On Sunday November 21st I found myself smoking a cigarette outside of The Midway Café in Jamaica Plains. It was a cold night, I was with my buddy and bosslady Margaret. We had come out this way to interview a musician, Viva, who had sent our music staff her album Rock and Roll Lover. The album was fun and I was excited to see what my first interview with a real live musician was going to be like.
|Taken from internet. Will post our pic with viva soon!|
We finished our cigarettes and walked into the bar. There we were greeted by a classic New England-type bartender. I promptly headed to the bathroom leaving Margaret with the ridiculously awkward task of trying to explain that we were with a band that hadn’t even arrived yet so that we could interview them. By the time I returned to the bar, Surly Dave (he was surly and he told us that was his name) was grilling Margaret about who we were here with and what we were supposed to be doing. After maybe five minutes of awkwardly tense discussion, it came out that WECB is an Emerson-affiliated program. The change in Surly Dave’s demeanor was instantaneous. He treated us like old friends and his wind-weathered New England face cracked in two with an enormous smile. All in all, he was a great dude and his jokes are worth a million bucks.
We were told that Viva hadn’t arrived yet so a quick analysis of the situation proved that another cigarette should be had. While we were outside, a blonde woman stepped out of a van parked in front of us. Quick deduction on Margaret’s part and a tentative “aaaaare you Viva?” yielded wonderful results and suddenly we were all pals.
Viva herself is a really outgoing lady. It was obvious right off the bat that she was just as excited to be interviewed as we were to interview her. Not wanting to get in her way, Margaret and I headed back inside to wait out the show set up. Soon enough, the show was about to get started.
On the album, Viva is accompanied by a seven-piece band of brass, bass, and drums. However, tonight was to be a special “duo performance” of Viva and her bassist Mary “Freakin” Feaster. They started their set with a rousing performance of “Someone Else,” dedicated to Surly Dave, who had also helped set up the equipment. The energy from the two people onstage was great. For a band with no room to move around in, playing to an audience of maybe four, they were rocking the place. The song sounded great in its stripped down form and Viva’s vocals went miles beyond how she sounds recorded.
People began heading into the bar mainly during the first three songs. Included in those three were “What’s Your Sign, Baby?” a quirky ditty about getting to know someone new, and “Universal Radio,” which Viva dedicated to us. I gotta say, that was a first for me and it felt pretty good. By the time the song had finished, the bar was reasonably full and everyone was digging the band.
The good times continued with a great Bowie cover of “Moonage Daydream,” however their lack of a drummer was starting to prove difficult (Viva later informed us that the drummer had a prior gig that he couldn’t get out of, and props to her for doing the show without him.). Not wanting to lose all the energy she had built up, Viva called out to this kid Joe in the audience. Now Joe looks like a pretty average guy. Couldn’t have been older than 18. But he gave a bored smiled and hopped onto the drum set like he had been playing his whole life. Viva asked if he could do a disco beat and almost before he had said yes, she had started into “Go-Go Boots.” Here, the drums stole the show. How could they not, after seeing this random kid just get onstage. Obviously he was a drummer from one of the other bands playing that night but still, he didn’t know Viva, he was just playing by feeling. It was fucking cool. The song was great, the vibes were great, the crowd was lovin’ it. Now it was Viva’s show again.
The last song of the night was the title track of her album. Once again, Joe sat in on drums and played fantastically. The song was more difficult to play, with calculated stops in the drumming, and Joe pulled it off like a champ. He had purple-haired girls dancing their asses off. Viva was jumping around in the like three inches of space she had, and Mary Feaster was the archetypal bassist, eyes closed into slits, head grooving so hard it might fall off.And like that, it was over. Everyone applauded Joe for his badassery, Viva jumped offstage, and Margaret and I decided it was cigarette o’clock while we waited for things to wind down. (our Q&A with Viva will be posted soon!) -Ben Danger