Saturday, April 1, 2017

Lisa Loeb and the Great Runa Massacre

This past Thursday night, I had an unexpected night off. I'm in the middle of what's usually my busiest season at my day job, but this year, business is way slower than usual. I had noticed a week or so ago that Lisa Loeb was playing at the Boulton Center on that night, and made a mental note to myself that if I happened to wind up off on that night, maybe I'd go see her. I'm not the biggest fan, but I like the song "Stay", and I've been in the mood lately to see someone I haven't seen live a bunch of times. Now I make a lot of these kinds of mental notes to myself -- the potential life I live in my imagination is a rich and busy one -- but usually when I do that, I either end up working after all, or if I do get the night off, I just say "Oh the hell with it, I'm tired" and go home. But on Thursday, I decided to go for the gusto, and when I finished my part-time job (well, they're both really part time now, but my newer part-time job) I headed for Bay Shore.

I had been on the web site a few days earlier, and there were a lot of tickets left at the time, so I thought that odds were I'd have no trouble getting a ticket. Happily, I was right. In fact, when I asked the box office manager if there were any tickets left, she looked very grateful, like she was just barely restraining herself from saying "Oh God, yes!" So I bought my ticket, grabbed a copy of Good Times, and toddled up the block where I killed an hour eating some mighty fine Chinese food and reading my paper until showtime.

As she had no opening act, Ms. Loeb went on right on time, promptly at 8 PM, telling us from the get-go she was going to play for a little while and send us home nice and early. This was fine with me.

I'd characterize the show as a pleasant evening of music. The room was only about half full, but the crowd that was there was pretty friendly, and I had the impression I was one of the few who hadn't seen her before. There were children in the audience also, which is appropriate, since in addition to her regular folky-pop, she's done a few albums of children's music, and some shows on Nickelodeon as well.

Loeb played some songs from her newest album Feel What U Feel, and although they were OK, they didn't blow me away. She has a nice enough personality, though, and tells some funny stories, which was good. I also liked a number of her older songs, especially a song called "Everyday" from her Cake and Pie album (which sounded a little to my ears like a sea chanty), and another called "Truthfully" from her Firecracker album. I also enjoyed her two best-known hits "Stay (I Missed You)" from the Reality Bites soundtrack album (it's also on her The Very Best Of album), and "I Do" which is also on Firecracker. And because I'm about as mature as a 6-year-old, one of my other favorites of the night was one of children's songs called "The Disappointing Pancake" from her Camp Lisa album. So overall, I felt that the show was definitely worth a price of the ticket and the time spent. And I'd consider seeing her again next time she comes around.

One of the things that also helped was the venue. The Boulton Center is one of my favorite places to see a show on Long Island. It's intimate compared to places like Paramount, and The Space, the seats are comfy, and the sound is always good there. It suits full bands OK -- I've seen bands like Nine Days and The Last Hombres there. Mountain even played there once, and I regret missing that show, because I'd love to have seen how well the venue held up with Leslie West's wailing guitar bouncing off the walls. But it's also a great place for acoustic singers and duos. So the comfort of the venue definitely added to the show. In fact, I even recommended the place to the band Runa recently, which leads me to another story.

Runa is a very talented Celtic music band from Philadelphia (among other places). My family caught them live upstate a couple of years ago at a Celtic festival in Herkimer, NY, and I've since purchased several of their albums. They were supposed to play The Patchogue Theatre a few weeks ago on St. Patrick's weekend, and my wife and I had tickets. Then, that week, a few days before the show, I got an e-mail from the ticket agency letting me know they were refunding my money. I was disappointed, and called the theater, who confirmed that yes, the show had been cancelled. I asked the box office lady what had happened and she told me she wasn't sure why the band had cancelled. So being the pain in the ass that I am, I sent the band an e-mail to ask what had happened (I thought maybe one of the band members was sick) and were they planning to reschedule. Much to my surprise, I  got an e-mail back from them less than 10 minutes later, telling me that this was the first they were hearing that the show was cancelled. A little while later, they e-mailed again, confirming that the show had been cancelled. Apparently the advance ticket sales had been a little sluggish (they're not that well known in this area), so the theater got nervous and just pulled the plug. Thanks a lot, Patchogue Theater! So anyway, I recommended that the band get in toucch with The Boulton Center next time they want to schedule a Long Island show. (Btw, I don't think the Patchogue Theatre box office lady was lying to me, I just think she hadn't been told the full story).

Don't get me wrong, The Patchogue Theatre is a beautiful venue, and I do appreciate their support of local music through their Live in the Lobby series. But they really dropped the ball on this one. They let down the band and the fans. So I really appreciated that even though the sales for Lisa Loeb's show weren't stellar, they still allowed the show to go on. Yay, Boulton Center.

I'll close with some Lisa Loeb fun facts that I posted a few days ago on the Sputnik Music site.

1. Lisa Loeb has her own line of eye wear. (She's been identified for so long with that kind of cute, smart-looking girl who wears glasses, look that I guess it was a natural).

2. She's had a couple of different television shows on cable TV, including a food show with Dweezil Zappa (of all people) and a dating show.

3. Both Ed Helms and Steve Martin played banjo on one of her albums. So she's pretty much cornered the market on banjo-playing comedians.

4. She's the only artist ever to have a #1 hit single without a record deal. Her song "Stay" wound up on the Reality Bites soundtrack because she's friends with the actor Ethan Hawkes, who convinced the director Ben Stiller to give the song a listen. Stiller liked it and put it on the soundtrack, which basically made her career.

5. Even with leggings on, she has really skinny legs.

6. She started doing children's albums even before she was a Mom. And

7. She has a really rude second-cousin, judging by one of the comments I got when I wrote about the show on Sputnik. (That kind of thing is the very reason why I have the "allow comments" function disabled for this blog.)

Anyway, that's all for now. Stay well, and enjoy good music, people.