Sunday, June 2, 2013

Veronneau - at the Vienna Town Green Stage

Ken Avis - Lynn Veronneau - Peter Walby - David Rosenblatt      -   Veronneau

31 May 2013

      You know me. I don't often write about a Jazz act. I'll go out and see a Jazz act maybe once in a blue moon. Not that I don't like Jazz, I do. But I'm selective in my Jazz likes and dislikes. The joy of being entertained by any good musician is if that musician can transport you back to a good time and place you remember vividly, or maybe the times weren't so good, but you remember those times anyway as part of the human experience. And it's the music you're hearing that's helping you in the process. 1963 and I'm in Hong Kong sharing Grog Ration aboard a Brit Navy ship. A bunch of us American Sailors and Marines had been invited aboard. I remember a record-player and the Brits had some Beatles Records. It was the first time I had heard them or worse yet, seen them. When we Americans saw their picture all we could say was "What the Hell is This?" We all laughed like it was some kind of joke. But we knew the music wasn't a joke. Around about this same time, back in the U.S. another phenomenon was taking place and it would soon be known  internationally as "Bossa Nova."  Spurred on by a movie called "Black Orpheus" (1959) the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa hit international store shelves. Seems like everyone was listening to Charlie Byrd, Stan Getz, and Astrud Gilberto as they all produced their own versions of  Jobim's music. Record sales hit the roof, and after a long run the engine ran out and a fickle public turned to the next wave in popular music. But I remember all this after I returned to the U.S. in 1964.
      Six months later I would be in Viet Nam. We had an old portable stereo set (remember those?) I'd picked up in Okinawa. We had three long-play records. Just three. That's all we could carry. One was Charlie Byrd, the other two were The Rolling Stones and Joan Baez. We wore them out or else they were destroyed by the heat, dust, and humidity. The reason I'm telling you all this is because this is what I'm thinking about on the night of 31 May as I'm being transported back in time by Veronneau. I'm not in the Far East or dating my future wife again. I'm in Vienna, Virginia at the public entertainment space known as the Town Green. But as I'm listening to Veronneau, hearing the Brazilian sounds again, and looking at my wife and smiling,  I'm looking around me at couples my age doing the same thing. The beauty of tonight is seeing the younger couples maybe getting their first taste of this style of music and seeing them enjoy it too.
      I first ran into Veronneau by way of Reverbnation and a notice someone sent me on Facebook. I took a listen and then went on to Youtube to do some further investigating. The notices they had been receiving locally were for real. No hype. Based in Arlington, they were gathering some impressive notices. When I heard the stuff I was shocked to put it mildly - thrown back to remembering all those great Jobim hits. I was anxious to meet them on the live level. I put them on my wish-list of acts I had hoped to see one day. My wish was granted on 31 May, right here in my own "Vienna back yard."  Veronneau is Lynn Veronneau, vocals, Ken Avis, guitar, David Rosenblatt, guitar, and on drums, Peter Walby. The configuration is simple and on a shoe-string, but vital to the style of the samba-flavored music and Lynn Veronneau's silky, quiet, delivery. Adding more instruments or gimmicks would just muddle the beauty of the musical source. As Lynn said at one point in the performance, "What a beautiful, warm summer night for this kind of music!"  She was right. She was perfect. I saw a few people dozing in their lawn chairs. Not out of boredom, but because the music was just so perfectly soothing on a warm, summer night. They ended with a lively and unique rendition of the much over-worked "Brazil," but it was the perfect ending anthem for a very entertaining evening. Veronneau gathers its music from a lot of international sources. I detected a little influence from Pink Martini (Don't know that group? You should!) A lot of Jazz musicians play Bossa Nova/Samba standards, but Veronneau has the strength to stand on its own and they owe their allegiance to no one.

Lynn Veronneau and David Rosenblatt   e-mail:

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