I consider myself to be a rock music fan in general. From time from time I, however, fall for a completely different style of music and play it over and over and over again. It only comes with a good band though. Richmond Fontaine from Portland, Oregon are exactly that kind of band.

Richmond Fontaine play country blues and they are very good!

This is reason why my friend and I find myself in North London desperately looking for the music venue, the Luminaire, where the band are playing tonight.

Finally, we see the sign “Luminaire” above a black door on the High Road in Kilburn. Behind the door are VERY steep stairs leading up to the music venue. We walk up and enter the main hall. The stage is on my right and a bar on the left. I try ordering a small glass of wine but the barman informs me that they only have large sizes and without waiting starts pouring away.

By the time we have our drinks the stage is ready for Willy Vlautin, Richmond Fontaine's singer. He climbs up on it accompanied by loud applause. Willy tells us that for the first part of tonight’s gig he will be reading from 'The Motel Life', his debut novel which was published last year. Then he briefly tells us what is the book about and what preceeds the chapter that he will read us tonight.

The story has two teenage brothers, Frank and Jerry Lee, talking to each other. Jerry Lee is injured and will be going into hospital the next day. He is worried that he has made too many mistakes in life that he should pay for.

Willy launches into the reading. His voice sounds almost magnetic. Every fan in the venue is hanging onto every word that Willy says. The story unfolds as Frank comforts his brother by telling him about Jerry Lee's life, but in a completely made up way. The fictious life is full of excitement and violence, and has a beautiful naked girl who Jerry Lee saves and then marries. The story ends when Jerry Lee and his new wife discover oil in their garden and become millionaires. It makes the whole venue laugh but there is more to it than that. The story sounds really human and by the end of it you feel like you know both brothers really well.

Willy returns to the stage just after 10pm. This time he has his guitar with him and he sings for us. The atmosphere in the venue is very peaceful. There are several couples who sit on the sofas along the walls of the venue and rock slowly to the tune of the placid songs.

The rest of Richmond Fontaine joins Willy on the stage after 3 songs and the music becomes richer with instruments and energy.

It’s been an evening full of surprises for me. I guess it is my fault for not check the venue web site to see what is the program but then again isn’t it nice to just be sometimes pleasantly surprised? I should add that the large glass did not make it easier for me to leave the venue vie the steep stairs, but that was not surprising at all.

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Commenting On: Luminaire, London, 22//5/2007 - Willy Vlautin

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