Culture vulture

Trumpets and violins
The day started out weird. While biking my way to work I missed being killed by a red-light-running car by about a tenth of a second. There I was pedaling intently down Cypress Street with plenty of seconds of green light ahead of me when, just as I got to the edge of the intersection, some lady in a nondescript silver sedan went blazing through the intersection going about 40 miles an hour, straight past the red light without the slightest hesitation. One more rotation of the pedals and I would have been directly in her path, being ground to a bloody pulp of broken bones and bicycle spokes, but, as it was, the driver of the car that did stop at the light and I exchanged eyebrow lifted smiles and shaking heads. I guess it just wasn’t my day to die or be horribly maimed. Thank you Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Krishna and the laws of probability.

Cheating death by a hair’s breadth is quite an exhilarating little morning eye-opener. Suddenly the morning air is crisper, the colors of autumn trees brighter and the pulse of life more poignant. Petty annoyances at work are given a gloss of transcendent absurdity that allows one to smile condescendingly at even the most egregious affronts to our aesthetic integrity. “Whatever,” we think, gazing out the window at the road-killed squirrel carcass that’s been being ground into the pavement for the past three days, “At least tonight I get to go see a concert instead of lying on a slab in the morgue.”

I can hear in the distance
So that’s what I did. But first I enjoyed a hot turkey sandwich at Jack’s Family Restaurant, tucking into the mashed potatoes, weird-colored gravy and salt-infused bird flesh like it was ambrosia from Mount Olympus. Then it was down the street to that haven of nocturnal civilization, Duffy’s Tavern, to simmer in the sonic stew cooked up by the amazing Drums and Tuba.

Who, to quote my notes, “Surfaced like a sonic whale rising from the depths of the bar’s ambient noise, propelled by bubbling sonar bleeps and swirls of electronic guitar spindrift echoing off of the wooden hull of the snare drum and windswept cymbals.” Looking around the room I saw a sea of enthralled faces, each transfixed by pure sonic rapture unhampered by lyrical contrivances.

A nearly impossible blend of the free-ranging and totally structured, the music of Drums and Tuba is the quintessence of fearless exploration in the sonic realm, moving from transcendent trippiness to dance floor grittiness in the space of a four count and bringing their audience with them every step of the way.

Chatting with tuba-tooting band leader Brian Wolf after the show, I asked him to sum it all up from his perspective, which he did very succinctly with a smile on his face.

“It kicked," he said.