Leilani’s perspective: Heatwave Hopscotch

[image-1]The party was in full swing upstairs, couples twisting and twirling to the 1950’s rockabilly sounds of Blair Carman and the Belleview Boys. With his cherry red button down, black-and-white wingtips, and slicked back hair, Carman did his best Jerry Lee Lewis, twangy tenor and key-pounding prowess far more spirited than you'd expect from his recordings. Aside from a dude in Betty Page Hawaiian shirt almost nailing me with his oversized can of Fosters, the last half of the set was a great time, esspecially when Carman closed it out with a fiery rendition of a Lewis cover, “Whole Lotta Shakin Going On,” playing with his feet and jumping on top of the piano to sing and boogie at the every end.

After two drinks and two stops, food became a priority, so we headed to vendorville and grabbed some generic burgers, fries and a Nathans hot dog to share. We scarfed down every crumb while taking a breather in the Spaghetti Warehouse courtyard and watching Trombone Shorty, who we saw play Jazz Fest last year, but who didn’t really do it for us this time around. (Phil’s comment: “I feel like we’re on the Lido deck.”)

[image-2]Burger fuel got us to New World Brewery and Will Quinland. The place was more jammed that I’d ever seen it, so hopped over to Orpheum and singer-songwriter David Dondero. We chatted with some cheerful underagers waiting outside, then joined the rapt pack of Dondero fans. It was just Dondero and his acoustic guitar and the crowd was drinking it up like it was fine wine, but I was a bit underwhelmed. I liked his smart lyrics, but didn’t think he had the stage draw, that certain magnetism wielded by other singer-songwriters wield who do the solo-on-the-stage-just-me-and-my-guitar-thing. It was good, just not great.

Back to the Cantina and the last few songs of The Pack A.D. – those chicks can RAWK – then back to New World Brewery for the last, blistering 20 minutes of GreyMarket, a local alt rock duo that totally impressed the hell out of me. Two smartly-dressed guys -- Michael Gargiulo on drums, laptop and backup vocals, and Cave McCoy on lead vocals, guitar and pedals -- made more noise than I’ve heard bands with twice the amount of members, and even had a quaint little light show going. The set was badass enough and they rocked my face off so thoroughly that I think I may have to invite them into the studio for a CL Sessions visit. At the very least, I know I’m gonna have to check these guys out again soon. Can’t wait.

[image-3]The last show of the night, The Visitations, was all I'd hoped for and more -- but all of 50 people were there to enjoy the geeked-out electro pop and folk-psychedelia from another of Athens' Elephant 6 offshoots. Guess it was a bit too experimental for the 'MNF crowd, especially with Bonerama on the big stage at the same time. Those folks missed out on something pretty fun and special. This particular incarnation of the Athens ensemble was a duo -- barefoot Davey Wrathgaber on acoustic guitar and vocals, Matt Bender on electric guitar and accordion, and between them, a upraised laptop to help make all the noise. The duo had much fun on stage despite playing to a near-empty venue, and ended the show in a wall of chaotic sound, Wrathgaber taking a running jump off stage towards the bar, his partner doing a little jig and closing things down. The show was over, just like that. To you folks who missed it, I say make sure to catch these guys next time they hit town. It was defintiely the treat of the night (not counting GreyMarket).

More pics by Phil:

First drink of the night.


Kinobe, from behind.


Entering the Cuban Club ballroom.


Blair Carman, conquerer of his piano.


Me, eating and tweeting in the courtyard.


GreyMarket, rocking out.


Marked as underagers.


The Visitations' Matt Bender on accordion.


Last night, having a grand old time all along the way.

We cruised into Heatwave around 9 p.m., missing the monsoon and arriving just in time to catch a snatch of blues guitarist Michael Burks at the Bandshell before we landed in the Cantina for Kinobe and Soul Beat Africa. (Kinobe pictured, photo by Phil Bardi.)

We were in our spot two seconds and one sip into our drinks before we were befriended by a pair of jolly 40ish Bradenton gals (I nicknamed them Angel and Curly), who immediately pushed a few Ace’s Lounge cards on us, then admitted to being friends with the owner. Angel went on to extol all Ace’s virtues (she called it the “Skipper’s Smokehouse of Bradenton”) and about the hotel conveniently located right across the street, the Jimmy Buffett-themed Parrot Inn. You could virtually make a night of it – see a show at the famed Ace’s, stumble over to the Parrot and get a room, hit Bradenton Beach the next day if your head’s still attached. (Angel admitted she’d already booked a room for Red Elvises in October.) Then she and Phil started chatting about photography and her husband’s new hobby of taking pics of the sky through his mega-high tech telescope, and how Saturn was so clear right now that you could see its moons. When Phil ducked away to take pics, Angel latched onto me, and told me about how excited she was to see some world music, the greatness of what we were seeing while we were seeing it, the lady who scooted into the huge spot in front of us and whether she was a temporary or permanent stopper. I ran into Van, spotted a dude who was a deadringer for Donald Sutherland, enjoyed a few songs worth of the warm and buoyant Ugandan music, then snagged Phil and dragged him to the Ballroom. (Many more pics and tidbits after the jump.)

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