Sunday, April 15, 2007


And an action-packed weekend it's been. I attended WhiskyFest Friday night. Left during the "Great Debate: Scotch or Bourbon" between Dalmore master blender Richard Patterson and Jim Beam distiller Fred Noe. I knew going in that the "debate" would be nothing but a spirited but transparent sales pitch for both brands, since they're marketed by the same liquor holding company. Once you get past that, you can enjoy the seminar.

I had to leave early because I was managing front-of-house Friday night (and all weekend). Checked e-mail when I got to work, received an unexpected bit of great news related to the "Year of the Squeaky Wheel." Sones de Mexico was playing that evening, and I was expecting a quick and early close so I could get home, walk the dog, and be relatively fresh for the Hervé This seminar at the Union League Club yesterday morning.

And that's when the monkey wrench came in.

After finally clearing the house, I noticed that there was a man in the gallery. He was waiting for his friend, who holed herself up in a bathroom stall in bad shape. This woman was apologizing profusely for her condition and asked that we tell her friend not to wait for her. Well, that just wasn't gonna happen. I mean, she looked bad. We asked if she wanted medical attention, she declined, stating that she was going to stay in her downtown office for the evening. Finally, I cleared the house of all other employees, leaving me, the woman and her friend.

I managed to get her out of the stall and on her feet. We worked our way into the gallery, where her friend readied her coat. I went for my keys, came back, and she was gone. Headed back into the bathroom, she was bent over a sink, vomiting and apologizing again. Here is where patience kicks in. I went back to the bar, fixed some bitters and ginger ale to settle her stomach, and went about the task of recollecting her again. The apologies were getting on my nerves, not because she was offering them profusely, but because they weren't necessary. We've all gotten sick after a night of drinking before. My concern was whether she had mixed alcohol with some other medication or, God help me, someone dosed her. Looking at her friend, I ruled out the latter.

We walked to the elevator and made our way outside, where he grabbed his car. She puked on the curb and offered that it was nice of me to help her out like this. I allowed that it was part of my job, but I couldn't leave with her in the shape she was in. trying to comfort her embarrassment, I told her that most of the people I've seen in her similar condition usually do that to themselves intentionally. Settled in his car, I finally managed to close up the club and head home.

I made it to bed at 4:30 a.m. after watching the cops slowly scour McGuane Park for the gangbangers that hang out in the darkened southwest corner of the park at 30th and Poplar. As much as I wanted to hear Professor This, I just wouldn't be in the right frame of mind for it, and my snoring during the seminar would not have been appreciated.

This week, I wanted to share a track from Lee Fields, commonly known as "Soul Brother Number 2" for his uncanny - some might say outright aping - of James Brown. The late New York label Desco specialized in cutting molten hot chunks of funk in this style, and Fields' Let's Get a Groove On LP was one of the high watermarks of the Desco era. When Desco split into Daptone and Soul Fire Records, respectively, Fields cast his lot with the latter label, its grittier production, and greasier sound. Problems, the record Fields released on Soul Fire, doesn't have the polish of Let's Get a Groove On. Its charm is in the force that the record hits your ears, like when Ali perfected the rope-a-dope technique. It insists that you sit and take notice.

Of all the tracks on this record, I chose one of the slow jams. "Honey Dove" is a classic, incessant plea of love from Fields to his woman. It's mournful, hopeful, and insistent in the plea of the chorus, with a greasy organ in the background.

Lee Fields: "Honey Dove"

No comments: