Shuttle Diplomacy

Chaise Lounge acted as an emissary between two musical countries last weekend–and the odd and somewhat schizophrenic nature of what we do was brought into sharp focus. On Saturday night, we played at Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia, the jazziest of East Coast Jazz clubs. On Sunday, we played at Godfrey Daniels, a quintessential folk club in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Jazz and folk: Could Chaise Lounge really find common ground between those two ideologies? At Chris’ we brought a folksinger’s love of storytelling to the coolest cats in Philly. And at Godfrey Daniels, we brought our sharp suits and sharp chops and swung our as*** off for the salt-of-the-earth folksters of Bethlehem. And hooray, it felt like we brought a little bit of peace, love, and understanding to both sides, at a time when our country can use as much peace, love, and understanding as we can get.

A flash of inspiration

Corner of High and Blue Youtube ScreenshotYou never know where your next idea will come from. For us, most recently, it came from a set of walking directions and an offhand crack from Pete. Last month, when we played at The Rooster’s Wife in North Carolina, we were honored to be houseguests of the club’s owner, Janet Kenworthy. After sound check, Janet gave us directions to her house: “Walk out this door, turn right on High Street, then walk up to Blue Street and it’s right there.” “OK,” I repeated, “You’re at the corner of High and Blue.” After the perfect pause, Pete said meaningfully, “Man, I’ve been there.

How could this not be the next song in what Marilyn refers to as our “scorned-woman-slumped-over-bar catalog”? When we got home, I put pencil to staff paper and came up with a new song named after the intersection—and the mental state. Here’s a video of us performing it last week at our favorite DC supper club, The Hamilton: “The Corner of High and Blue.”

—Charlie

A treasured trek to the Tarheel State

The Rooster’s Wife is a Brigadoon-like venue that springs to life once a week in a building that used to be a plumbing supply warehouse. Located in the tiny town of Aberdeen, North Carolina, the concert hall is the singular vision of one person, Janet Kenworthy, who loves live music in a way that bakers love bread and flowers love rain. It is partly the depth of her passion that attracts great bands from all over North America, and it’s partly the crowd that she has cultivated. At the odd time of 6:46 PM (every show starts then), an audience of enthusiastic and knowledgable music lovers assembles in this unlikely spot. The confluence of good music and a good audience is the magic formula that every band dreams of. It’s why we were honored to make the pilgrimage to Aberdeen again this year for a Mother’s Day show. Thanks Janet, for making this happen. And thanks to North Carolina-based photographer John Gessner for his wonderful shots of the evening.

Tommy Barrick at the Rooster's Wife by John Gessner

Tommy Barrick at the Rooster’s Wife (photo: John Gessner)

Joe Jackson at the Rooster's Wife by John Gessner

Joe Jackson at the Rooster’s Wife (photo: John Gessner)

Pete Ostle at the Rooster's Wife by John Gessner

Pete Ostle at the Rooster’s Wife (photo: John Gessner)

Marilyn Older at The Rooster's Wife by John Gessner

Marilyn Older at The Rooster’s Wife (photo: John Gessner)

“Full of wit, charm, and elegance”

Thanks to Amos Perrine for his very kind words in No Depression—our first review in this authoritative journal of American roots music:

I first saw Chaise Lounge by accident a couple years back, and what I thought might be a tragically hip retro band turned out to be completely the opposite. Much like Chris Siebert, who leads Lavay Smith’s band, and Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini, Charlie Barnett keeps the band’s eye firmly focused on the musical prize, but with a dry martini on the side.

Their latest, Gin Fizz Fandango, is at once playful and seductive jazz, sometimes with gorgeous vocals by Marilyn Older, and other times it’s Joe Jackson’s trombone that makes you feel you are in the middle of a Fellini movie, as he evokes ghosts of Nino Rota.

This, their seventh album since 1999, is full of wit, charm, and elegance that could only come from a jazz band harkening back to the golden age, but without a fatal sense of nostalgic irony. The disc is full of originals, save for one Cole Porter tune. Like a gin fizz, Chaise Lounge tickles not only your senses, but your fancy as well. The album is out now, so tango on over.