Had a nice talk last night with Josh Ritter & co. (who put on a pretty sweet show at the Triple Door, check out his music) about the Birchmere, one of my all time favorite venues ever in life. It's comforting to hear about such treasured little Virginia places all the way out here – there's a whole community of touring musicians who know them in completely different way than how i grew up as an audience member. But wow, how many memorable nights there – Robbie Schaefer, Howie Day, Dar Williams, and the Pat McGee Band back in the days of Al Walsh, who turned out to be quite the heart of that band, as made obvious from his departure and the subsequent blah-ness that descended back in 2000. And oh, the excursions on 395, and oh, hanging in the parking lot, and oh, waiting in the bar afterwards to meet the artists. Oh, those teenage years. Next time I'm there I'll be on stage.
I used to talk about wanting to open up my own little venue like the Birchmere. I still could go for that. There's a lot to be said for a music venue that seats people at tables, serves them food, and keeps the bar in a different room. It attracts a whole different crowd, and let me tell ya, sometimes it's refreshing. I think the Triple Door is the closest cousin that Seattle has, though it's a much flashier incarnation.
I would never in a million years criticize Seattle's choice of music venues, because they are so intimate and so plentiful. The DC/Seattle comparison is no contest. But still, the Birchmere is special and I'm glad to have bumped into its ghost all the way out here.