For weeks I have known about John Medeski playing a solo show at The Barns. Medeski, Martin and Wood is my second favorite band so I knew what to expect seeing Medeski solo. I have seen the Wood Brothers side project which is different then a MMW show. I was expecting him to play a grand piano and this is what I saw on the stage when we arrived. In 2005 I saw MMW play at the Newport Jazz Festival, Medeski had his normal setup but he did play the grand piano they had on stage and that was awesome.
I managed to convince Nancy to come and she suggested we invite my Dad and Pat, they accepted. The two of them normally go out to dinner on Thursdays so it worked out for all of us. I got to see John Medeski and everyone else got a nice evening together as a family. Pat got tickets from the box office and she found a close restaurant to have dinner at, Maplewood Grill.
This was a great classic American restaurant. The decor was nice but the crowd was definitely an older one. If you are young and looking to meet people, don’t come here. I had the chipotle and Guinness braised beef short ribs and they were amazing. The beef was cooked perfectly and the sauce was rich. It came with bacon risotto which was good, it was the beef and the sauce that made this dish.
We arrived at the venue just in time to grab a drink and take our seats. Since I had never been here before I was astonished at the inside. It is exposed beams from a 1730 German barn originally built in New York, pretty cool. There is a loft that seats close to 100 and the acoustics are pretty good in the space. I don’t know if this is because of the wood beams or because it is so small. Certainly for the Medeski show, the grand piano didn’t need any amplification and the sound was clear.
Medeski came on stage at 8:05 and only had a simple greeting. He then proceeded to play for 60 minutes straight without a break. I must be honest, his playing that night was a little weird. He would noodle for a few minutes and then go into a partial tune, back and forth for the entire hour. His noodling was crazy and at times made no musical sense. The transitions often didn’t make sense and I felt it ruined the flow. He would bang on the keys and sometimes even pluck the strings directly in the piano.
It was a weird set and I could tell that Nancy and Pat were getting lost. Nancy was ready to go shortly after the set started. He closed the show with a MMW song that was good but this was decidedly a Medeski show. He took us on a musical journey all over the place, sometimes I got lost and wanted to get off. After the show we all agreed it was interesting. Pat and Nancy didn’t care much for it and even for me, a fan of Medeski, it was a hard show to fall in love with. I liked the solo piano idea and at times he would really jam. Often weird noodling that didn’t make sense or flow and was hard to follow. My dad and I understood what Medeski was doing and as a musical performance, it was something different and new. Personally I can’t wait for the next Medeski, Martin and Wood tour to start.