Saturday, September 10, 2005

Carolina in My Mind 2: Cat's in the cradle, and the silver spoon...

The main catalyst for our trip to North Carolina was the wedding of friends in Carrboro. Just down the street from the ceremony and reception (itself a merry affair, complete with mariachi and salsa bands) was the Cat's Cradle, one of those classic clubs that balances a great lineup of acts with a pleasantly dumpy environment. You know the type: the (Rock) Island in Houston (at least when I lived there in the 70s), the 9:30 Club in DC (at least when I visited in the early 80s), the Continental and Mohawk Place in Buffalo, and on and on. Every livable/visitable city of a certain size since at least the heyday of punk has one, or should. These are the joints that make America great, if you ask me, and I would be perfectly happy making a road trip across the land checking them all out, particularly if it were, say, 15 years ago and gas wasn't outrageous and I wasn't a middle-aged guy who prefers sitting down all the time.

Lo and behold, the night we were in Carrboro, there was a 10th Anniversary party for No Depression at the Cradle, featuring four acts from the area. This was almost too convenient for words, since one of the main things I associate with that famous triangle of NC college towns is that glorious magazine. It would be sort of like going to Hawaii and finding, oh, Don Ho playing at your hotel's swimming pool (which happened to us about ten years ago, but that's another story) (well, that's the whole story, so let's get out of these parentheses and back to Carrboro). We missed the first two acts on the bill (maybe next time, Chris Stamey) but arrived just in time for the second or third song in Tres Chicas's set.

I didn't know them, but I was hooked from the first note I heard: three strong lead singer/songwriters, unbelievably tight band and harmonies, nice songs in that time-honored Gram Parsons tradition (where the lyrics actually venture out of the easy tropes of drinkin' and lovin' and into the deep waters of shame and salvation), the works. Don loved 'em, too, and he's not a particular fan of alt (or any other)-country. Bought the CD, but I can't offer an opinion on it since I immediately loaned it to my friend and fellow wedding guest Cheryl, who was the first friend I wanted to tell about them. (They're one of those bands you just want to tell all your friends about, pronto.)

The next and final act of the evening was $2 Pistols.

They seemed perfectly fine but a little generic (absolutely not Don's cup of country tea), and we were dead tired and both felt perfectly satisfied by the Chicas, so we headed out after a song or two, walked up and down the street a bit, then hit the hay.

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