by Willie Clark
For some people Valentine's Day is about candy, hearts, chocolate, and love. For others it can be about pints of ice cream and sitting at home missing something they used to have, or never had at all. Or I guess it could come down to a combination of the two options.
My choice this year was Mexican food and music. City has already told you about the food offerings at La Casa (93 Alexander St.), but the South Wedge Mexican restaurant has started to add live music to the mix as well. For Friday night's Valentine's Day festivities the restaurant brought in self-described street-folk group The Greyhound Bandits.
After opting for a little more room than what was allowed by the initial doorway staging area, the trio (two electric guitars, one acoustic) decided to set up and sit down in a tight booth on the lower floor of the restaurant. The unconventional placement meant that the music was a bit hard to hear over the dining-room murmur, and it was even harder to tell exactly when and where the songs began and the jamming ended.
What resulted was players that looked lost, but not lost in the music. It was as if each musician was having a personal jam session in his head, instead of sharing one as a trio. The music as a whole seemed based more in the improvisational world than anything folk. One guitarist would solo while the other two pattered between chords, not really centering around an apparent theme or any solid idea as a base. I couldn't tell if these were actually pre-planned songs (one, with vocals, I'm guessing must have been) or just repeated chord changes and heads being soloed over until somebody in the group decided it was time for things to end, and for something else to start. Even with just three people, the group didn't seem to be on the same page musically, and the pieces didn't mesh together.
A restaurant gig is obviously going to have different expectations placed on it than on one performed on a stage, in a more traditional venue. And the atmosphere at La Casa was more geared toward background dinner music than anything else. But I don't think this band has yet found its niche, at least not based on what I saw Friday night.