I am thankful for Sex. I am thankful for Tequila. I am thankful for Greg Ashley and Pang at the Night Light. ‘Twas the day after turkey. Holidays are depressing. We binge on food and alcohol like savages. We push everyone out of our way to save $19.99 on the latest toxic gizmo. We chop down trees and stick them in our “living” room to rot. We make resolutions to not make the same mistakes again next year.
But then you walk into The Night Light in Jack London Square! The bar is warm and cozy and you can drink yourself happy. Although booze has been flowing for a year or so, it is only recently that live music has become a regular fixture upstairs. The room is intimate and they got another bar up there to reduce the risk of falling down the stairs with your fifth cocktail. Oakland is in the midst of a venue explosion. There are a dozen new bars and several host live music. This might just be my pick of the litter. For this Thanksgiving Friday they certainly brought the goods.
The show opened with PANG a new, local grrrrrl quartet. The guitarist kicks ass and the keyboard adds that little Stereolab-something so underutilized by our gritty garage scene. I anticipate many nights with Pang, and like Tequila, I do believe they will age well. Check out “Attention Deficit” on Bandcamp, like them on facebook, and see them whenever possible!
I hesitate to say more great things about Greg Ashley — perhaps I’ve said it all before. Tough shit. It has been five months since I have given praise and here it comes. The man continues to plod along in this vast musical wasteland, reinventing his old material, recording new, collaborating, paying tribute and seeking fresh inspiration, all while he sips his red wine.
This year has been a big one for our hero. He has played at least twice doing the Leonard Cohen/Phil Spector freak masterpiece Death of a Ladies Man, once at the Hotel Utah, and once at Big Sur’s heavenly Henry Miller Library. Both I managed to miss… (If your listening Greg, please play that record one more time!) His collaboration with Dreamdate‘s Yea-Ming continues with touching harmonies and hope for more. He recently did a soundtrack with John Morgan (of John Brothers Piano Company) for the short film, The Perfect Hello. The film’s debut occurred where else but Oakland’s Ghost Town Gallery and the evening featured a solo acoustic set from Greg plus a John Brothers blowout with full band.
Brian Glaze’s drum work is perfectly sedated alongside the wild guitar and well-thumped bass. The set was appropriately heavy on Painted Garden tracks, including a fantastic “Sailing with Bobby.” Country music is creeping in more and more, both in his own songs and with the new addition of a Waylon Jennings cover. Greg closed with the searing Gris Gris tune “Necessary Separation.” Of note, the Ghost Town performance included the rarely played Gris Gris classic “Medication #4” that just so happens to be my kid’s favorite. Perhaps some kinda Gris Gris show is in our future?
Sadly, I missed Andy Human. My designated driver designated my ass to the back seat. Mr. Human played with the Cuts and Lenz. His latest record Freeze features Sam and Frank from Warm Soda and Brett from Lenz. Buy it now on Chromewaves Radio.
While we’re at it, have a little more thankfulness! RIP Alex.