Culture vulture

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day
It’s far too seldom that Culture Vulture ventures down to Fulcrum Records to enjoy the vast variety of musical entertainments staged, or more accurately floored, by the charming and enterprising Miss Renee and her cohorts Tony and Teresa in the large-living-room-sized performance space at the back of her store. But far too seldom is infinitely superior to never at all, when it comes to encounters with musical joy or artistic delight, and sometimes a choice made for one reason leads to unexpected revelations.

Take for example our Monday night expedition from the cozy, air-conditioned confines of Culture Vulture World Headquarters to the aforementioned Fulcrum Records to catch a set by our musical pals Barbara Manning, Tom Little and Dusty Evans, aka The Fiberglass Jacket. That’s really all we had in mind. But simple plans, if all goes well, often deliver more than we anticipate. The fact that the store was empty when we arrived (despite the calendar info in two weekly papers claiming the show would start at 8 p.m.) provided a perfect excuse to mutate our plan to include a side trip to the Towne Lounge, where a slowly savored Pale Ale accompanied by a soundtrack of jukebox music and pool table conversation proved just the thing to while away a pleasant 45 minutes before returning for a follow-up check on the Fulcrum scene.

Which, as expected, was just getting assembled and prepared for take-off at 9 p.m., and again, despite two papers stating a $3 cover, the actual price at the door was $5, at least for old fogies with no tattoos. But hey, running an air conditioner ain’t cheap, and five bucks is still a bargain for the privilege of seeing Barbara and band with a good PA in a cool small venue. The new songs, three of which were recorded with the Go-Luckys! and recently issued as a CD single, are well worth seeking out by anyone who appreciates well-crafted songs with intelligent, emotionally honest lyrics and strong, straightforward indie-pop musicianship. Which The Fiberglass Jacket delivered in spades with the added fillip of a few Tom Little guitar solos to spice up the mix.

The bonus of the evening was the music of brothers Jack and Jeffrey Lewis. Jack warmed us up for the Jackets’ set with a few songs performed solo on bass guitar with mini-keyboard rhythm tracks. Clever, stoney lyrics and nimble bass work won over the crowd in short order.

After the satisfyingly rocking Fiberglass Jacket set I was preparing to sneak home but decided to stick around to catch a bit of headliner Jeffrey Lewis’s set, and boy was I glad I did. Lewis, backed by brother Jack on bass, has a humble, lovable stage presence that perfectly complements his personable and entertainingly ingenious songs, some of which are accompanied by his “low-budget videos” —actually artist’s sketch pads filled with beautifully crafted comic art that illustrates the lyrics of such songs as “The History of Communism, Part I,” “Champion Jim” (which would make a great kids’ book) and “The History of Rough Trade Records.”

All in all a brilliant, unique and memorable night out.

This column is dedicated to Dustin and Lily, two great kids who know that dancing is more fun than sitting down or standing still and aren’t afraid to show it.