Saturday, November 18, 2006


In a familial operation rivaling in its planning and execution D-Day or at least the casino heist in Ocean’s Eleven, we managed to get two dads—cousin Seth and me—two moms—Jen and Seth’s wife, Catherine—and two kids, Mimi and cousin Miranda—from home, out to dinner, off to the Harvest Festival and Gidden’s School, and then finally, on to the Paramount Theater where we enjoyed last night’s concert by the Portland-based folk-trad-alt-prog-rock band the Decemberists.

It was a swell show; the music lovely, haunting, toe-tappable, sing-alongable, earnest and quite sweet. I’ve been enjoying the band’s strange new album, The Crane Wife, which, if I understand correctly, is based loosely on some sort of Chinese Folk tale.


Sometimes the group veers towards early Spinal Tap territory, but they do so with such lack of pretension and excess of naiveté that it comes off as charming. Even the lead singer, Colin Meloy, who I’m sure could be accused of taking himself too seriously, appears—at least on stage—to be a pretty regular guy having a great time making music he enjoys.

That’s what I got, anyway.

Mimi had seen the band last summer at an outdoor concert, had gotten a souvenir t-shirt (with a bicycle on it), and hasn’t protested too much lately if you call the Decemberists her “favorite band,” and so it was really heartwarming to see her last night, in the balcony seat the row ahead of me, peering steadily through Jen’s opera glasses at the group on stage.

Sometimes they sound to me like Jethro Tull from the Thick as a Brick period. Tull was the first concert I ever went to by myself, at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, back in, it must have been 1971.

So there were a few moments last night when a really nice full-circle thing was going on for me, connecting all of us in the theater through more than three decades of music.


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