Encore: Lulu’s, Porter-Batiste-Stoltz, And Other Stories

In short: PBS‘s performance Wednesday night was as funky as promised, and opening act On The One was a good match and totally worth catching. And Lulu’s Kitchen is as delicious as ever.

The story in full appears below the break, where I get a little bit wordy because, heck, I had fun.

Lulu's Kitchen is back!
Another great show at the Fox

The space Lulu’s opened in earlier this month, 1124 13th Street, used to be Albums Bistro. Which only goes to show how little I’ve been paying attention, because when I walked in I recognized the space as that …pizza joint? bar? something… in which I indulged in a late-night writing binge during NaNoWriMo 2004. Lulu’s has adopted all things Albums Bistro; any posters or calendars that advertise events there, (events such as the Tuesday evening Bluegrass Pick and illiterate magazine’s poetry readings on Wednesday (and follow the Campus Press link to read about the rest of the week), need only be mentally edited for the venue’s change of name. Also, Albums’s owner runs Lulu’s bar. Between the connection with the record store, the community events, and the change of location, Lulu’s prospects look a lot better.

Which is only as it should be, because, cuisine-wise, there is nothing like Lulu’s in Boulder. Yes, yes, Lucille’s, yes, Redfish, but Lulu’s menu hits a different subset of southern yummy. This is comfort food, “soul food” in an atmosphere resembling a back-door neighborhood visit to that friend whose mother won’t let you out the door again without feeding you. I had the blackened catfish with crawfish cream sauce, which was so good I drank the buttery, winey sauce out the cast-iron platter when the fish was gone (no bread to sop it up, sadly). For side dishes, I chose the “voodoo greens” and the fried okra. The greens tasted like my Dad’s winter garden, a mix of probably Swiss chard and beet (I was told that the exact components change day by day). As for the okra, the chef had allowed it to still be okra–green and firm and textured and full of round seeds and covered in stringy okra goo. I totally approve of this. If you’re going to eat okra, it ought to be because you like okra, not because you’ve disguised it with thick batter and deep fried it to an unrecognizable crisp. Both side dishes came with a garnish of home-made chow-chow, not mustardy like Zatarain‘s lamentably discontinued product but tart and cool, full of pickles and onions and sweet peppers. Chow-chow is something that varies by the kitchen.

Anyway, Lulu’s is very possibly having an Actual Grand Opening roundabouts April Fool’s Day. I’m gonna be out of town when that happens, so you all had better go there for me and show them some lovin’.

So there I am, pleasantly full and topping off dinner with a lovely mug of coffee, when the lights dim and MC Jeremy jumps up on stage to kick off the poetry reading. Remember? Poetry readings at 8:00 on Wednesdays at Albums Bistro Lulu’s. Next thing I know, I’m being handed a blank sheet entitled “Exquisite Corpse” and the first reader is ranting off with an animated poetry slam. Funny how that happens.

And then it was 8:30 and time to head across the street to the show.

On The OneWhen On The One took the stage, there were maybe four people on the floor: me, a photographer, and a couple security staff. Things livened up a bit a few minutes into the set, thanks especially to a couple guys along the wall stage right who were responsible for about 50% of the crowd noise, but an actual crowd never really formed. And that was just too damn bad for everyone who didn’t show, because On The One were crazy good. They consisted of two guitars, a slap-happy bass, a versatile sax, and the craziest mofo to smack the crap out of yer basic percussion set with cowbell and chewed-up cymbal. They could probably be described as A Funk-‘n-Bass Jam Band. Damn fine musicians. The photographer could barely pause her boogyin’ to set up a shot. After their set, as they were picking it up and vacating the stage, someone shouted, “45 minutes is not enough!” I concur.

So now you know. And I expect to see a little more enthusiasm for this highly worthy band when they appear at the Southern Sun Brewery on the 19th and Denver’s Bluebird Theater on the 20th.

Porter and Stoltz rockin' outAnd then, y’know, PBS. What is there to say? They were phenomenal, of course. Stoltz’s guitar struck me as little more country-rock than I had expected, considering that these were three of the the Meters (or, in Stoltz’s case, an ex-Meter). It diversified the mix a bit. With only three guys divvying up the spotlights, there was a lot more soloing and showing off. There were also a few cover songs. To be filed under “Huh! That was unexpected,” you had a faithful but absolutely not slavish performance of Pink Floyd’s “Us And Them” (with three-part harmony; bonus points if you recognized it before they started singing) and a laid-back reggae adaptation of Mr. Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” And of course there had to be a percussion festival wherein On The One’s drummer joined Russell Batiste Jr. on the skins for an ecstatic five minutes or so. Whoo!

Porter and Batiste horsin' aroundThe crowd never got all that much bigger, which made me feel kinda bad for the performers but rather comfy as far as my personal space issues are concerned. Which is to say, no one tried to stick their hand down my pants or shove me away from the stage or thwack my nose bloody. (And, to amend my recent post, I should point out that when the Fox isn’t packed shoulder-to-shoulder, the place feels a lot more friendly.) That was kinda nice, but I have to say, when I turned around at the end of the show, I was appalled at how empty the Fox looked. What is wrong with you people? I totally gave you two days’ notice–where were you?

Well, y’missed a good show, that’s all I can say.

So I got to shake Mr. Porter’s hand and tell him “Love you again, man!” and then go outside and yell “Great show! Dey got da funk!” at others leaving the theater who passed me as I unlocked my bike. (They tended to yell back more of the same.) And as I headed down 13th towards University and Broadway, I glanced in the window at the Market & Deli, and several of the members of On The One were in there having a late-night french fry feast. I waved at them, grinning like a loon. They waved back and thumbs-upped at me. And I sorta just floated the rest of the way home.

What an awesome night. Pardon me, I’m off to order me a CD now. I suggest you do the same.

Two great drummers!

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