Unwittingly I participated in Lights Out LA, in which many county residents were encouraged to turn off at least one bulb between 8 and 9 p.m. Saturday, by going to the Claremont Forum from 8 to 10:30 p.m. for its first concert in its new home in the Packinghouse.
John York and Patrick Brayer, two Claremont fixtures, have performed together off and on for a decade. The duo shut down the Forum’s longtime home on College Avenue a few months ago with a concert. (Because it was lightly attended, they did a second one.) Now they opened the new Forum musically.
Some 60 of us in folding chairs packed the place. York and Brayer performed in a portion of the room decorated with two floor lamps and a rug for a homey feel, York playing acoustic guitar, Brayer alternating between acoustic guitar, mandolin, violin and pedal steel.
They traded off lead vocal duties. Brayer did originals like “Freedumb” and “She’s Pretty as Alcohol”; York covered “Walk Away, Renee” and “Highway 61 Revisited” and sang a few originals, including “The Earth is Getting Warmer,” which he co-wrote with rock oddball Kim Fowley. He quipped that Fowley has a reputation as “the Darth Vader of rock.”
The patter was friendly and warm, the musicianship sharp.
“We know there’s other things you could be doing, so it’s really cool that you’re here,” York said shortly before the final encore, a cover of “Go Now” (pertinent lyric: “We’ve already said goodbye…”).
All in all, a fun evening, and one of those small-scale community events that makes you feel plugged in. Even when the lights are supposed to be off.