Monday Feb 4, 2019 – It was the most boring Big Game in history, even if you were a fan of either of the teams. And after spending an evening in front of the television watching Tom Brady, listening to Tony Romo, and witnessing whatever that was at halftime, our reward is Monday. Pack away all the NFL gear, get used to all your rowdy friends NOT coming over tonight, and face the dawning of another work week.
Debbie and Bill at Froggie’s saw this coming and had a special evening to take the doom out of the gloom: Bluegrass Night on Shore Drive. Featuring local favorites Pair-O-Docs.
Bluegrass holds a special charm for me, mostly because it is one of the few genres of music upon which Mrs. JGR and I agree. She grew up in the hills of East Tennessee so to her, this is the music of her youth, recalling warm summer evenings around a campfire by a lake. Most certainly there was a mason jar involved in this somehow or other……
But I digress.
Pair-O-Docs is a local (Pungo) bluegrass group that features……..get ready for this…..a pair of doctors. The medical kind. And that is important to the story because this is music for the sake of music. For the sake of enjoyment. For the sake of making music with friends to be listened to and enjoyed by friends. Froggie’s uses the hashtag #MusicsHomeCourt and tonight it rung that bell in spades for the room was packed, everybody there knew at least one of the people on the stage. Or was a friend of one of the people that knew someone on the stage. Or was a friend of a patient of one of the doctors on the stage (you get the idea). I can’t 100% confirm but it is entirely possible that they all attend the same church as well because they brought a bus full of people to Froggie’s. If true, this is most certainly the most (however churches are ranked from highest to lowest) church in Tidewater.
Let’s talk about the music. Authentic traditional Bluegrass. The fiddle parts, though…..long phrases painting a perfect lyrical haunting Eastern European flair over the rhythmic underlying cadence of guitar, bass, banjo, and hammered dulcimer. Contrary to the halftime proceedings of the night before, Dr. Dulcimer chose to leave his shirt on and actually play the instrument in front of him. Which is no easy feat, hammered dulcimer is more of a way of life than a hobby. Look at the thing the wrong way and it will probably go out of tune (it didn’t this night).
The setlist included some standards such as Rocky Top and I’ll Fly Away as well as some ambitious selections not generally associated with Bluegrass, such as Me and Bobby McGee…..on banjo no less. As I write this, my toe is still tapping in time to the beat. If you sit still to Bluegrass, if that inner rhythm machine is not doing something (on one and three) you were probably rooting for the Patriots on Sunday. Or just really have no soul at all.
Although Pair-O-Docs has played (and if fact, opened) a bigger stage here in Virginia Beach, I think that a venue like Froggie’s is a perfect setting to see them. With its intimate stage in the music room, with its cast of regulars along the bar, with the way the first timers are welcomed into the fold, with the dancers that adorn the floor (but also give me a wide berth to shoot the musicians on the stage), Music’s Home Court is the perfect host for Pair-O-Docs. Maybe it sounds cliche but at Froggie’s, the audience is an integral part of the performance, the energy from the crowd feeds the musicians on the stage, the energy from the musicians on the stage feeds the crowd. All with no cover charge. Froggie’s has been nominated as Venue of the Year in its size class, an honor of which they are truly deserving.
At the close of the night as the band was packing up, the tabs were being paid, and we were all finding our way back home, I crossed paths with a couple of young ladies in the parking lot, one of whom is to soon begin her 80th journey around the sun. We talked, we laughed, we told stories. As I was getting settled into the Fit and adjusting the volume of ‘Something I Was Not’ (adjusting upward), the entire point of the evening came into sharp focus: Music for the sake of entertainment, unity, and joy. The things that make us alike are greater than the things that make us apart. Pair-O-Docs, thanks for providing the soundtrack.