Lovie wasn't seated at her usual stool adjacent to the bakery counter. Mary -- creator of unusual cakes and muffins at Farm Fresh for over a decade -- didn't have the faintest idea of my girl's whereabouts. Too bad, because Lovie was going to miss out on an intimate performance from Bob Mould -- whose surname sits like a tainted loaf, but the music from him is always hot outta the oven. The first time I spun Flip Your Wig in her presence, she commented on Mould's guitar prowess being more impressive than Eddie Van Halen's. Well, Lovie wouldn't be seeing any eruptions at The Jewish Mother with me. Maybe she'd met "Dirty Bill" in the parking lot at C&M Cafeteria, since he was no longer permitted to visit any Farm Fresh in the Tidewater area. Before the banishment, Bill got his daily sustenance from heaping servings of salad, endless packets of crackers, cheese samples and bottomless cups of coffee dumped into a faded container from WaWa. Once his fat ass was filled to the brim, he helped himself to a handful of Virginia Lottery golf pencils. Bill needed no well-wishing from Lady Luck, for he struck the Pick 6 every time at the Fresh. His scamming ways were finally sent out the door, when a manager caught him in the act of loading up on lettuce without paying. Reluctantly, DB left, but not without an extended tirade about the coffee always being cold. Several weeks later, Lovie invited the grungy guy to the Golden Corral. Bill somewhat enjoyed the spread, but he was more intent on filling Ziploc bags with chicken, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and chocolate pudding for his bed-ridden wife and stuffing them into his coat pockets. Lovie and many other patrons were in fits of laughter, but another dining companion of hers exclaimed, "NEVER AGAIN!" Bill has since relocated to South Bend, Indiana, but I wouldn't put it past him to attempt an exchange of 39-cent crumbly bread for football tickets. Next time, head east to Philadelphia. Temple U trades luxury boxes for stale Sunbeam.
As my sister Shannon and I seated ourselves at a prime Jew Mom table, Florida was taming the Villanova Wildcats' NCAA round-ball run. Earlier in the day, the darlings of George Mason had pulled off a shocker against the mighty Connecticut Huskies. Would tonight's opening act also write one for the history books? Already on stage intoning his "Check 1-2s," Mould readied his guitars and mic for game time. But first, the Indigo Boys had to dribble. OK, I didn't actually know the gentlemen's names or the band of whom they were a regular part. However, since one of the Girls from Georgia had worn a Husker Du tee for an Indigo album shoot, the handle became theirs by default. Armed with acoustic guitars, the 'Boys strummed a mixture of original compositions and classic rock stand-bys. Nothing too worthy of bootlegging, but at least they weren't the guy on the stairs at Animal House or your friend who has difficulty peeling "Blister In The Sun" without twenty do-overs. Plus, it was adequate background noise for sucking down 3-dollar Tecates in 16-ounce cans. The Indigo Boys might wanna refine their between-song chatter, though. During one lull, the man playing the part of Amy Ray mispronounced Mould's name, whined incessantly about how the vocalist from Tool was his favorite in all of rock 'n' roll, and revealed plans on infiltrating the Christian rock scene. What had been closer to fine was now putting the fear in this kid. Two technicals and an ejection for you, Amy.
Clearing the court of IB's perspiration, Mould poured his initial glass of drawn H20 from a bucket in the "Wishing Well." If Lady Luck was responsible for the selection, then I'd like to kiss her. But why did you neglect the "Sunspots" intro that begins page one of the punk-gone-folk Workbook?Nonetheless, LL and Bob's magic wands waved a bare-bones approach on two other chapters. "See A Little Light" shone brilliantly in spite of its not-so-cheery lyricism, while "Sinners And Their Repentances" sung like a dirge for the drunkards in attendance. The bitter aftertaste called for something sweet, so Bob dipped into "Hoover Dam" and "Needle Hits E" from the Sugar bag. Martin Popoff once referred to Mould's follow-up band as "Husker Two." Indeed, the abrasive pop (Buzzcocks/Burma colliding with Beatles/Who?), masterful songwriting and intense instrumentation that'd been Hu Du's hallmark greeted first-time listeners of Sugar in a slightly-saccharine form. However, nothing beats the original cane. Unlike his Beaster stop at The Boathouse in Norfolk many moons ago, Bob had had "No Reservations" about "Hardly Getting Over It." The two Warner Bros.-era gems had just the right amount of dust on them, as one enthusiastic sort to our left mouthed along to every familiar word and note. If there'd been a ribbon awarded to the biggest Mould fan at The Jewish Mother, the bespectacled dude standing up front would've been blue. A Tecate toast to you, man. Perhaps drawing on an angle from his days as a writer for World Championship Wrestling, Bob switched from acoustic to electric guitar on "Days Of Rain" in mid-song. For a portion of the piece, he sang a cappella whilst having problems swapping axes. The crowd loved every odd second of it, of course. Mould remained amped for the set's duration and immediately launched into "Circles" and "Paralyzed" from the recent Body Of Song album. "The Act We Act," "Your Favorite Thing" and "If I Can't Change Your Mind" sprinkled more Sugar at the masses craving another taste. "I Apologize," "Celebrated Summer" and "Makes No Sense At All" ripped through Husker Du's SST catalog. No longer the portly guy from the Zen Arcade portrait, Bob was looking fit and drank water instead of brew. Asking about a good gym, the status of The Boathouse (closed) and other good venues in the area, he was unusually engaging. All told, a fine night at the Jew Mom. Some quibbles: A full-band arrangement would've sent the performance into the stratosphere. Bells were sorely missed on "High Fidelity," and the absence of a cello on "Sinners And Their Repentances" was mourned. I know Mould hasn't worked well with bass players, but even a little thumpin' accompaniment from an Indigo Boy could've given him a prop to drown out. Most importantly, the lack of a drummer stood out on the Du and Sugar tunes. Whether it's Grant Hart, Malcolm Travis, Brendan Canty or Doktor Avalanche, hit 'em with rhythm next time 'round.
Post-performance, I shook Bob's hand and spoke to him for around 45 seconds. He kindly autographed my copies of Metal Circus, Copper Blue and The Last Dog And Pony Show as I talked his ear off about the Buzzcocks and Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill (next tour stop). Mould said he'd caught the 'Cocks ' show in D.C. and thought the drummer sucked. Sound familiar? I almost told him that someone had accidentally brought Bob Marley CDs to get signed, but the cat held back my tongue. You jammin'? Everybody must get stoned? No bong hit for me, thanks, for I'd seen and talked with THE Bob from Minnesota I give a damn about.