We went to the Church last night, for the first time in 2 years. Not church with a small "c" but THE Church, the Stone Church in Newmarket, one of the best clubs in the area. It was Jon Nolan's CD release party, the first CD released by any of the former Say Zuzus, and to add to the good times, Cliff Murphy, the other Say Zuzu guitarist and vocalist, was the opening act. The music was great (Tim McCoy on bass may look like he wandered in from some other band, but he's exactly what the sound needs), the CD was definitely worth the money, and it was great to see old friends. And even better to be getting back to some of the things we used to do.
But there have been a lot of changes. The last time we were at the Church, it was about a week before Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer. There were rumors that the Church was going to close: the old management was tired, or maybe not making enough money; somebody said the neighbors were complaining, and somebody else said they were going to develop the property. But for that one night, everything was the same. The music was good, the crowd was appreciative, and the Church was the same dark, dingy, cozy dive it had always been, at least in the 3-4 years I'd been going there. It stank of smoke, of course, and if you asked for wine the cute dreadlocked waitress had to go dig it out of somewhere in the back, but it was the Church, and that was that. They booked good bands, of every possible variety - Say Zuzu, of course, and Diesel Doug and the Longhaul Truckers; Genderfits and Scissorfight and Spirit Varnish and lots, lots more, including ones you've probably even heard of - and that was what counted.
Since that night.... Well, first there was the cancer, which meant that we didn't have the energy and then, later, the money, to go out much. (Even with excellent insurance, the stupid disease is expensive!) And then the Church closed, to reopen as.... The Stone Church, again, but different. No smoking. A kitchen - a good kitchen. 7PM shows on Sunday nights. Windows, for god's sake! Three big windows that actually let in daylight! Why, come midsummer, there's going to be light still coming in when the opening acts start! Hell, you can even buy advance tickets on line for the big events.
These days, I'm not much for change. We've had a lot of changes lately, and a lot of them have been negative. So when I found out that I couldn't afford tickets for Ralph Stanley last month (yes, that Ralph Stanley; I told you you'd have heard of some of the bands), I wasn't all that upset. I wasn't sure I wanted to see what had been done to the Church, despite the fact that Jon was now the booking agent, and he swore it was all good. But last night, with the CD release, we had to go.
And I'm glad we did. Yeah, it's different - I still can't get over the windows! Or, for that matter, driving home at 10:30 instead of 1:30. But, you know, it's nice to be awake this morning. It was nice to get a good meal instead of eating a bag of potato chips to kill the 2 AM god-I'm-tired muchies. It was nice not to reek of smoke when I got up this morning - and nice not to have to take extra asthma meds, something I'd forgotten about until Lisa reminded me! I didn't visit the bathroom this trip, but I understand I can do that now without fear that the plumbing will stop working - or, worse, have already stopped working without anyone putting up a note....
The main thing is, the music is still the same. It's strong, loud, unapologetic; it's sweaty, hard-working, danceable, and it's the reason for the Church. Everything else... yes, that's changed, but the Church is still there. The music is still there. And, by god, Lisa and I will be there, too.
Say amen, somebody!