Last Thursday night I went see to the Ocean Blue play to a sold out crowd at Jammin' Java in Vienna, VA. It was a very pleasant surprise to see the band back together with a brand new album and tour. I never got a chance to witness them live on past tours and didn't buy their new full length "Ultramarine" until I got to the show, trying not to listen to anything new from the band until they played.
I never saw a show at Jammin' Java before and have only been there to get a coffee, and recently drop off some Magic Bullet newspapers. They seemed to have a different set up, with more of an emphasis on concerts (I swear they once had a tiny stage at the right-hand side of the venue), with a capacity of what I believe to be 200 now, the stage set up at the back. I can't tell you just how good it was to see a show where there was ample, easy parking, without the supreme hassle of driving through the city. I've pretty much sworn off seeing concerts in DC on weeknights mainly 'cause my job can be mentally and physically demanding enough, and the thought of dealing with urban evening traffic just don't cut it for me anymore. Thankfully, Jamin' Java was a thoroughly pleasant concert-going experience, and a relatively short and simple drive. Also, being this was the Ocean Blue playing, and it was on a Thursday night, I could handle it, no problem.
I arrived at the venue about an hour before opening act, Don Peris, guitarist for another long-standing Pennsylvania dream pop band, The Innocence Mission hit the stage. He warmed up the crowd with a beautiful set of gentle, guitar-based instrumentals at times reminiscent of Daniel Lanois, and even Doug McCombs from Tortoise. I regret not buying one of his CDs as well Thursday night, so soon I'll have to order his new one titled "The Old Century".
Though there weren't too many people present yet, as Don played, I remained standing up front where I had been for quite a while at this point. At this point, I also wished I had been sitting, after standing and walking around on a hard floor all week, but the only place available for that was the fairly pricey VIP area. Thankfully, The Ocean Blue didn't take too long to hit the stage, and once they began to play, all thoughts of pain dissolved. The band was so incredibly good, it was hard to believe these guys had been around since 1989, yet at the same time it made perfect sense. The new songs melded so well with their classics, which many times doesn't happen when a band takes a long hiatus and make a new album. I think "Ultramarine" has taken fans by surprise, it's so good. Some reviewers have even declared it to be their best, and upon first listen while driving home from the show, I'd have to agree with them 100%. In fact, Ultramarine is a crucial release for 2013.
One can only hope The Ocean Blue will expand their mini-tour and come back this way again soon, hopefully to Jamin' Java again. It's been a while since I've been to a concert so good that it makes one feel great to be alive. Coming down from this show by the time I returned home at midnight was by no means an easy task. Thankfully the weekend was right around the corner. Below are a couple of samples of songs from "Ultramarine" for your ears to enjoy. Let's hope more folks start to recognize the monolithic tower of awesome this band (and album) truly is.
In the meantime, I got a cool package in the mail from my pal Dave Modler, which included a sketchbook for a collaborative project he was telling me about recently. Work, as well as another art-based project have been consuming most of my time and energy lately, but things will be settling down (at least with the work part) in about a week, allowing me to tackle this collab more in depth. I even dragged Kris into it as well, which is good 'cause she's been getting her artist mojo back quite a lot lately. Looking forward to this!
Meanwhile, if you're in or around the Leesburg, VA area, King Street Coffee is hosting the photographic work of our friend James Martin, up until the end of May. Kris and I have had James do some shoots for us in the past, and he's really come a long way with his passion for photography! His wife Tiffany, who is a truly great yoga instructor, has also been getting her art on as well, with a new line of t-shirts under the name Buddha Cat. Kris and I got shirts from her and we love 'em. Hopefully James and Tiffany will have some work for sale online in the not-too-distant future.
As for the other art-related project I've been working on, I can't say too much more than it has to do with a book to be released fairly soon, and that the subject matter pertains to endangered sea life, told in a comic-book/graphic novel style. Below is a sneak peek at some very early stage pages. So far so good.