On a rainy night in North County San Diego, Steve Poltz, the somewhat crazy, friend to everyone, singer/songwriter, and co-writer of Jewel's hit "You were meant for me", turned 50 with hundreds of his closest friends and family there to help him celebrate. The Belly Up Tavern was packed for their local hero who put together a show that hardly stopped from 9pm till well past midnight.
Steve, sporting a pink cast on his left arm came out and introduced Lisa Sanders, who played guitar and sang along with a backup singer. She has a beautiful voice, although it was often lost because of the crowd noise. This is San Diego, and having lived there for over 4 years I can say without a doubt that they are the worst audiences I've ever had to share clubs with. I love the Belly Up, but most people in San Diego seem to go to shows for the scene, not the music. It has been that way since the 70's and hasn't appeared to change any. But I digress.
Juan asked me if all the bands were going to sound alike. Well, it was obvious right away that this wasn't going to be one of those nights. As the beautiful sounds of Lisa Sanders were replaced by Mojo Nixon. If you don't know who Mojo Nixon is, this will give you an idea of what the next half hour or so were like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mojo_Nixon . He opened with a new song called, "Steve Poltz is an old MF". If I need to explain what MF is, you're not old enough to be reading this. Anyways, this was a sweet ballad compared to where he was headed last night. And... And... I just don't think I can go there in this blog. Let's just say it was obscenely over the top with Mojo performing some of his biggest hits. Well, maybe not hits, but they were some of his most notorious songs. Okay, pretty much everything he sings is notorious. He didn't do the Don Henley song though. "Elvis is Everywhere" may have been the show's highlight. Throughout his performance, he kept coming back to the Steve Poltz song, and we sang as loud as we could. I feel lucky that I finally got to see this legend. Uhmmm, but I really felt like I needed a shower afterwards.
Mojo worked the crowd to a near frenzy, and now it was time for Steve Poltz to perform for us. Unfortunately this caused a short disruption in the pace of the show since this was also Steve's CD release party for "Dreamhouse" and much of the CD is quiet (at least quiet compared to Mojo). But Poltz mixed up old songs and new ones with ease. His band, the Cynics really rocked. He brought out guests to perform solo and with him. It started with Anya Marina, a singer/songwriter who has had a bunch of songs on TV shows. Her solo singing was totally drowned out by the crowd although they gave her a nice round of applause. Gregory Page, from the Rugburns sang a few songs. I love his voice. A.J. Croce (yes, that is Jim's son) sang a few songs also, and man, can he play piano. He did a ragtime number that was out of this world. Each artist would join the band, then sing a song or two by themselves (or with Steve) and then the band would come back and they might stay for another number or two. Cindy Lee Berryhill (who I haven't seen in over 20 years) came out and sang backup to a song. Meanwhile, Steve's set rocked the house. With his broken hand putting his guitar playing out of commission, he bounced around the stage non stop, not really knowing what to do with himself. He was almost manic. He brought up his physician who helped with the broken hand, and a couple who danced to one of his songs at their wedding (they danced on stage). He even wished his sister a happy birthday (they were born 2 years apart on the same day). When he finally got to the classic "You were meant for me" (which, as usual, included the David Cassidy rap), he shared the guitar with his guitarist in a cozy funny way.
The evening ended for us with the Rugburns reuniting on stage for an absurdly rocking set. We had to leave early, but I can't imagine any more craziness could have happened that night. Of course, it was a Steve Poltz show, so anything was possible.