For a self proclaimed journal blogger, I let a lot go under the bridge undocumented. This week was particularly memorable however as we saw Billy Bragg at the Birchmere: a shared table, dinner club type of venue just outside Washington DC. We've seen many favorites there over the last 25 years.... Steeleye, Fairport, String Band, Cowboy Junkies, Bruce Cockburn, Livingston Taylor.... you get the picture.
Vegas.... are we having fun yet?
Anyway.... I picked him up at the airport, he recovered a little and then we hit the rush hour beltway traffic. It wasn't ideal timing but it was worth the effort. Quite a considerable cultural contrast, straight from the extraordinary glitziness of Vegas to the down to earthness of a Billy Bragg concert.... part overt Socialist political rally as we sing about Power of the Unions backed by the "anti Fascist rhythm section", part stand up comedy act as he is very funny, part tear jerker as he still throws in the occasional poignant love song just to throw you off guard. He didn't seem to have changed much since the "80s when we last saw him in Leeds. A bit older, (he mentioned his full beard "hiding a multitude of chins")
You'd think the audience for a Billy Bragg concert would be pretty self selecting but it turned out the young couple we were sitting with were both Republicans. "I just don't agree with that" said the mild mannered, beautiful Stephanie, a Capitol Hill lobbyist from Alabama, when he talked about the British National Health System and the inability of the rest of the world to understand America's reluctance to provide universal health care for its citizens.
Proof, possibly, of the incendiary effect of such an unusually (for here) left wing tone to the evening was a little skirmish at a table near us of the "F... you" "No, F.... YOU" variety. That sort of thing just never happens normally.
This concert was one of those times I feel as if a neurosurgeon has stuck a probe into my brain and touched a little area that stimulates my Britishness as if to remind me it's my "real self". The rest of the time I feel like an American with a British accent.
After the show we joined the line for the meet and greet. We told Billy Bragg the first time we left our daughter with a babysitter was to see him in concert. She's 30 now. You can see that we were a lot more excited than he was, but he couldn't have been nicer.
The patient smile of a seasoned after show hand shaker.
On the way home David accidentally crossed a bridge into the city. It's easily done, especially when you're jet lagged..... one false move and there's no way out of the situation, you've just got to add another 15 minutes onto your ETA back home. I snapped this picture of the Lincoln Memorial out of the car window to take my mind off it, in the interest of maintaining marital harmony.