Monday, October 10, 2005

Café Campagne and Richard Thompson

My friend John flew up from Walnut Creek to see Richard Thompson at Benaroya (Nordstrom Hall, the small one). We were joined by John's friend Lynn. Sadly, our babysitting plans fell through at the last minute, so Debbie graciously offered to stay home with the kids.

We went to Café Campagne for dinner, because I knew it was the type of place that John would like. I can't figure out why it's not completely full every night--the food is great, and it's got an informal vibe that the upstairs restaurant doesn't (I found the latter a bit cold, even though the food was great.) We started with a couple of appetizers--the Brandade de Morue (salt cod purée) and the Paté de Campagne, which is one of the best I've had (though nothing beats my friend Pascal's homemade paté). I had a lamb shoulder served with a flatbread made of chickpeas. John had the Merguez sausage, and Lynn had the prix fixe with a salad, truite amandine, and a caramel pot de crème with a bit of fleur de sel sprinkled on top, which was to be mixed in. Lynn was kind of full, so we all shared the pot de crème, which was luscious.

Afterwards we went to the concert. We managed to sell the extra ticket to someone who thought they'd show up at the last minute to a sold-out show. John didn't want to bother, and he paid for them, but Lynn and I felt obligated to at least try. Of course, had we left it unsold, I wouldn't have had to sit next to a slightly annoying person who didn't enjoy the concert. The rest of us did. There was an opening act, Griffin something (Holt?) who played a 1/2 hour set. He strummed his guitar, whined that he didn't have the chance to get a beer before the show (which someone eventually brought him) and sang songs about relationships and one about being Judas.

Richard Thompson was accompanied by Danny Thompson (no relation), a stand-up bassist who is regarded as one of the best jazz bassists on the planet. They played about a 2-hour set, including encores. Richard Thompson is one of the most amazing guitarists I've ever seen, and a great songwriter, with a lot of wit. He's also got a very dry sense of humor. I think I figured out one reason I'll never be a great guitar player: we were sitting quite close (row D) so I could see that Richard Thompson's fingers are long enough that the first two segments of each finger, maybe excluding the pinky, can span the width of the fretboard, so he doesn't have to bend his hand around the neck like I do. The other reasons, of course, are lack of innate skill, and lack of study or practice. Thompson plays a bass line with a pick while playing really amazing lead lines with his fingers.

The show ended at 11, and by the time we got out of the hall it was about 6 past. I have an injured knee and leg from biking and paintball, so I hobbled as fast as I could to the ferry terminal, but missed the 11:15 by 2 minutes, so I had to wait around for the 12:45. Commuter Comforts saved the day again, though they pestered us into leaving around 12:10. A cab ride home with one of our barely functional Bainbridge cab drivers, and I was in bed by 1:40. A fine evening out, except for that hanging out in the ferry terminal for 1.5 hours bit.