Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tina Dico at The Hotel Cafe

It was a cold and rainy night as I walked up to the Hotel Café. Okay, this is Hollywood, so when I say cold and raining, I really mean low 50s and drizzling. But I was the first in line so I stood under the doorway and listened to Astrid Swan I believe (I could be completely wrong here) as she did her sound check; sounded like Fiona Apple as her voice was filtered through the walls. I was all prepared for an evening alone; had my IPOD with me. But shortly after I arrived three people rolled out of a car and became my new best friends. Ed, Amanda, the guy with the hat (sorry, I just can’t remember his name) and I had a fun filled pre concert conversation, talking about everything from gas explosions (guy with hat works for Gas Company) to Chucky Cheese (Amanda used to be a rat). As the line grew, we were talking about gas blowing up in your face and this guy behind us tells us about his burns. Someone asked what the gas was and he said, “Petroleum Ether” (or something like that). I couldn’t resist, “Was that the last time you did freebase”? “Uhmmmm, actually it was hash oil”. Okay, enough nonsense.

The doors opened and in we went. If you haven’t been to the remodeled Hotel Café, they did a great job. You enter from the back now and there is a big lobby area where you can sit at cocktail tables and drink (there is a second bar too). You then go through double doors into the old room. They have widened the room by about 1/3 and instead of 2 rows of tables; there are now 5 or so rows. The capacity on the wall says 189, but that probably includes the back lobby where you can’t really hear the music. They did not change the stage one bit and yes, the red curtains are still there.

We sat down at the front table against the wall and awaited the opening act, Kristin Hoffman. Kristin is, according to her bio, classically trained. Part way through the first song you figure out that her instrument was her voice. One of the highlights of her performance was her cover of Joni Mitchell’s, “Case of You”. She hit all of the low and high notes. It was very impressive. There were a couple of really good songs in the set also, but it seemed like her voice lacked the emotion required to pull off this kind of music. Ed thought her piano playing on her right hand was a little heavy handed. Overall I enjoyed her show though. As she sang, you could hear the rain beating down on the side of the building (this time it really was rain) and Kristin commented on how cool it was and that it was like being in a cave. Yes, a cave filled with beautiful female voices.

And then it was Tina’s Turn. You can not start out a discussion of Tina Dico live without talking about her statuesque beauty. All legs, blond hair and the sweetest smile, this native of Denmark is as beautiful as she is humble. What you realize when she smiles is that she probably knows that she is beautiful, but that this is her art and that is what is important about the evening. The music isn’t about a producer making some beauty the next big thing, it is her personal life and she wants to share it with us.

And then she starts playing and wow! She played the guitar (a Gibson Hummingbird, which just sounded so good) with confidence and sang with the kind of emotion you get from sitting all day in an unfurnished flat in London with no money and only your music to get you by. Most of the evening was dedicated to her new CD, “In the Red”. No band was needed for this music: You can see that the songs are really that good. For her encore she dipped into her past for a couple of songs. One of the funny moments was when this guy yelled out an old song. She told the crowd that last night in San Diego someone yelled out that song and she said, “I’m sorry, I don’t really think I know that one well enough. Next time”. And the guy in the crowd said, “No problem, I’ll see you tomorrow in Hollywood”. So, there he was and so, as she promised, she sang it. For those wondering, she did not sing any Zero 7 songs (unless I missed one).

It was a great show that lasted about 45 to 50 minutes. Afterward we hung out in the lobby. The doorman said that after he let all of the people waiting in line for Jose Gonzales in, we could buy tickets. He assured us it wouldn’t sell out. So the 4 of us talked for about an hour. I slipped over and chatted with Tina for a few minutes. She really is so sweet. At about 10:30 the gang left. We said goodbye, never to see each other again. And I waited another 20 minutes. It became apparent that the line outside was continuing to grow and when I peaked my head into the room, it was packed all the way to the back of the bar. They were sold out (at least the fire marshal would probably say so) even as they continued to let people in. At just before 11, with no music started, I decided that as much as I wanted to see Jose, it was time to leave. I could barely see the stage and the sound in the back of The Hotel Café is usually overshadowed by talking. With Jose Gonzales, you really want to be right there: The music is so intimate. Maybe next time. He is playing at the Echo tonight, but I can’t see driving out to L.A. again.


Vickie said...

I have to admit that I have never heard of Tina Dico. Your review, however, has tweaked my curiosity. I'm going to keep my eyes open, and will do my best to see her should she play in the DC/MD/NOVA area.

Bruce Greenberg said...

Go to Amazon and track her CD. I think you will like it.

Stacey said...

I love love love Sia Furler's voice and Tina's. I fell in love with Sia's Breathe on the finale to Six Feet Under and checked out her website which features a message board that she regularly checks. Kind of cool! I'll check out Tina too.

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