A Little Monday Night Music

Last Monday night, I convinced a good friend to come with me to a very small coffee shop which serves alcohol, located between a tattoo parlor and a cupcakery. We go because I have discovered a band that few people have heard of (shocking) while watching the show Chuck. At a crucial moment in the plot, a beautiful song, filled with rhythm and stringed instruments and lovely lyrics bursts onto the scene. As soon as the episode is over, I go to the well-maintained website for the music in Chuck and find the name of the band: Alameda. The song: Silver Hands. I google them, finding their website, finding that their song, the very one I want, is available for free download. I see that they are from Portland and it looks like they are coming to Spokane in March. All this happens in late November. After this, I listen to the song often. It becomes part of my Guacamole playlist (so named because I am always in the mood for guacamole). I decide that I would like to walk down the aisle to this song at my wedding.

March approaches.

There are potential conflicts on the night of the concert. Other things that I would like to do, but do not. For one reason or another, I find myself free on this random Monday night and making my way to a very small coffee shop/bar that I have never noticed before, even though it is close to many things I do notice often. My friend, who is coming because she is generous and willing to try new things, has never heard of this band until I told her this long story of how I found out about them myself.

We take the last viable seats in a place that seems to comfortably fit 15 people. We order tea and wait. Two girls join us at our table, hoping that we won’t mind.

My friend and I quietly discuss the fact that everyone in the place either has a beard or is wearing plaid. This is not an exaggeration. There is one table in front of us populated with several men who look like they could be football players. With them, sits a blond young man, skinny, in a plaid shirt. My friend and I look at one another and try to understand what is happening in this group. Did the plaid shirt bring his macho friends along? We sing “One of these things is not like the other” from Sesame Street, almost under our breath.

A cellist sets up, a guitarist joins her. They begin to play without preamble and we assume that they are the band we have come for, though my email to the owner of the coffee shop revealed that another band is set to play tonight, a band with the unlikely name “Terrible Buttons.” My band goes first.

They play lovely, haunting music and I keep waiting for them to play Silver Hands. They do, almost at the very end, and it is just as I’d hoped it would be live. Even though the band is performing without three members (they left the clarinetist, violinist and electric guitarist at home) they sound wonderful and fill the room. The two girls in front of us, wearing ironic glasses and vintage, do not touch their wine as they listen to the music, they are pulled in by the magic of the cello, the guitar, the voices.

I think this until I notice that they seem to trade off checking their iPhones. I begin to ignore them.

The concert is over too soon and my friend and I make our way to the front. I like to buy music straight from musicians, to talk with them and to find out their story. I become a more gregarious, assertive and excitable version of myself at a concert, no matter the size. I tell Stirling, the singer, songwriter and founder about how I discovered the song and have had this concert on my calendar for months. I do not tell him that I almost did something else instead of coming tonight. But I know, and I am glad that I did. He is blown away by the information that here, in Spokane, where he has never been before, someone knew about this concert, knew about his band and came to it. He gives my friend and I stickers and postcards and continues to say how humbled he feels. I mention that I would like to walk down the aisle to “Silver Hands.” He clasps his hands together and says that if it happens, he would be able to retire, knowing that his music had been a success. We say thank you again and again and sit down to see what we think of Terrible Buttons.The room has become even more full, though I didn’t think that was possible. A population of rather strangely dressed people turn out to all be members of the band and they begin to play. Immediately, I wonder who decided that these bands should play together: Alameda, who include lush musicality and thought-provoking lyrics and work with the Portland Symphony, and Terrible Buttons whose genre is known as “Folk Horror.” If anyone knew before reading this post that this was a genre, please leave a comment. I am here to tell you that it is sort of screamy, with a lot of bass and possibly deep lyrics that I didn’t hear. And an accordion. We got up to leave (after I googled the band on my phone) and a couple around my parent’s age asked if they could have our seats. We relinquished them graciously.

Outside, we found Stirling once more and thanked him again for coming out, telling him we had to go, we had to get up early the next day. He told us how friendly he found Spokane and we whipped into “visitor’s bureau mode,” telling him about the historic buildings, the world’s fair in the ’70’s, and other items of interest. I told him that I would let him know if I used his song in my wedding. He was beside himself once again, so much so that I was emboldened to ask him if he would be willing to perform it.

“Yes,” he said, “I would love to do that.”

“Would you slow it down so the timing was right?” I asked.

My friend laughed and said that I drove a hard bargain.

He agreed and shook my hand on it, telling me that his email address was on the cd.

We said goodnight and went our separate ways.

Check out Alameda here and download Silver Hands for free.