We nearly were. Roger and I went out Tuesday night to hear a blues band that he's heard people raving about. They were playing at B B's Lawnside Barbecue. There ain't no lawn though. Just a red brick rectangle in a beaten-down part of town, next to a used car lot. They do have a little wood deck out front for fresh air fiends.
When we pulled up, the parking lot was overflowing. The guy at the door said it was standing room only. I hesitated, unsure I was ready to endure a sea of bodies and a frazzled waitstaff that would be e'er squeezing past me, but too swamped to fetch me a beer. Roger was willing to go to Jardines instead, to see the Beach Nuts, a really good surf and retro Americana band. We had been torn between the two choices anyway. But then I heard a female voice pouring out of B'B's, all gutsy and soulful. And I thought, "Am I gonna pass this up?" Hearing live blues in a dive with an enthusiastic crowd is part of what I signed up for, when I joined this earth ride. So we paid the cover and went inside.
There was barely any place to stand. We were wedged in front of someone's table, blocking their view. I wondered about the fire code. And I was right about not getting any beer.
The band was aptly named Trampled Underfoot, and they were not what you'd expect from a well-reputed blues band that had traveled around Europe and won international competitions. They were young, in their 20's, two brothers and their sister, with the last name of Schnebelen. Both the brothers looked clean cut in a way that seemed incongruous with the gritty groove they were putting down. The drummer could have been a computer store clerk. The guitarist wore a clean white cotton shirt and gel-touseled hair. But these guys played honest-to-goodness blues with no grandstanding. They played like they had studied the greats who had come before them.
Danielle, their sister, played bass and belted out a blues that seemed beyond her years. She seemed unconcerned about anything but the music. She let the long waves of her unkempt hair fall across her face, and either wasn't wearing make-up, or had sweated it all off.
Here's a fun fact about the band: both Danielle and her brother the guitarist play left-handed.
We finally got seats during the break, at one of the long tables covered with red-checked oilcloth. The seating makes the place feel like a noisy indoor picnic, or an uncomfortable family reunion where you don't know a soul. At last I was able to order a Boulevard Pale Ale.
The last song we heard was a metal number, "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin. The band wailed with righteous rock energy, stirring the crowd. One shaggy-haired dude raised his tatooed arm, his hand fisted high in solidarity. After that we left. The moon was up and glowing yellow as we turned and headed west for the state line.