Jim Waive at the Blue Moon Diner

By Amy Briggs

The products of serious effort have a certain mystique. Well-written correspondence, elaborate tattoos, quilts, graffitied tableaux, log cabins, tended gardens, project cars in the garage... they all have commonalities: deliberation, concentration, thought. And they're cool, too.

But easy accessibility seems to be threatening our focus. E-mail saps our grammar. Calculators rob us of long division. Cable tricks us into another evening of bad Goldie Hawn movies. Even communication to our special somebodies is pretty casual and mindless. In the Civil War, soldiers wrote three times on the same piece of paper, in heart-wrenching prose. Now we've devolved to IM chat: "hey wassup foo just wanted to say hey call me : )"

So, looking for a throwback to a time when labor was loved and people were pined for, I went over to the Blue Moon Diner last Thursday to see Jim Waive. It was one of the first cooler evenings after that merciless period of sweltering weather, but the place was inexplicably deserted. At first I thought I'd missed the show, but then the waitress nodded to the unassuming figure tuning his guitar in the corner– a long-haired, cheerful-looking man who smiled occasionally at the handful of customers.

Thumbing bass on the E and A, Waive began with "Jack o' Hearts," a sad tune that would have been right at home on a San Antonio jukebox. He reminded of a milder Hank Williams Sr., but without the painkillers and booze. In his soft and decidedly countryesque delivery, the themes stayed true: the girl remained cherished, the rivers kept flowing, and promises continued to be made under moonlight. In fact, several of his best originals and covers involved lunar love, ending with "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Several people walking by strayed from their course to stay and watch; one couple even shook his hand in thanks.

Although Waive did have some one-man accompaniment (vocal harmony and steel-string slide) halfway through his set, he seems to need something bigger to back him. Although he's apparently been playing around Charlottesville mostly solo for years, I think a fuller band would do him justice, especially in a setting larger than a diner... maybe an upright bass and a drum kit, for that extra horse trot kick. Jim Waive's songs should never have to compete with the ringing of cell phones.