I dreamed last night I was . . . standing two feet away from graying manhunk Peter Buck, and holding a reasonably intelligent, if quick, game of 1980s-LA-music-scene geography with the impossibly adorable Steve Wynn.
Ahhh, but it wasn’t a dream! Those things really happened — in between sets of The Baseball Project‘s show at Slim’s.
Though some members of The Baseball Project — an America’s pastime-themed supergroup composed of Buck, Wynn, Young Fresh Fellows/occasional R.E.M.er/Minus 5 frontman Scott McCaughey and Wynn’s wailing drummer wife, Linda Pitmon — are heroes from my musical youth, I’m ashamed to say that I waited until the last minute to commit to the show. I’m not really a baseball fan, and my antipathy for the game (and, to be honest, for the people who love it too much) almost cost me a night of great music. For in between tributes to Sandy Koufax, the no-hitter, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych and Ted “F*&^ing” Williams, I got to hear some Dream Syndicate nuggets live, for the first time since . . . forever. And no one moshed into me in front of the stage!
Back in the 1980s, I had friends who gigged around in LA. Steve Wynn ruled the scene, and R.E.M. ruled the world. So, it was interesting to see the jangly guitar hero Buck without a mic and relegated mostly to bass (a notable exception was his perfect 12-string opening riff for “Tell Me When It’s Over“), while Wynn and McCaughey took turns leading.
What’s more, many of the baseball songs evoke more nostalgic feeling than ballpark specifics, which worked perfectly for me — and for the venue, I think. A few aging goth girls mingled with middle-aged guys in all manner of team flair and trucker hat. Call it the Paisley Underground 2011 — just another great Saturday night in San Francisco.