Sometime in 1990, I leaned against the bar at the Rendezvous and paid for my drink with a $10 bill. The bartender disliked the young punks (or were we "thugs"?) who sometimes dared to appear in what was then a dive bar filled with cigarette smoke. The rumpled, hard-living regulars didn't give a shit about my two-foot tsunami of fried, purple-blond-blue hair.
I took my drink and my change. From the stack of bills, I left a buck, a good tip for a two-dollar drink. Call it a surcharge for atmosphere. I jabbed the bills back in my wallet and saw my triumph: a fiver and four ones! A free drink! While glaring at me, while hating me, the bartender had miscounted my change. His mistake—like me, he too was drunk—not only absolved my humiliating minutes spent waiting to drink, but jolted me. Somewhere else.
There, I learned how to look and listen at a bar, to spot festering dramas, and to soak in conversation simultaneously with background music.
I haven't attempted to see Seattle School's monthly Strikethrough series at the Rendezvous, which was lovingly remodeled several years ago and remains one of my favorite bars.
"NO ONE ADMITTED" and the rest of Strikethrough's motto, "No Public. No Press. No Family. No Friends." doesn't repel me and shouldn't repel you either. Those ostensibly hostile prohibitions actually describe the early, empty, and lonely state occupied by beginning artists and those who still struggle to create. Don't most artists play to empty or near-empty rooms anyway?
Strikethrough is more than a snide dare or vacuous denial of activity. It doesn't lance the traditional notion of performance. The slated performer, C. Davida Ingram, is a performance artist who graced Seattle School's Motel event at the Bridge Motel last fall. For Motel, Ingram printed business cards and placed an ad on Craigslist, "Black woman willing to make your favorite meal." I imagine she will continue to be bold and brazen in her piece "What a Body Can Do."
Strikethrough inverts the carnival atmosphere of Motel, a gift to those who did not arrive early and refused to brave the long queues that snaked out of rooms, down the stairs, and into the parking lot.
For all of us, Strikethrough stakes out an unbounded space to imagine what might be happening, what should happen, and what will never happen behind those (presumably) locked doors at the Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater.
"There is no such thing as music," writes Christopher Small in his book Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening. "Music is not a thing at all but an activity, something that people do. The apparent thing 'music' is a figment, an abstraction of the action, whose reality vanishes as soon as we examine it at all closely." Go to the Rendezvous, drink at the bar, and imagine. In Strikethrough, the performer is you.
Speculate on Strikethrough Mon April 28, the Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater, 2318 Second Ave, 441-5823, 8 pm, no one admitted.
THE WAYNE HORVITZ TRIO
The keyboardist and eclectic composer—his oratorio with improvisers, Joe Hill, should be out on New World Records any day now—performs a rare trio gig with drummer Eric Eagle and bassist Geoff Harper. Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave, 684-7171, noon—1 pm, free.
I can't parse the name, but I like how this jazz quartet borrows a bit of gentle minimalism from Steve Reich for wistful, tango-infused ballads and midtempo numbers. Egan's Ballard Jam House, 1707 NW Market St, 789-1621, 7 pm, $7.
BALLARD JAZZ FESTIVAL
This multi-night festival continues with tonight's Brotherhood of the Drum with Ben Thomas, Garfield Jazz alum D'Vonne Lewis, and Origin Records honcho John Bishop. On Friday, the Ballard Jazz Walk presents over a dozen acts within a five-block radius in Ballard as well as tenor saxophonist Hadley Caliman. The legendary saxophonist Lee Konitz performs Saturday; the festival concludes with a jazz brunch at 11 am on Sunday. Various venues, see ballardjazzfestival.com for details, 219-3649, 8 pm, $10—$30.
SEATTLE CHAMBER PLAYERS
The SCP stages a two-day festival, "The Asian Muse." Composer Chen Yi curates the first night with Toru Takemitsu's Rain Tree Sketch and "Lied" by Toshio Hosokawa, a Japanese composer who welcomes quiet sounds. Pieces by Mukai Kohei, Xi Wang, Kotoka Suzuki, Hu Xiao-ou, and Chen Yi (the Chinese Ancient Dances) round out the program. On Sun April 27 at Town Hall, pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama gives a 6 pm recital of Sommer Reisen, a combination of Schubert's Impromptu, improvisation, and field recordings from five Japanese cities. The rest of the evening is devoted to Heiner Goebbels, Mahler (a chamber version of "Der Abschied" arranged by Schoenberg and Ranier Riehn), Zhou Long, and Dutch aggro-minimalist Louis Andriessen. Fourth-floor Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 286-5052, 7:30 pm, $8—$12.
DAVE BRUBECK AND RAMSEY LEWIS
Brubeck and Lewis belong in the elect company of jazz pianists who scored mainstream hits in the 1960s: "Take Five" and "The 'In' Crowd." Since then, both have explored fusion, orchestral music, and other projects, yet here they play the straight-ahead repertory fans expect. Paramount Theater, 911 Pine St, 292-2787, 8 pm, $43—$56 (includes $10.50 in service charges).
NORTHWEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Conductor Anthony Spain leads the band in the Return to Misty Magic Land by electronic music pioneer Allen Strange (who died in February) and Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Eric Rynes, chiefly known as a champion of experimental solo violin music, is the soloist in Beethoven's Violin Concerto. Highline Performing Arts Center, 401 S 152nd St, Burien, 292-2787, 8 pm, $10—$14.
The astounding German reedman Ullmann returns with an all-star quartet featuring trombonist Steve Swell, renowned drummer Barry Altschul, and Hilliard Greene on bass. Expect a decidedly avant take on classic jazz ballads and rowdy, skronky textures leavened with attentive silence. Seattle Asian Art Museum, 1400 E Prospect St, Volunteer Park, 547-6763, 8 pm, $13/$15.