Mike Doughty: Hudson Square Music & Wine Festival 21 June 2011

The first day of summer! And I’m at my first outdoor concert of the summer! And it’s in a parking lot and it is going to be hot! But it’s free! And they have great wine!

Hudson Square Music and Wine Festival is a Tuesday night series of free concerts behind City Winery. I got there just as they opened the back and discovered that behind City Winery is a black asphalt parking lot. I managed to snag one of only five tables (high tables with no seats) and waited for rtb to join me. There was a choice of beers and one white and one red wine in addition to peach iced tea and sodas. A food truck (not associated with City Winery) was selling regular and veggie burgers and pulled pork sandwiches.

While I was waiting I could feel a cool breeze and that was nice. I imagine that as the summer wears on, and if you’re standing in the middle of the parking lot, it is going to be very very hot. Also in the back, where the tables are, are also the truck and wine booth. So it’s a little noisy. And everyone hanging out at the tables are talking. Up closer to the stage I’d imagine people were paying attention to the music.

Emily Wells says that she is a violinist who merges hip-hop and classical. I heard the violin. I didn’t hear hip-hop or classical. She loops the violin and then plays a synthesizer and drum. Her voice is very high and child-like and a bit annoying. The music was not as annoying and made me think of Laurie Anderson-lite – probably because of the violin. She ended with what she called a hip-hop version of a familiar song. The song was familiar (“Fever”) but, again, there was nothing hip-hop about it. But it was a good version of a very familiar song.

I didn’t know anything about Mike Doughty, or his former band Soul Coughing, but rtb recommended the show and I listened to a couple of YouTube videos and decided he was worth a shot. I wish I’d been able to give him a better shot – by the time rtb showed up I was itching for a glass of wine (didn’t want to lose the table) so I got a double glass of a really nice Sauvignon Blanc, which went directly to my head. We spent a lot of time talking instead of listening (yes I was one of those annoying people) but whenever I turned my attention to Doughty I really liked what I heard. Before the end of his set we moved closer to the stage and I liked it even more. He opened with “Fort Hood,” which references “Let the Sunshine In” and mentions a parking lot. Also I remember a song called “27 Jennifers” that had me rolling. There was a couple with a baby who clapped at all the appropriate places and s/he was adorable. Doughty is smart and funny and he didn’t bother with a real encore but just announced a fake encore, went over to talk to the cellist, and did the last song. On cello was Andrew Howard “Scrap” Livingston, who was very good when I could hear him. Unfortunately the cello was not mic’d as well as Doughty’s electric guitar.

I’m looking forward to seeing Doughty at a ‘real’ gig.

Afterwards we walked/subwayed over to Otafuku on 9th Street between Second and Third Avenues to have okonomiyaki, which I’d never heard of, and it was delicious. I had squid and rtb had pork and next time I need to try the takoyaki.

By Carene Lydia Lopez