What's in a name? Oldsters get into the dream

at Miller's
August 21

Five reasons prompted me to see the band Dreamcar at Miller's last Saturday night, and they were, in order of increasing importance:

* If I don't know the bands performing on a night I want to review shows, I pick the one with the most something name– it can be the most interesting or most inane.

* The show was cheap. I was told $3, though in actuality no cover was charged.

* It's a place where I'm probably not going to see anyone I really want to avoid.

* Miller's was a little less than halfway between my house and a party I was planning to attend.

* I didn't have a review for the week, and as Sunday is The Dead Zone for live music, Saturday was my last chance to avoid a timely piece on my latest CD purchase, She's So Unusual, by Cindi Lauper.

The crowd at Miller's was not the usual one for a Saturday night– in place of disaffected youth sat a mixture of somewhat disaffected-mixed-with-contented middle age, who seemed to be having a jolly old time drinking the establishment's many quality alcoholic beverages and making jokes about who was going to pay the tab.

After what seemed an unusually long setup time, the mostly acoustic duo launched into their first tune, or at least I believed they did– the din in Miller's and the fact that the pair's two acoustic guitars and vocals needed a good boost made comprehension of anything besides the occasional strum impossible.

I was able to tell that the female vocalist was fine, with slight Sheryl Crow overtones, and as it was the loudest part of the song, her male counterpart could play a mean lead solo. After the table in front suggested turning everything up, things got a little better, and I was introduced to a slightly alt country, slightly pop, mostly folk band.

After changing to electric, the guitarist held notes on his fretboard with one hand and tried to get the mix right for his female cohort's pipes with his right. Even though the act was louder on this song, most of the audience had its attention elsewhere, though the few who were attending did hear some bizarre and brilliant echo-y lead work– triplets rained down from his instrument, but rather than '80s shredding, they brought to mind something in the background of an Enya song.

The group's song I found most endearing was #4, with its on-the-beat punctuation during the verse and "got that flimflam love, to get me through the night" chorus (not to mention the $10 couplet, "...playing on the radio /... three legged dog, Jethroe"). On this tune, the vocalist/guitarist seemed to lose a certain nervousness that was holding her back, and let loose with some vocal antics that would have made Houston proud.

Maybe it was the fact that the song was good, or maybe she just took a while to lighten up, but there was something in this tune that grabbed me through the evening to come.