Our Year of Live Music: Smoked Out

Well, I tried.

Friday night I left work, picked up Ian and drove home so we could change before heading out to Mellow Mushroom to eat and watch some of the Olympic opening ceremonies. After that, our plan was to go with another friend to see Rhythm Kitchen, a local band fronted by one our favorite Mellow Mushroom bartenders, play at a local cigar bar called Liquid Smoke.

I knew that it was going to be smoky since it’s a cigar bar and I’m not a total idiot. What I did not anticipate was their complete lack of give-a-shit with regard to their customers’ ability to breathe.

There was only one functioning fan in the place, and as soon as we walked in I felt my lungs close up shop and hang a sign out front that read “No cancer for us, thanks.”

We stayed for the last couple songs from the band before Rhythm Kitchen, but I had to go outside to get some fresh air. When I came back in, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay much longer. Rhythm Kitchen came on and they were good—I mean, really, really good—but I started to feel like I was going to throw up from all of the smoke. Thick, heavy, sweet smoke swirling together above me from cigar after cigar, plus a few cigarettes mixed in. I didn’t even see that many people smoking while we were in there; it was like all of the smoke that had ever been created in the bar had never dissipated. It hung there all around us like a smoky blanket, just waiting to be breathed.

I started to feel light-headed, and to the chagrin of my companions I had to get out of there. So we did.

Skylar’s voice is amazing and I would love to catch the band again—but no more Liquid Smoke. That is, unless they invest in some sort of ventilation system that involves more than one wobbly ceiling fan and a prayer to Bernardino of Siena, the patron saint of lungs.

Our Year of Live Music: Lightning 100 show and Fiona Apple

I’m late here, but I wanted to make note of a couple more shows Ian and I saw recently, again as part of our Year of Live Music.

On July 3, we met up at the Flying Saucer for a few drinks and then walked down to Tin Roof to catch the Lightning 100 Independence Rocks concert.

We mainly wanted to go to see Moon Taxi, who we first saw at Bonnaroo. We got there in time to hear the end of Elenowen (and maybe some of Humming House, I’m not sure), and I stocked up on soft t-shirts. I was really hoping to get an Apache Relay shirt, but they were nowhere to be found. I asked another vendor and was told they would be out shortly, but when I returned about 15 minutes later I was told they had already displayed and then removed all of their merchandise. Dicks.

Anyway, Apache Relay was great, and Moon Taxi was amazing. They are a million times better live than they are on their album. I felt like I was listening to a totally different band.

A couple weeks later, on Friday the 13th, I met up with a group of girlfriends for drinks at Rosepepper before heading to The Ryman to watch Fiona Apple. It was a bit difficult to get tickets for four people together so I was afraid our seats would be crappy, but believe it or not, far right of the stage was actually pretty decent. Plus, her piano was facing us so we could see her crazy face-making and writhing-dancing antics all night long.

My high school and college selves were pleased, and I actually think it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen at The Ryman. Possibly the best.

The Year of Live Music hit a hurdle today when I was unable to purchase decent seats for Ben Folds Five at The Ryman, but I’m content in having seen them at Bonnaroo. (No way was I going to shell out $120-$140 to sit under the balcony or so far to the left I could only see half of the performance.)

However, the quest continues tonight as we head to Liquid Smoke to see a band fronted by one of our favorite bartenders at Mellow Mushroom. Hooray for local talent… and beer.

An expensive bar tab

Last Friday, after a particularly long week, Ian and I went to the Mellow Mushroom in Murfreesboro after work for a bite to eat and some beers. We left around 10 p.m., and as we were getting into the car we heard frantic mewing. At first we thought the sound was coming from the bed of a nearby truck, but upon further investigation we discovered a teeny tiny black kitten racing around the parking lot, under various cars and through the grass.

He was nervous and scared of us at first, and as we tried to get him to come to us he would creep in and then dart away light lightning. A guy came by with a bagel from Starbucks and threw chunks at the kitten, but gave up rather quickly saying he already had too many cats at home to deal with another. You’d think he’d have learned by now that cats don’t eat bagels, especially when they’re thrown at them, but whatever.

Ian sat in the middle of the parking lot calling to the kitten while I directed traffic away from us, and eventually the kitten crept in and let us pet him. We decided he was too cute to just leave out there, and we could tell he was hungry by the loud, continual mewing and refusal to run away completely, so I went inside and asked Courtney, the bartender that night, for a cardboard box to take him home in. She brought me one that was perfect for kitten transport—it had plenty of holes that were just the right size for him to get air but not escape—and I took it outside to capture the little guy.

As I made my way back to where Ian was sitting, still in the middle of the parking lot, I noticed that he had finally won the kitten over. There it was, laying on its back, belly to the sky, getting scratched under the chin.

This was the point I began to worry that we might be inviting a fifth cat to live in our house.

Uh, we found this guy outside Mellow Mushroom and someone decided we should take him home.

We managed to get him into the box with little trouble, and he didn’t make a peep the whole ride home. We knew that we couldn’t let the other cats know what the hell we were bringing into the house, so as soon as we got in the door Ian rushed upstairs to get the kitten settled in his bathroom upstairs. I got together a bowl of food, some water, two towels, a litterbox and a couple of cat toys for him, and we locked ourselves in the bathroom to see how he was doing. Not knowing what his health status was, we didn’t want to risk him giving any diseases to our other cats, so he was going to have to spend the night in the bathroom. I felt sorry for him, but I knew it was still better than the Mellow Mushroom parking lot.

I put the food and water in the box where he was still sitting, and he ate voraciously. Like he hadn’t eaten in days. When he got up the nerve to jump out of the box I moved his food out, too, and he ate some more. He let Ian and I hold him on our laps, and once he realized we were pretty OK people, he started purring like a lawnmower. Holy crap, that kitten has some pipes on him.

The next morning we took him across the street to our vet, where we learned that he was in perfect health. He was in fact a he, and was about 10 weeks old. He tested negative for feline AIDS and leukemia, as well as intestinal parasites and fleas. The vet guessed that he most was dumped in a populated area by someone who didn’t want him, and quelled our fears of having stolen someone’s missing kitten. (We checked to see if he was micro-chipped and he was not.)

A couple hundred dollars later, we were sent home with an adorable, healthy kitten who we really couldn’t keep but were growing more attached to by the minute.

As soon as we got him home the night before, though, I had tweeted and Facebooked a picture of him, trying to find him a home. I tweeted again that morning, and as we were sitting in the vet’s office waiting on his test results, I got a message from a friend saying her sister was interested in adopting him. Overjoyed, I exchanged numbers with her and by the time I got home I had a voicemail from her sister. I called her back, and we set up a time to meet so she could take the kitten home.

Later that afternoon we met up halfway between Murfreesboro and Spring Hill and just like that, the stray kitten found in the Mellow Mushroom parking lot had himself a new home with a lovely lady and her other cat, both of whom I’m sure will give him lots of love and attention.

Yay, found this sweet guy a good home!

I’m still amazed that it all worked out like it did. I can’t think of how many times I’ve tried to help friends adopt out a stray they’ve found but there were no takers. I was sure that we were going to have to call a bunch of no-kill shelters in Nashville and beg and plead them to take this sweet kitten from us, but somehow it was the right place and the right time and it all worked out.

I did bond with him a bit, but I’ll admit I’m relieved we didn’t end up taking him in. Four cats is a lot, and at times I feel like I’m drowning in cat hair and litter. Don’t get me wrong, I love our cats (well, three of them at least—we won’t talk about Evil Twin), but I don’t even want to think about trying to assimilate a fifth one into our crazy household.