Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hometown Band

Last Friday night, we began our evening out eating a nice supper together in L-town (A.K.A. Lawrence,  KS--the town we designate as our "hometown" since we live between Topeka and Lawrence).  We dined at one of our "fave," usual places, "La Parilla," (Latin American food to die for), and then walked up and down Mass. Street for the Annual Busker Festival (which was a total hoot).  If you've never been, you must go next year.  The city hires and books professional street entertainers for a solid 3 days from all over the nation--they are the best of the best, and you will be anything but bored.  Just seeing all the interesting locals come out for this festival, with darling puppy dogs and cute kiddos in tow, is fun in and of itself!  Lawrence, KS is, in my opinion, a special town.  It is a decent-sized college town with a small town feel.  It has a thriving downtown for a town its size and for being so close to Kansas City, which also makes it a rarity.  Lawrence is an enigma of sorts, in my view, with its combination of hippies, hipsters, and yuppies, and its historical buildings, varied artsy bistros, and shops ranging from quirky to high-end.  It is like a compilation of every town, big and small, new and old, in one little town.  I adore this little art and music-driven city.  The people are just so friendly and warm.  Matt and I always say we are saving to move to KC someday for retirement, or to move somewhere sunny.  But at times, I think Lawrence is going to need to be my hometown permanently.

We were planning to also attend a concert later in the evening on the 9th Floor of the Oread Hotel in L-town at a lounge called, "The Nest."  The view from this lounge is incredible.  This hotel sits up on Mount Oread on KU's campus, and on a clear night you can see all the way to Bonner Springs.  You can also easily see this hotel from many miles out on I-70--it is enormous and has a blue and red light on the top of it.  It is architecturally quite beautiful and resembles a modern day castle.  We go up there about once a week or so to enjoy music and just have a lovely time together enjoying that view.  There's always a nice breeze, and it is just the best rooftop lounge to which we've ever given our patronage.

The band that was playing last Friday night is called, "Quiet Corral," and they are a local Lawrence band that is just musically awesome all around.  Matt and I got turned onto them through a guitar friend of mine at church who really knows music, and who predicted two years ago that this band would get national recognition--he was right (thanks for another great tip, Armand)!  We have gone to see them numerous times this past year or so, and we are adoring fans for sure.  One of the lead guitarists/singers in this band works on the side in one of our other favorite restaurants in L-town (probably not for much longer I'm guessing--their success is rising fast). We recently spoke with him and congratulated him on the success the band is having (namely, the fact that they will be playing at Austin City Limits in October--which is a huge honor and step forward for their band).  He was so nice, took much time to talk with us, and even took an interest in learning our names.  We were impressed with his humility and genuine kindness.  He then invited us to come to a special show of theirs at the Oread last Friday night, but when we arrived right before the show, they were at capacity, so we didn't get to attend.  They were turning unhappy people away in the droves. What were we thinking not getting there earlier?!  We were not pleased with ourselves.  What can we say, the Busker Fest distracted us!  I was sick about it and still am.  I plan to tell Garrett how sorry we were to miss out on their show the next time I see him.  I am sure it was yet another great one!

I could seriously go on and on about this band--they not only have diverse and phenomenal musicianship, but their songwriting is superb.  Their music has its own unique style and flare--it is not only easy on the ears, but it is uplifting, as well.  It is kind of a mixture of folk, acoustic rock, and modern Americana.  They've been compared to the band, "Mumford & Sons," and you do hear some similarity.  The lead singer, Jesse Roberts, described their style in an interview with Lauren Lloyd for the "LAist," in saying, "Well, we’re just Kansas boys, so our style comes from the wheat fields and a bit from all of the hipsters in Lawrence."  I loved that--perfect description. They are excellent performers with flawless pitch and playing.  All of them are multi-instrumentalists, and they know their various crafts well.  The overall feeling I get at their shows is this distinct and great feeling of, "belonging."  They make it quite clear that they adore their Lawrence fans and always play to a packed room or house of mutually adoring support.  They interact with the crowd well, and that coupled with their thought-provoking music evokes a feeling of community amongst everyone there.  That isn't something that comes with effort--it is a natural gift, and they possess it.  Go see them if you can--no, run to see them.  And don't show up late like we did last week!