaLake and me, catching John's solo act served as a sort of "fix" -- the annual Zachariah's Red-Eye Reunion concert is three weeks away, and this was a tantalizing taste of what's to come. We can't wait.

Great show, John. See you at the Reunion.