On Monday I went to see Joe Jackson play Thalia Hall. I’d never seen him play live but have known his songs since I was a kid. “Steppin’ Out” and “Breaking Us in Two” in particular are lodged so deep I don’t really remember life without them. It’s dangerous to see a show like this. Dangerous because the relationship with the music is so intense that having it externalized can’t help but disappoint, right?

He didn’t disappoint. As soon as he sat down at the keyboard and started into “It’s Different For Girls” I had tears streaming down my face. He didn’t do all the songs I wanted, but maybe that would’ve been too much to ask. There was a tophat sitting next to his seat and I wondered whether he was saving it for a dance number, but late in the show he picked it up, reached in, and picked out a slip of paper, explaining he chooses a different cover to do each night this way. That night it was a vocal version of “The Peter Gunn Theme” he’d recently learned from Sarah Vaughn. I’m glad I went. 

Friday my friend Wendy asked me to come draw the premiere performance of a new flamenco piece.

Drawing dancers isn’t easy but I enjoyed it. The music—played on guitar, violin,and bass—was beautiful.

Having it punctuated and underlined by the dancers’ tapping, pounding shoes gave it a whole other level of intensity.

Saturday I went to an early, “intimate’ set by Fred & Toody Cole of the long-running band Dead Moon at the Empty Bottle.

What “intimate” usually means is quieter or softer, in this context, but they bashed out their tunes just like they would’ve with a drummer and bigger amplifiers. These two have been at it for so long yet they show no sign of quit. Not surprisingly, many of their songs are about persistence, of going on despite long odds. Watching them keep going was inspiring. It wasn’t a nostalgia trip, but a way forward.