“You gotta come out of the house eventually” read Pete‘s text message, one I read over and over while struggling with myself to open the door. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go out to Old Malachite’s for a beer or two, it was just this eternal feeling of guilt what felt like a millstone wrapped around my neck.
“Take me out tonight, whoa, oh, oh” resonated in my head and I beat that frontier called the front door. Pete was rolling a few cigs when I arrived to Malachite’s, a bucket of beers sweating by his side and a decimated bottle of bourbon by the table. He nods and I tip my hat. We look at a band on stage. Three people, slightly dapper looking and a definite Americana sound on display.
Their name is The Rainy Day Club (or so says the chalk-tattooed board precariously hanging near the dartboard) and they mention a few times that they will perform their new album, Pale White Hands. Their sound mixes a bit of Tom Petty (more Wildflowers than Full Moon Fever) and the more buoyant tunes of Elvis Costello (minus the spinning wheel.)
After nodding to the other members of the band, the lanky fellow on guitar and vocal duties starts to do a fast picking, reminiscent of Western Swing. Like a strange mix of The Searchers with ‘Ghost riders in the sky’, the song called ‘Our reluctant host’ invites the chosen few in the audience to tap their feet and maybe start to dance to the tune.
The dancing stops for a while, but people keep swaying to the tunes. I fancy asking for a pistachio shake when ‘Three sons’ blasts from the stage; a false memory of wearing a varsity jacket while sitting in a 1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner travels through my head. Easy drives towards the drive, with careful driving near Dead Man’s Curve was the imagery that the sad-but-happy ‘Damage’ conjured.
My attention is fully grabbed with ‘The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’, an old school barn-blasting rocker. The crowd formed dancing couples and a leather jacket and denim skirts dance sequence followed. The whole backyard of Old Malachite’s resembled a dance hall for 3:25 minutes.
Thank God it was a short, as most of the regulars at this place are out of shape that we need a slow-moving ballad. ‘Wicked Words’ is the ‘Earth Angel’ of The Rainy Day Club; memories of long gone days shine like gold beacon shapes in blue backgrounds. ‘The Passenger Seat’ managed to get the more flexible ones in the audience to give “dancing” another go. Me? I just sit back and grab the bourbon, pour myself another shot and think about long drives through the desert of La Huasteca. It’s been so long…
The band definitely lower the speed but not intensity of their tracks until a quiet, introspective track called ‘Like a ghost’ came into existence for less than a minute. They said goodbye and left in a hurry. I keep doing some shots and suddenly I see that Pete has disappeared, a simple note stick under his beer glass. I pick up the note and it reads “Gatsby’s – 8 30 PM”…
Words: Sam J. Valdés López