Sinister Dexter at Grant and Green
It takes a lot to get me to go out in North Beach on a weekend evening these days. What is one of the City's most delightful neighborhoods on, say, a Wednesday afternoon is downright horrifying on Friday and Saturday nights. But the lure of my friend Kate and a little live music did the trick, and last night I found myself out and about. In North Beach.
Kate and I became friends a couple of years ago when she dated my friend Brad. For a while in 2005 we were all kind of a buddy threesome, with Kate even telling me once she thought Brad and I would end up together because of our strong friendship chemistry. (No offense to Brad, but I laughed at that one.) But then Kate and Brad broke up, and a few months later, he and I drifted apart. So I've only seen Kate once or twice in the last year and a half or so. Well, she and I have decided to make a concerted effort to hang out more, and she suggested taking in her friend Josh's band, Sinister Dexter. Between being intrigued by the description of Sinister Dexter as a swing/funk/brass band and always being up for live music, I readily agreed, and we were off and running.
Kate and I began our evening with a few cocktails at Tony Nik's, a bar I used to frequent quite often until the night-time North Beach crowds and some subtle changes in TN's vibe drove me elsewhere. But I still go there every once in a while, and Kate and I spent at least one epic night there in... again... 2005. So it made sense as our starting point. After sipping a few cocktails meticulously crafted by the fabulous Darin, we took the party a few blocks away to Grant and Green, where Sinister Dexter was playing.
Sinister Dexter was just beginning their second set as we arrived, and within two songs I was in love with them. This 12-piece band has a 7-man horn section. That's right, two trombones, two trumpets and three saxophones. I love brass instruments and instantly developed crushes on all the horn players just because I could. The lead singer was the tiniest bit annoying because, as the only woman in the outfit, she seemed to be trying a little too hard to be sexy and draw attention to herself. That said, she also has a fantastic voice and sings better than I likely can even dream of singing. So I'm probably a little jealous.
Musically, Sinister Dexter's sound is exactly as Kate described it: a swing/funk/brass mix. Their original numbers were nestled alongside covers of everything from Louis Prima's "Jump, Jive and Wail" to Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" to the Blues Brothers' "Hey, Bartender" (a parody version of which I used to sing with Fake Band) to the Ike and Tina Turner version of "Proud Mary." They were so good and had so much energy. Kate, who went to Stanford, tells me that most of the guys are former Stanford band geeks, which makes me love them even more. Say the words "band geek," and you may as well be saying "Sassy's dream man." (A little sad but very true.)
Before I knew it, it was almost 2 a.m. and the staff of Grant and Green were ushering us all out the door. I have a very active social life and go out a lot, but at my advanced age, it is rare that I'm still at a bar at closing time. All in all, I'd give the evening an "A+." I had actually been feeling pretty low all day (stupid emotions!), but Kate and Sinister Dexter pulled me right out of that nonsense. After all, friends are great therapy, and as I've said on this space before, music never lets you down.