We had to rush back from Oregon (no stopping at Powell’s on the way back) because we had tickets to see Kepa Junkera
at the Century Ballroom
on Sunday night. I was a terrible passenger, with my head stuck in a book—Jonathan Coe’s fabulous House of Sleep
, which I’d bought on the way down and was completely captivated by. I’d enjoyed his book What a Carve Up!
(known as The Winshaw Legacy
in the United States, for some reason), and while The House of Sleep
!’s political context, it’s none the worse for that. Coe reminds me of writers like Patrick Gale, David Lodge, and even Robertson Davies, who conjure up complex situations and casts of characters and manipulate them really well. His new book, The Closed Circle
, was due to be published in England just a couple of days after I left last month. Given the woeful exchange rate, I probably wouldn’t have bought it if it had been in stores while I was still there, but now I’m kinda sorta tempted to splash out on it from Amazon.co.uk. I also eschewed a piece of nonfiction penned by Coe: a biography of B.S. Johnson
. I walked on by because I’d never heard of the subject, but now I’m thinking that was a mistake.
Kepa Junkera was awesome. It was a pretty concise show—90 solid minutes, no opening act and no messing around—because the Century Ballroom was hosting its usual Sunday night dance afterward. As fabulous as the show was, I was relieved to get out of there by 9:10. It was Sunday night, we’d had a long drive, and I wanted to finish my book.
The show was wonderful, though. Kepa on trikitixa
, a drummer, a bassist (who looked like a cross between Ian Curtis and the guy who plays Mr. Vicary on Red Cap
), an acoustic guitarist, and a txalaparta
duo who also played alboka
(the instrument I’d most like to learn to play) and tambourine. When I was a hip young thing back in the '70s, I’d never have thought that I would get all excited about a concert by a dude playing an accordion accompanied by a couple of guys banging sticks on some planks of wood, but there you go.
KJ won a 2004 Latin Grammy for the live album [backward K] (though Fnac lists
it as K
). They didn’t have that album on sale at the concert, but even the 2001 release Maren
was a treat to find in the US.