14 December 2008


Saturday afternoon. London is drenched--I've just about recovered from my run/swim in the park. I hop on the bus back to the Shire as it is time to do some grandparent duties. Last night, though, after dinner at the intermittently good Quod, we went to see a band called Eclectica! play at the Holywell Music Room, a stalwart Oxford venue. 

After a failed Nordic experience last week, Maman explained that she had put Papa on a three strikes-and-you're-out warning. I thought she meant she'd kick him out if he took her to three shite gigs in a row but she really just meant he would be demoted from his position of Culture Minister. Luckily, all attendees in our party were tapping their feet along and signalling thumbs up, even if my godfather and Papa were pretending to be Louis Balfour every time the audience started clapping in the middle of one of the songs (I'm nowhere experienced enough to know when to clap): "Nice... Great..."

The band consists of a gorgeous, blonde violinist, a cellist and two excellent jazz guitarists. Pete Oxley, who seems to be in charge, is the most famous, I think (unless you count the violinist playing as lead violinist for the Simply Red tour; she does get bonus points for having attended St Jocks' College) and they play, well, eclectica: a bit of jazz, a bit of folk, a bit of tango, a bit of festive music--a bit of all sorts really, from Piazzolla to the Beatles to In the Bleak Midwinter). They've performed at Ronnie Scott's, anyway, so I'm sure Monsieur Exquisite would approve.

I was enjoying the concert but only really perked up just before the interval when the violinist (clad in a red, sequined top and tight leather trousers) ditched her violin mid-song in favour of her gorgeous soulful voice. In fact, the whole rendition of Joni Mitchell's River was superb--powerful and very moving--and by far my favourite song of the evening (and not just because it had words in it). Annoyingly, it doesn't seem to be online, although some of the violinist's other samples are on her website.

Rather than selling CDs after the gig, the band instead were offering what sounded to me like some kind of pyramid scheme: pay £12 and get a two-track sampler now and then in April, we will send you a two-disc live album recorded from tonight and another gig we're doing. Luckily, Papa cannot attend a concert or musical without buying the CD (even if he hated it) and even more luckily, the CD contains River and another track I liked--Chick Corea's Spain.

My other favourite song was an instrumental called Mist. Apparently, the Oxford jazz club where Oxley is based has been in the finals for the UK's top jazz club two years in a row and this year was told that the club had won. He wrote a song called Got It, only to discover that it all went pear shaped and the club, for whatever reason, didn't win after all, so he wrote another song instead, Mist. It was so sad it should probably have been called Wist(ful) instead so of course I liked it.

The only problem with a band who self-define as eclectic is that I don't know how to list their genre in iTunes--as an eclectica (with a small e)  aficionada and a fan of Everything Is Miscellaneous, I know you shouldn't have a "miscellaneous," "random," "eclectic," "divers," or similar section in your music library (or bookshelf/wardrobe/kitchen) or it encourages metadata sloth and rapidly becomes a dumping ground for stuff-you-can't-be-bothered-to-file-properly.

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