Last night I had a smile painted on my face comparable only to the day I held a lion cub a few years ago. Chances were good as we set off for the theatre that this would happen – I remember a similar glee when I saw the same band, or “little orchestra”, the one known as Pink Martini, the last time they were in town.
It wasn’t the same though; the fairy dust flying through the air last night was filled with extra sparkle and light. I knew when it ended I’d want to say something that would likely result in a lengthy Facebook post, mainly because I’d want to paint a picture of the moment, and encourage you to experience the music the way we did. Then I popped myself on the forehead and realized I have this more perfect place to make my chatter.
By now I’ve sold myself as being mainly about bluesy or British rock, which is certainly partially true. It’s the music that’s my “daily drinker” if you will. But my background, having grown up with music, and as a student of classical music, is much more varied and complex. This coupled with a world culture obsession, means I’m passionate about much more than say the Black Keys.
Pink Martini, if you aren’t familiar, encapsulates many of these world sounds, especially the sultry heat and rhythm of Cuban and Spanish music. Bandleader Thomas Lauderdale’s vision is clear and their talent is massive but really, I don’t want to recreate their Wikipedia page here – I’ll leave you to read their back story as you see fit.
What I do want to tell you about is their new collaboration with The von Trapps, the great grandchildren of Captain and Maria von Trapp, all four siblings and the grandchildren of Werner (Kurt, the incorrigible) von Trapp. And I know you know of whom I speak.
I approached the show last night with nothing preconceived about these von Trapps who’d chosen to carry on a rich family legacy with a significantly high bar. Early into the show they joined Thomas, China and the rest of Pink Martini to introduce us to their sound, rooted in the heart-achingly sweet sounds of Austrian folk music – taught to them by their grandfather – and amped with the sophisticated, powerful, Pink Martini layer. But the first ecstatic, life-in-the-moment moment was the instrumental, Flying Squirrel, leading into intermission, when Lauderdale invited audience members to dance on the stage. I was fourth to join that party and I honestly thought my face was going to crack from sheer joy while dancing the Charleston between August von Trapp and Timothy Nishimoto for a solid ten minutes. It was just exhilarating to the point that I required a splash of bourbon during the break to, well, do what we do with a good splash of Woodford here in the South.
The second half of the show was just as delightful, filled with Pink Martini standards, songs from the new album, Get Happy, and a mash-up of sorts of the title track, Dream a Little Dream and Debussy’s Clair de Lune – one of my favorite classical pieces. August von Trapp wrote several original songs himself and especially in his solo moments you can clearly hear the “lovechild of Simon and Garfunkel” description offered by China Forbes in his introduction.
Over and over this band of artists gave us every penny and more of our ticket cost. However, the cherry on that high mountain was offered in the encore with a perfect recount of The Lonely Goatherd. It’s a good thing because (despite the simultaneous smile and tears) I wasn’t going home without it.