The beauty of a bar band is that on any given night, you can walk in, grab a seat in the back and for a cost of a few bottles of beer, you can see a performance that will change your life, the kind of thing that caused Jon Landau to start raving when he found a guy named Springsteen playing in clubs in New Jersey in the early 1970s.
Or you can go to the Greenville Inn in Chagrin Falls and see Skinny Moo.
Friday was the first chance The Wife and I had to see DD’s cover band, in part because we wanted to see them at the Greenville, a classic dive bar not actually in Chagrin Falls. Putting a bar like the Greenville in Chagrin would be like opening a salvage yard in UA: “Hm. We don’t approve of that kind of thing around here…”
DD plays the keyboards. The lead singer is Jay, who is as adept as Juan at making up lyrics on the fly. The guitarist seems like a quiet guy, belying the fact that, from what I understand, he has played in every single metal band in the history of Northeast Ohio. The bass player took prodigious grief because he had been hit on by a guy at a recent gig. And then there’s the drummer, Chaz, who was delighted by the surprise birthday party held for him before the show began. I’m told he turned 67 on Friday, although he doesn’t look a day over, say, 43. And maybe not even that.
Skinny Moo sells themselves with the tagline “funk ‘n stuff.” And that’s about as dead-on a description as anything I could come up with. A good bunch of old funk — Sly and the Family Stone showed up in the set list a couple of times, I think – some Stevie Ray Vaughn, some Motown tunes, a few more recent things. But the really cool thing is that the Moo isn’t content to play covers — they like to fuck around with arrangements and segues, coming up with some bizarre combinations that actually work. My favorite was using an AC/DC song – “Hell’s Bells,” I think — as a segue into, say, a Sly song.
Look — I can’t get into a ton of specifics because Friday night was a little hazy. But here’s the truth about all that fucking around: It takes good musicians — and a good band — to pull it off, and Skinny Moo pulled it off all night.
And then there was the drinking. My night didn’t start off with dinner, despite the fact that I was pretty hungry when we arrived at the bar. Instead, it started off with a shot of Jagermeister, while HP and friends drank an assortment of shots: lemon drops, straight Jager, Jager bombs, cherry bombs… The Wife seemed to be the only one to forgo the liquor, instead settling for a steady diet of Dortmunder Gold, which was in abundant supply. That first shot was my only, but I kept up with the beer until it became clear that I was going to be driving the HP’s truck home from Chagrin.
But not before the table dancing — my first since an ugly night at my one and only sorority formal in Nelsonville. I was having Hanger Five flashbacks all night long.
We stopped at White Castle on the way back to Lakewood, and ate dinner on the HP/DD front porch at 4 a.m. The ladies went to bed first, while DD and I stayed up until about 5 just talkin’ shit. The four of us had a killer breakfast at The Place To Be and while HP left for more drinking at Kamp Krusty and DD melted into the couch, The Wife and I took a spin around Lakewood’s arts festival and then headed home.
Actually we headed back to Chagrin for a stop at Chuck’s, a beer and wine shop we found last summer. We stocked up, got back on the turnpike in time to see an ugly-looking cloud that could have been in the area of the nuclear power plant a few minutes west of where I work, but was instead a fire at a magnesium-processing plant near New Castle. (Kind of a bummer for the folks directly involved, but later on it seemed to produce the coolest sunset we’ve noticed all summer…) Since we didn’t have to worry about a holocaust in western Pennsylvania, we settled down with some fancy beer on our porch. We didn’t hurt ourselves too badly this weekend — not like we did when DD and HP visited Pittsburgh, at any rate — and Uncle Crappy can confidently give his stamp of approval to Skinny Moo.