3 September 2012

Chitlins and gravy

Party gravy is just a winning name (even if I don’t know what chitlins are). So was the band. Rough at times, but alive and infectious with funereal joy.
Funereal joy? As in New Orleans, with musicians accompanying coffins and the sombre turning to merriment. It’s not as strange as it sounds, of course. Wakes have a way of releasing you from the mundane and renewing bonds and often end in a charming mix of joy and melacholy, and often too much grog. Party gravy may have been playing the New Orleans funeral standards but this was for a modern Australian audience that wouldn’t know such funerals other than mythically. This was Fathers day and there were lots of little kids and the place was busy with swing dancers and drawn beers. Bite to Eat Café is a lively and friendly place that appeals to all ages with its ‘50s laminex demeanor and cosmopolitan vivacity. I only caught the second set, but one hour made my day. This was a place of generous and indiscriminate smiles, as a social venue should be, and the band provided the perfect ambience. Set two, first tune, was the classic Just a closer walk with thee; second tune, Down by the riverside. Then a medley of modern tunes funked up in marching band style: Pumped up kicks / Foster People, Boulevard of broken dreams / Green Day and Mad world / Tears for Fears>REM. Then an original, written just days before, called The Kraken. One more, then Feel like funking it up. By this time, the dancing kids had left the aisles and the adults were at it. Then it wound down and we were off to a quieter night, but joyous and enlivened.

I should just mention one touch of seriousness. I’m not one for the militarisation of the public which has been happening over recent years, but I do feel the loss of one of three soldiers in Afghanistan in recent days. He was from Canberra and was just a year ahead of one of my kids at school. My best wishes to his family. Like any funeral, this, too, had its solemn side. Good on the band for dedicating Closer walk to him. Party Gravy is a New Orleans-style Brass Band comprising Tom Sly and Ax Long (trumpet), Andrew Kimber (alto sax), Tye Langford (baritone sax), Josh Hart and Patrick Langdon (trombone), Sam McNair and Mark Slegers (drums) and Alec Coulson (bass).

PS: Now I know. Chitlins is an abbreviated form for chitterlings: chit•ter•lings [chit-linz, -lingz] noun ( used with a singular or plural verb ) the small intestine of swine, especially when prepared as food. ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chitterlings , viewed 3 Sep 2012).

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