Sunday, December 16, 2012

Concrete Blonde Opens the Sinclair 12/12/12

Concrete Blonde at the Sinclair 12/12/12 (Boston Globe photo)
On Wednesday night we saw Concrete Blonde perform the first date of at the brand new Sinclair club in Cambridge. The club was scheduled to open months ago, but a series of construction delays caused shows to be rescheduled at other clubs. Concrete Blonde wound up being their inaugural show.

I first saw Concrete Blonde with my dear friend Tyson back in 1991. They opened for Sting at the Worcester Centrum and they really blew us away. Now it's 21 years later. A lot of the music I listened to back in high school is no longer in regular rotation. I have different taste now. But I still love Concrete Blonde. I've come to think that if Black Sabbath were fronted by a chick, it would sound an awful lot like them.

I hadn't been sure what the new club would be like, as it billed itself as a  club and  restaurant. I guess I kind of expected small cabaret tables, a set-up similar to Club Passim around the corner. That turned out not to be the case. The restaurant is actually a separate part of the building. It will be opening soon. The club itself is standing-room. We stood up near the stage, but there were also several levels of balconies along the perimeter. Everything was pristine and new, and you could smell a hint of "new car smell".

Frontwoman Johnette Napolitano was clearly excited to be the band to officially open the club. She  wished everyone a happy 12/12/12 and gave a shout-out to the Virgin of Guadalupe (Johnette has an affinity for all things Latin American, as do we). The band rocked hard for a full 2+ hours. They played some new songs, old favorites, and covers. They started off the night with a stripped-down version of the new Rosalie. Johnette's voice was clear and amazing.

Then they seriously rocked on Beds Are Burning. It was an intense show; seeing them in such an intimate club was a very different experience than it was in a stadium. A small handful of songs were brand new to me, but most were familiar. Laurie Sargent joined Johnette on vocals for one song. The band powered through song after song, never even leaving the stage before they launched into an encore. Before we knew it, it was 11:30. After a frenetic new I Know the Ghost (with several false starts as Johnette tried to get guitarist Jim Mankey to sing with her), they ended the night with Tomorrow Wendy, which was just beautiful. Great band, great set, great venue!

Everyone has said that the club sounded incredible as well. We sacrificed good sound quality for a position right up front, but it's nice to know that overall the place has good acoustics.

Set List:

Beds Are Burning
God Is a Bullet
Damage I've Done
Take Me Home
Mexican Moon
Ghost Riders in the Sky
Everybody Knows
Happy Birthday
True (w/ Laurie Sargent)
As Tears Go By
Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man
Heal it Up
Scene of a Perfect Crime
Run Run Run
100 Games of Solitaire
The Real Thing
Your Haunted Head
I Know the Ghost
Tomorrow Wendy

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Thanksgiving with Marty in St. Thomas

View from our balcony at Secret Harbour
 We just got back from spending another Thanksgiving with our dear friend Marty in St. Thomas. Craig's brother Steve and their mother went with us again this year. Jet Blue offered a nonstop flight from Boston, and we jumped at the chance to avoid American and United. The flight was at 9:15 a.m. (how civilized!) so it meant we didn't have to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the airport this time. Bonus!  Jet Blue staff were very courteous. They not only give out free soft drinks, but free snacks as well. They even showed a sense of humor when we bounced a bit on the landing and they came over the PA saying, "In case you missed it, we have arrived in St. Thomas." The whole plane erupted into laughter.

We arrived in St. Thomas at 2:15 p.m. We got our rental car and headed straight to Food Center to buy provisions. Marty met us in the parking lot and then we headed to Secret Harbour. Though we had reserved a 2-bedroom suite, they didn't have one available and instead gave us two 1-bedroom suites right next door to one another. This worked out ok as Mom now had her own suite, and ours became the party suite. By 4:30, we were sitting out on our patio preparing to watch the sunset.

Marty and Mom enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at Molly Malone's
Marty's motorcycle club president Biker John had generously invited us to his house for Thanksgiving dinner, but the timing was such that they ate before we arrived. So instead we decided to make a reservation at Molly Malone's in Red Hook. We had eaten there last year and it had been a great deal - all you can eat and drink for $25. 

We had salad, turkey vegetable soup, turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing, peas, and cranberry sauce. Plus wine. For dessert we had slices of pumpkin pie.  It was all delicious. Then we went back to the hotel and watched the Patriots proceed to trounce the Jets on the late game. What a Thanksgiving!

The next day was Cap'n Marty's Island Hop, our Black Friday tradition. We always rent a boat and cruise around the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. We got up early. Marty went back to his house to pick up a couple of things and we met him at the American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook. Steve, Craig, and Mom bought provisions for the day at Marina Market while I helped Marty to fill out the paperwork for the boat rental.

Cap'n Marty's Island Hop
We met Marty's friends Marni and Christie, who would be joining in on the fun. They have only been on the island for a couple of weeks, and haven't had much down time to enjoy their new tropical surroundings. We loaded up the boat and coolers and set off from Red Hook at around 8:30. It was a gorgeous day.  The water was a beautiful turquoise color. The boat had a nice full-sized bimini that shaded us from the sun. As we "putzed around", as Marty put it, we watched pelicans dive into the water. Schools of fish jumped simultaneously out of the water and created quite a splash.

It was so relaxing. This is what we daydream about at home during cold weather, or particularly stressful times at work. We anchored in Peter Bay off St. John and did some swimming. The water was beautiful. As usual, we marveled at the gorgeous villas on the shore. One belonged to Mick Jagger. Another was  featured on The Real Housewives of somewhere. Even Marty swam here, though he usually thinks that November is winter and too cold to swim.

Anchored in Peter Bay
Sandy Caye
Marty at Sandy Caye
We pulled up our anchor, and headed to Tortola to clear customs so that we could go to the British Virgin Islands.  Once we cleared customs, Marty took us to Sandy Caye. We moored the boat and swam ashore. It looks like a desert island, with gorgeous white sand and palm trees. 

After that we headed to Foxy's Tamarind Bar on Jost Van Dyke. We got a round of bushwhackers and ordered some lunch. Craig and I each had the chicken curry roti, a local dish which was absolutely fabulous. Craig had gotten it last year as well, and had been looking forward to it ever since. We also sampled the popcorn conch and conch fritters that the others had ordered. We got a second round of bushwhackers. They had a sign advertising Foxy's Black Friday sale at the gift shop - too funny!

Then we went a few bays over to the Soggy Dollar Bar. We moored the boat. Mom didn't feel like swimming so she stayed on the boat to take a nap on the rocking boat in the late afternoon sunlight. We swam to shore and got a round of their signature drink, the painkiller.  The round came in plastic Soggy Dollar cups. We have a collection of these at home from previous years, and we would add these to them. We watched a local rasta with dreads down to the ground coaching a young tourist girl about how to get a ringer on a nail with a swinging ring game.

 We swam back to the boat, and it was time to start heading back to St. Thomas. Marty has been coaching Steve (aka First Mate Milky) to drive the boat. Steve drove most of the way back to St. Thomas. Marty said next year it should be Cap'n Milky's Island Hop. When we arrived back at American Yacht Harbor, there were lots of locals waiting for the ferry with their Black Friday goods from K-Mart and Home Depot: huge flat screen TV's, stoves, etc.

Cap'n Marty, Craig, Steph, Mom, Anna, Steve, Christie, and Marni at Foxy's

Cap'n Marty and Craig drinking painkillers at Soggy Dollar
Saturday was a low key day. We enjoyed Secret Harbour, spending the day on the beach. We floated in the water sipping drinks and enjoying the beautiful beach. We ate dinner at The Sunset Grille restaurant on premises. The amuse-bouche (a term that Marni had just taught us yesterday)
was a watermelon mint shooter served in a miso spoon. It was delicious. We all tried nutwhackers (bushwhackers  made with chocolate and  peanut butter - plus you gotta love the name) and we loved them. For an appetizer we got beef tenderloin tataki on wanton chips, with mango salsa and wasabi cream. We also got plantain and conch fritters which had  a great texture and were very yummy. I got the peppercorn and coriander encrusted tuna with white bean ragout and sweet and sour eggplant caponata. There were two huge hunks of tuna. I gave one to Craig, and he shared his lump crab and potato encrusted mahi mahi with sauteed broccolini and pineapple pear jam with me. It was all absolutely delicious.We got another round of nutwhackers and for dessert a decadent chocolate lava cake served with vanilla ice cream. It was a pricey meal but was a true fine dining experience. And to get back home, we just had to walk down the beach. You can't beat that.

Sunset from Secret Harbour
Steve, Marty,  Craig, Mom, and Steph at the Sunset Grille
On Sunday we went to Coki Point Beach, a fun and funky little tourist beach. As usual, we were met as soon as we arrived by a local who could get us things - beach chairs, snorkel gear, beach umbrellas. We rented some chairs from him and requested a shady spot on the beach. He led us to a nice spot where we pitched our chairs. A jolly woman named Dawn came over and introduced herself as our waitress. You have to love drink delivery on the beach! But we weren't ready to drink just yet. Craig, Steve, and I went into the water and floated around in the turquoise water.

As soon as we got out of the water, Dawn was right there to take our order .She talked us into a round of  OGD (Oh God Damn!) which is a lemonade slush and Bacardi rum drink. We ordered plates of jerk chicken. It started to rain a bit and Dawn invited us inside the snack shack. We were mostly covered by a tree and the rain was moving  through so quickly that we just toughed it out.  Dawn then arrived with a towering stack of styrofoam food containers. Inside each we had jerk chicken legs, fried onions, fried plantains, and a salad. Deliciously spicy! We ordered another round of OGD's to wash it down.

After enjoying our lunch, Craig, Steve, and I went back into the water. As we were drying off and preparing to leave, Dawn came to say goodbye and we got a picture with her. She is quite a character!

We came back to the hotel and watched sunset from the balcony. Nobody felt like getting dressed to go out to eat. So  we went inside and ordered a large meat lovers and a large pepperoni, green pepper, and mushroom pizza from SeƱor Pizza in Red Hook. It came in 35 minutes. We watched football and enjoyed our pizza. Then we played our favorite game, Pass the Pigs. It is a dice-type game which uses little rubber pigs as the dice. You get points depending on how they fall. Craig kept getting epic fails (when the two pigs touch one another it is "a very undignified position for pigs" so you lose all your points) and lost all of his 99 points, but he made an incredible comeback in one of the rounds. We had a lot of laughs.

Coki Point Beach

Steve, Craig, and Mom at Coki Point Beach
Mom, Steph, Dawn, Craig, and Steve at Coki Point Beach

Sunset from Secret Harbour

On Monday we had another Secret Harbour beach day, We were in the water from 11:45 - 4:00 with no break. We went to the newly re-opened Latitude 18 for dinner. They had been closed last year so Mom had never been there. We got a table right on the water. It's nice to dine with the breeze in your hair and watching boats bob on the dock. We ordered painkillers. For an appetizer, we got escargot in blue cheese on garlic toast. It was amazingly delicious. For our main course, we
each ordered the special - a NY strip steak  with peppercorn Jack Daniels sauce, chive mashed potatoes, and mixed veggies. The Barefoot Davis Band (with guitar, electric guitar, bass, keys, and fiddle) played some good songs, including Dylan's You Ain't Goin' Nowhere and Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. After their first set a high school kid named Zane did stand-up. He's legally blind (with cane and service dog) and mined it for material. He really had a lot of guts to get up there and some of his jokes were really funny.

Steph and Marty

Mom, Steve, Marty, and Craig at Latitude 18
Craig, Mom, Marty, and Steve at the Delly Deck
On Tuesday we got packed up in the morning and then headed to Havensight. We had a nice lunch of sandwiches at the locals' favorite Delly Deck. Then we went to Sean's store, the Pirate's Chest and bought some souvenirs. It was nice to get a chance to see Sean, a fellow Bostonian whom we have met on many occasions. We said our goodbyes to Marty until next year and headed to the airport. Though we didn't have a direct flight home we had a stopover in San Juan and everything worked like clockwork. Jet Blue rocks.

Secret Harbour palm trees
It was another great visit to the Caribbean, and we were thrilled that Marty was able to spend the entire time with us. On many of our vacations, we tend to be going from morning til night nonstop. St. Thomas is a place where we are always able to relax and unwind, without overscheduling ourselves. It was much needed and much appreciated.