Given how many concerts we’ve been to lately, and how many of the shows we’ve been to in the last few years have been at small, local venues, it’s surprising that we hadn’t been to the Belly Up Tavern until this past Tuesday. It’s widely regarded as one of the best live music venues in San Diego, and our first visit there did not disappoint. True, the beer selection could have been better (nothing more daring than Stone Pale Ale on draft), but the Soul fries,with bacon and multiple cheeses, were a welcome treat since we had eaten a rushed dinner of PB&J toast before heading up for the show. The interior was relatively big and roomy (compared to say, Lestat’s or the Casbah), with a good sized standing/dancing area in front of the stage, a bar toward the back, and several sections of seating around the periphery, plus a domed ceiling that Chuck guessed may have been an airplane hangar in a previous incarnation.
So what inspired us to finally make a non-Pizza Port trek to Solana Beach? Jeremy Fisher! As established in my Girlyman post, I think the experience of discovering and falling in love with a previously unknown band at a live show is a little bit magical. Sometimes it happens with a familiar artist and new music, too (Hotel ascended to it’s “Best Album Ever” status when we saw Moby at 4thand B, for example), but the thrill of discovering something new and oh-so-good is even more pronounced with new artists, and so it was with Jeremy Fisher. We saw him open for The Weakerthans at the Casbah last November (or October? one of those months); there was another opening act too, that had really fun marketing stickers and who I thought I would love, but really it was Jeremy Fisher who captured my fancy, with all of the usual things that grab me – enthusiasm and energy, – having fun on stage! – great/clever lyrics, singable songs for my morning-commute sing-alongs. I think it was “Scar that never heals” that caught my attention most at the first show, and then I got the”Blue Monday” CD for Christmas and quickly memorized all the songs and came to love the whole CD. We saw Jeremy Fisher again at the Casbah earlier this year with Jason Isbell, who plays smooth Southern Rock reminiscent of 1970′s Eagles and who I also recommend highly, and Will Hoge, whose music was a little more hardcore Rock n’ Roll and not as favored by me. So Tuesday was our third Jeremy Fisher show in about six months; the venue was a bit bigger than the Casbah, and Jeremy and the band responded accordingly, with a faster, more rocking show than the previous times we’ve seen him. Since I love the whole album, I’m always a little disappointed to not hear a favorite song, and I wish he had played Goodbye Blue Monday, but we heard Left Behind live for the first time (i think), and American Girls, which he hadn’t played the previous time, so I was happy.
It’s also worth mentioning that JF was opening for The Proclaimers on Tuesday night. Who, you ask? The guys who performed I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), the song from Benny & Joon! (I heart Benny & Joon too!). Apparently the boys from Scotland are enjoying a bit of a renaissance, having released a new album last year and toured with great success since then. There were multiple people in the audience Tuesday who had been following them along the tour – who knew they were still cranking out the tunes and drawing the crowds? Me, I know now.
Next Jeremy Fisher sighting? Maybe June at House of Blues. Stay Tuned…