Terry (l_stboy) wrote,

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Mardi Gras at Cafe Van Kleef

There really weren't a whole lot of options on craigslist for Mardis Gras celebrations in the bay area, but damn, I think I picked the best one of the lot.

Blue Bone Express is an Oakland based jazz sextet that specializes in New Orleans jazz. Three horns, percussion and a tuba, and even though it's a bunch of white guys from California, they know what they're doing, from the shuffling pace of their dirges to the joyous bang the tuba starts when he just can't hold back any longer. Oh, those horns took me places, and good ones. My memory isn't as fallible as I claim, I just need the right stimulus to bring things flooding back.

The venue was perfect, the slightly french, oddly familiar Cafe Van Kleef. There are years of odd tchotchkes on every surface, a santoria shrine, skulls and musical instruments, Jesus and a couple of dancers or lovers looking down from above the stage, and an antelope antler and a bronze statue of liberty as bar pulls. Every surface of the bar and behind the stage is eclectic and busy. The cafe serves French food during the day, and though I wasn't impressed with the free red beans and rice they were handing out, I'm tempted to go back. And dude- free red beans and rice and king cake, delivered with a smile, and great music on Mardi Gras!

I had a conversation with a guy who plays blues with two of the members of the band, and he gave me the names of a half dozen venues in Oakland and SF to see all kinds of jazz and blues. Of the list, I only remember the names Red Devil, the Independent, and the Boom Boom Room, but that's a start.

iridium was there at the front of the room, looking stunning in a blue silk top and dancing up a storm with some friends. I stayed near the back, at the bar, sipping whisky, drinking in the atmosphere and contemplating an excursion to Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. vyrin came by and had a chat, ravenslost said hello, and I met a couple of recent Boston transplants, Dee and Justin, and swapped many stories, offers to do stuff, and a completely random comparison of Blue Thunder and Airwolf with a passerby. I stayed for 2 1/2 of the 3 sets, until j called looking for dinner after putting the newspaper to bed. It took a few short minutes to hop across to the Marina IHOP for swedish pancakes. Seriously, San Francisco, you've gotta be able to do better than IHOP after midnight. Not that I don't appreciate your tart little lingonberries. Sadly, I was the only late-night diner in festive regalia.

So... Consider that day siezed. Still no idea if I want to give up anything symbolic, for new years or lent. Asceticism may just not be my thing.
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