Last Wednesday was the kind of night where I tend to look at the C-VILLE calendar and my blogs, throw my hands up in the air and say, “There’s nothing going on tonight.” The fact that there is, in fact, a ton of music happening on any given night may be a foregone conclusion for some. But for the music columnist who has trained himself to pick out whatever seems the most exceptional that week, and then to write about it, sometimes it’s easy to forget about the regulars.
Jim Waive is among the cast of local musicians you can count on to play same time, same place, every week: Wednesday at the Blue Moon Diner.
And as sure as Wednesday arrived, Jim Waive showed up to Blue Moon in a wide-brimmed hat and started plucking away on a battered Gibson acoustic just after 8pm. A friend who professes to be at Blue Moon for Waive’s sets literally every Wednesday paused mid-thought to let me know that the cover of “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys,” most famously performed as a duet between Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, was a new cover for Waive. When a fiddler arrived just after 9pm, Waive was emboldened to take on a more ambitious tune, surprisingly well-suited to guitar and fiddle: “Eleanor Rigby.” The smokey timbre of Waive’s voice is a constant no matter how hard he’s singing or where he is on the register, testament to how often he does it (weekly, at least) and how well he does it. A pair at the bar sang along to the choruses, at least as loud as Waive himself. “Look at all the lonely people,” indeed. Tally: One Beatles cover; several Elvis heads, one pint of beer.
I picked up a couple of friends who refused to follow me to my next stop: Love Canon at a regular gig recently moved from The Southern to Rapture. So we all stopped at Miller’s for a pop on the patio. One friend complained about how much better Downtown Charlottesville (Miller’s, specifically) used to be way back when. I wondered, how different could it have ever been, sitting out on the patio at Miller’s on a Wednesday smelling cigarettes while inside, John D’earth, chin down and trumpet up, toots like Nat Adderley from under a cumulonimbus of hair. It being the last week of spring, the option to drink al fresco cut D’earth’s audience in half. Between sets, the backed-up bar crowd, plus a pair sharing a table who seemed to be on a date, clapped wildly for the trumpeter. “Aw, shucks,” he said, affecting a bow, as I walked back outside. Tally: One Charlie Brown moment; several cubic feet of fresh air; one more pint of beer.
And on we went to Rapture, to what seemed to be by far the most popular of the regular gigs. Inside, Love Canon, a group of legit musicians (Jesse Harper, Adam Larrabee, Zack Hickman, Andy Thacker, Darrell Muller and Nate Leath) was drawing from a deep well of chops to provide diversion, donning mock rock star dress and picking out scarily proficient bluegrass versions of 1980s hits. I wanted to hear their cover of Toto’s “Africa,” but as we arrived the band took a break that took longer than it did for me to finish my glass of water, ushering in the kind of body-tired that screams “go home” at the mind. Tally: Nostalgia for a time before my time; various networking opportunities; water.
As my night eyes started stinging, a vague sense of shame lingered. My quest to see everything in a night had only taken me to three places, and not even as far as the Corner, where Reggae Greg Ward was scheduled, or Durty Nelly’s, with its cast of regulars, or even to Carlton’s, which is redefining regularity with nightly jazz.
But hey, there’s always next Wednesday.