For years, I'd dreamed of having a band in the rotation at Sambuca in Deep Ellum. I had submitted a tape of my mid '90's combo to their booking guy to no avail (but looking back, that group really wasn't ready). I'd been going there off and on for around nine years, and last night, about three weeks before they relocate and alter their format, I did in fact get to hit the stage...and Halfling was up there with me.
I mentioned a while back, in my Say It Ain't So! post, that Sambuca has been the recent home of a jam session led by my old college buddy Shelley Carrol, a wonderful tenor player who's played in both the One O'Clock and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. I also noted that the Deep Ellum outlet is about to move to a "friendlier" location in Uptown (yay) but change its music format away from all-jazz (boo). This move was supposed to happen sometime this month. The plan had always been to go to Shelley's jam on Monday night of spring break (last night), provided it was still going on.
The evidence during the day didn't look good: there was no Deep Ellum online music calendar for March (yet there was one for Addison, so it wasn't a matter of the site not being updated), and repeated phone calls to the Ellum number yielded nothing more than a constant busy signal. We figured they'd already closed the location, so other plans were made. But on the way home from teaching at the store, I called the number again just to be sure. Surprisingly, a guy answered; they were in fact open, but their move had been delayed a week, which is why the online calendar hadn't been published. Plans were changed, and Halfling and I were on our way.
Deep Ellum on a Monday night is always pretty dead, and this night was even more so than usual (no scary goths, and only one homeless guy...and he was on the way home, closer to actual downtown than to Ellum). Parking was so plentiful that we even got one of the free spaces right alongside the restaurant. Shelley was his usual awesome self, the food was great and plentiful (even if my favorite dish--the "tri-colored tortellini"--was no longer on the menu), and the chocolate cheesecake ruled as always. It was a loose night, with lots of guests; they even had this one tune where almost everyone was on some sort of secondary instrument: Shelley played clarinet, the drummer played piano and the pianist sang and scatted (interesting in itself, since I think his first language is Japanese).
Finally it was our turn. You get to pick your tune at this session, so Halfling and I picked "Recorda-Me" since it's a Combo PM staple. The stage was barely big enough for two horn players; I was hoping that Shelley would join us at the end and school us both, but he let us be the stars for that tune.
I also decided that we needed some sort of a memento, some proof that we were there. A tenor student of Shelley's was there with his dad, and the dad was eagerly snapping pictures whenever his son played. During the piano solo, I went over and asked the dad if he could take a picture of me and Halfling up there and email it to me. He did, so here we are:
(I had to learn a bit of new code to keep this picture from coming out Dingus-sized on this site for some reason...but hey, it's the first picture ever on this blog. There'll be more now.)
We were the last "official" tune of the evening, though they did have a little version of "Mood Indigo" which started out as a duet between Shelley (on clarinet) and the pianist, though eventually the drummer played some bass and Shelley played some drums. Wild...
So all in all, it was a great night: I got to spend a moment on the stage where I'd watched others so many times, and Halfling got his first taste of a real-world jam. By the summertime, we're hoping to hit the every-third-Friday jam at the South Dallas Cultural Center, where we both may well get schooled (since Shelley and Marchel Ivery have been known to show up)...but it'll be awesome.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Don't let 'em kill your spirit up there. I mean, they will, but then you'll get back on your feet and keep moving ahead, ya know?"--Shelley, to Halfling, regarding UNT.