Scott Vernon, the multitalented guitar player for Sally Majestic, had been telling me about this new band he was playing drums for, Pam Pride and the Hetros, so I thought I would head out for a little bit of funky Scott Vernon-ness. This was a little unlike anything I had covered before, however.
First of all, the show was at noon-thirty and most musicians are still asleep at that hour (maybe not home, but asleep). Second, the band only plays gay bars so this was at The Rainbow Lounge.
The Rainbow Lounge is one of the Fort’s most established gay bars, but I'd never been there so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Essentially, at least at noon on a Saturday, it was like most neighborhood bars. There was a larger than usual dance floor and better lights, but nobody was dancing, and there was a guy handing out free candy (which I thought was pretty nice).
One of the band members got stuck in Dallas, so I didn’t get to hear a full show but I did get to talk to Pride about how supportive the gay community of Funkytown has been of her band, and her businesses ventures. She has a tamale business and is serving food at Studio 80. When we got around to music, I found the lady has a powerful voice, and the music was kind of a jazz lounge thing. She did standards like Walking After Midnight, Mack The Knife, and a killer version of Wade in the Water.
Still, on Sunday, I found myself still Vernon-deficient. I heard that Vernon was putting on a show at the Grotto on University Drive and I had to head out there.
The Grotto is also a neighborhood bar. It has no dance floor to speak of, and no free candy, but there was a blue heeler dog named Hank there on Sunday to play with.
This was an informal crowd, on a cold nasty evil winter night – people looking for good company and good music and that’s what we got. Vernon and Christa Russell took turns doing the singer/songwriter thing with a tasty mix of originals and covers.
Aside from his own stuff, Vernon did his usual assortment of Beatles covers. We got Blackbird, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, Here Comes the Sun, and I’m So Tired. He also did Beck’s Pay No Mind, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips, Under the Milky Way Tonight by The Church, and Breaking the Girl by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
I could listen to Vernon play all night, but we also had Christa Russell – and I’m not exaggerating when I say that she has one of the best voices I’ve heard in the Funkytown music scene. She did her own stuff and a killer version of Crazy by Willie Nelson.
Hank the Dog was having a blast as well. Someone had given him an old ping pong paddle, and he was making the rounds of the bar insisting we throw it for him to retrieve. It was great fun, especially when you hurled the paddle at some unsuspecting patron, only to have this dog fly out of nowhere and intercept it before it hit them. Then he would drop the paddle right back at your feet and stare up at you with those sad eyes until you threw it for him again.
The Grotto is a great venue for big shows in a small room. That said, it’s an even better place to step out of the cold and hear a couple of first rate acoustic guitar acts ply their craft to a room full of friends.