Songs of Patsy Cline and a Crazy Drive South

Thursday night, my wife discovered that Shirley Manson of Garbage was going to be performing three songs at the Songs of Patsy Cline event at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The event was last night. She pulled up decent tickets on Ticketmaster, bought them and drove us down I-5 yesterday to attend.

We got up and had a quick McDonald’s breakfast as we got on the road. We stopped off at a couple of places to rest, with Coalinga/Avenal’s rest area being the lowlight. There are no vending machines there and the restrooms were out of service. What is the point of a rest area without those two items? We ended up getting some water at a 76 station at the next exit instead and then moving on.

Our highlight stop on the road south was Buttonwillow, where we ate lunch at Willow Ranch Restaurant, which specializes in “deep-pit” barbecue. I had the deep-pit beef and my wife had the deep-pit chicken, both served as sandwiches on French rolls. I had a berry cobbler and my wife had a chocolate silk pie slice for dessert. It was a great meal and I wouldn’t mind eating there again in the future.

Our last stop before Walt Disney Concert Hall was Stevenson Ranch, where we walked around Wal-Mart and Toys ‘R Us to kill some time. We ended up buying the new Foo Fighters album, Wasting Light, which came with a piece of the master tape in the sleeve. We also got Serenity and Office Space on Blu-Ray for $10 each.

We parked down the street from the concert hall and picked up our tickets at the box office. We sat next to the high-priced cafe for a few minutes and then browsed the gift shop for a while. They were playing The Living Sisters’ Love to Live CD and I didn’t care for it. Thankfully, they switched over to Patsy Cline a few minutes later and that was much better. The crowd were much better dressed than we were and also significantly older than us. I didn’t see anyone our age all night and only one young girl there with her parents who my wife thought may have been dragged along.

A table was set up where they were selling posters that had all of the artist names on them. I bought one for my wife because it had Shirley’s name on it. It is a nice poster though, an old time screen printed poster.

Eventually they let us go upstairs to the concert hall’s hallways to wait a bit longer until they opened the doors for us to go to our seats. We had some trouble finding our seats in the ever-expanding hallways. It got harder to navigate when we got higher in the building. Eventually we got to our door and were let inside.

The stage was set up with a piano, stand-up bass, drum kit, electric guitar, slide guitar and trumpet arranged with couches, comfy chairs, an ottoman and a single old-timey lamp behind them. Lots of microphones in the front.

The show started with the band, which played with all of the musicians, coming out first and then The Living Sisters arrival. They played “Walkin’ After Midnight” to start the show, all dressed in different shades of blue and then introduced John C. Reilly, an actor/musician who played Dewey Cox in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and sings pretty well. He did two Patsy Cline songs. The Living Sisters then did a song or two and brought out their second guest, Shirley Manson.

Shirley did three songs by Patsy Cline. She talked about how it was appropriate for her to be there just before Mother’s Day as her mother introduced her to Patsy Cline’s music. Then she sang “Never No More”. She joked about when Garbage tried to play “I Fall to Pieces” and they did fall to pieces. Then she sang “Strange”. She thanked the wonderful band for backing her on the tracks. Then she sang “Leavin’ On Your Mind”. Then she left. Her part of the show was around 20 minutes of an overall 1 1/2 hour show. Her voice was great as always and of all of the people that sang she sang with the most believable emotion in the song. You could tell being there and performing those songs meant something to her.

The Living Sisters did their next song or two and brought out Charlie Wadhams to do a couple of songs. Charlie is tall. I don’t really know much more about him and his songs weren’t remarkable. His set was only notable because John Doe (of X) guested on guitar on the first song he did. Otherwise, I couldn’t tell you anything else about it.

The Living Sisters did a couple more songs here I think and then brought out Zooey Deschanel. She got all of the “big” songs, with “I Fall To Pieces” opening and “Crazy” closing her three song set. She sounded fine but lacked any real emotion in her songs. I was a bit disappointed and wish Shirley had gotten at least one of those two big numbers. I can’t ask for much though. I’m sure a large portion of the old people crowd were there to see Zooey.

The Living Sisters did another number or two and then brought out their final guest, John Doe, of the Los Angeles punk band X. He did “Two Cigarettes” and “Back in Baby’s Arms” on vocals and guitar. For “Two Cigarettes”, The Living Sisters and Zooey did a little bit of harmony vocals.

After John Doe, The Living Sisters closed out the show with “A Poor Man’s Roses (Or A Rich Man’s Gold)” and then the people still sitting in the background, John, John, Zooey and Charlie, joined The Living Sisters as they boogied off the stage.

I enjoyed Shirley Manson’s performance best. John Doe and John C. Reilly were good too. The Living Sisters and Zooey Deschanel weren’t so great. Charlie Wadhams was completely forgettable. The show was strange. The crowd was incredibly old. I don’t feel I really learned anything about Patsy Cline from the event. But it was still great to be there and to see Shirley sing again.

Post-show, as we were leaving, another band was set up outside the lobby and singing “Jolene” but we wanted to get out of Los Angeles and head home. It was only 9:30pm when we crossed the street with a couple of old ladies and got to our car and got out of dodge.

We drove north throughout the night. We stopped over a couple of times to rest and made it home around 5:00AM. I don’t really remember much of the drive home other than the time between 3:00-4:20 when I was actually driving. I don’t know how my wife manages to power through so much driving but we made it there and back again safely, had a good time seeing Shirley Manson perform some old standards by a country music legend and only paid for food, gas and the price of admission, plus $8 parking.

It was a fun and quick jaunt to Southern California and now we’re home and going to take my wife’s grandmother to a church dinner/dance to celebrate Mother’s Day and then maybe, just maybe, see Real Vocal String Quartet at Freight and Salvage to cap off the weekend.

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