Smokey Hormel at Jalopy

Friday night, we walked all the way up Union Street to Red Hook, stopping midway to drink a glass of wine and eat the daily special at Black Mountain Wine House. Our destination: the 10:30 show at Jalopy. Jalopy is my kind of joint. We wandered in on a hot Friday night, paid the modest cover charge and bought a couple of bottles of beers, eyed the vintage banjos and guitars for sale, and then settled into a middle pew. There was an older, white-bearded, portly gentleman in suspenders sitting near us, nodding off, with his chin on his chest. He looked like a bluegrass Santa. A schnauzery / basset houndy-looking dog, who we later found out belongs to the lap steel player, wandered under the pews, up on stage, back toward the bar.

The band was playing, the fans were blowing, the sound was at a reasonable volume and the mix was good. I closed my eyes and tapped my feet. It was so comfortable. Even the crowd was friendly.

Smokey Hormel was a total pro, easily tossing us country and bluegrass songs that were joyful and spot-on. Everyone in his band was a pro. They played together, following Smokey's lead, improvising harmonies, trading solos. The fiddle player, Charlie Burnham, was especially thrilling.

I'd forgotten how much I love Western swing. I may live in Brooklyn, but there's no doubt I spent my formative years in Wyoming and Colorado.

Heck, I loved the place so much that I'm going back next weekend for a vocal harmony workshop to learn to sing like the Carters.