Sunday, April 20, 2014

That was fun

I gave my wife a rose, once.

That was about 35 years ago. We'd just met and this was our first date, and I wanted to impress her.

So I brought her a rose. A single, red, long-stemmed rose. And I knew the moment when I gave it to her that I had indeed impressed her.

"I really thought it was sweet," said Kim as we reminisced. "I thought, 'At last, I found a man who brings me flowers. If I could have kept it forever, I would have.'"

We went on to get married, happily, despite the fact that I haven't given her a rose in the 34 years since then. It was never my intention to withhold roses from her through the passage of time, it's just the way things shaked out. We ended up buying cars and houses and cats instead.

In fact, we do a lot of things together, and our most recent passion has been the music of Underhill Rose, a trio of talented singers from Asheville (Eleanor Underhill on banjo, Molly Rose Reed on guitar and Salley Williamson on upright bass) who return semi-regularly to perform their brand of Americana at High Rock Outfitters in Uptown Lexington. They were in town for a show Friday night, in fact, and Kim and I wanted to do something nice for them just to show our joy and appreciation for what they do. This was about the 10th time we've seen them perform and we consider them to be our friends.

Where'd those (Underhill) roses come from? (Photo by Donnie Roberts)
"We ought to get them each a rose, since they're Underhill Rose," said Kim, with more than a little irrefutable logic. Yes, truth be told, it was her idea. I thought it was great. So we went to the florist that morning, bought three long-stemmed red roses, and waited for evening to fall.

As the crowd formed before showtime, I was pleased to see a couple of new faces in the seats. Both were there, they said, because of previous blogs I'd written about Underhill Rose and they wanted to see what all the fuss was about. That was nice.

Then the girls came on stage — we were sitting on the front row — and started singing through their playlist. They pretty much had the undivided attention of the HRO audience of about 70 or so folks, who answered each heartfelt song with heartfelt applause. It was great. We've seen them perform in several venues the past two years, and HRO is by far the best listening room and with the most artist-respectful audiences that we've seen. The girls deserve that, and it's no wonder why they keep returning to Lexington. (See here for a blog about HRO)

But Kim and I still weren't sure when to give them the roses. During the set break? How about when they sing "Love is a Rose," which is usually their finale? How about after the show was over?

During the set break, I peered with squinted eyes at their playlist on the stage floor. "Love is a Rose" was not on the list. That settled it.

"We'll give them the roses when they return from their break," I told Kim.

When the girls reassembled on the stage and stepped up to the mics, I got up from my seat. Kim handed me a rose, one by one. I gave the first one to Salley, and wished her a happy birthday, which is on Monday. Then I gave one to Molly. I wanted to tell her "A rose for a Rose," but my mouth wouldn't work. I hope I smiled, at least. At this point, the audience was going "Awwww" as the flowers were offered. Then I gave one to Eleanor, and I think I said "Thank you," meaning thanks for all you do. She somehow attached the rose to her mic stand for all to see. Sweet.

I returned to my seat as people clapped. Maybe they were just glad I was finally out of the way, I guess, and the show continued.

The shows, by the way, are lots of fun. The girls have great stage presence and they sometimes offer humorous off-the-cuff banter. Some songs, like "Unused to You," give us amazing harmonies. At the end of "Bare Little Rooms," Salley comes off the stage to do some impressive flat-foot dancing as Molly and Eleanor play on. It's ear-pleasing, eye-pleasing entertainment at its very best.

Then came the finale. Instead of "Love is a Rose," Salley, well-booted herself, sang the 1966 Nancy Sinatra tune "These Boots Are Made for Walking" as a solo. It was the perfect finishing touch that had everybody smiling. Kim and I flicked Bic lighters above our heads in salute to a wonderful evening. Again.

(Below is a sample from a different venue):

The next time Kim wants some roses, I think I have the answer. It's easy. It's Underhill roses.

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