It was our first visit to the Soundry, and it was a big gift from me to me, although I dragged two teens along for company. I’m happy to report that they enjoyed it.
If you’ve already been to the Soundry then you already know what they have done with the space. The old brightly-painted walls of the Tomato Palace are gone. Replacing them is a vibe that is both comfortable and elegant. The overall color scheme is red and black and, while we were there, the lights were low so it felt warm and cozy. There’s a bit of an ombré pink glow from the backlit bar area. I liked it.
No, they do not have Garlic Knots on the menu. If you want a surge of nostalgia you should visit the restrooms, where you’ll be treated to the familiar walk down the circus hallway. That should help restore any old Columbia Lakefront feelings you might be yearning for.
As to the menu, it’s a tad precious for me. Perhaps it will evolve. I will say that the service was flawless from the moment we sat down at the table. They’ve worked out a visual cue system that allows you to signal for assistance and it really works. Our server also stopped by periodically just to check in and see if we needed anything. But it was all done quietly so as not to interfere with the performance experience.
Many of us own the major holiday movies on DVD or can easily stream them so you may wonder why anyone would pay good money to see one. I’m admittedly deeply prejudiced in its favor, but, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is truly enhanced by the full screen, movie theatre experience. Plus, it’s fun to hear people around you enjoying all the good bits that you’ve loved for years.
Shared experiences. You just can’t beat them.
In presenting the (now clearly proven to be ) timeless jazz score of the film, The Eric Byrd Trio did not disappoint. This was a true live jazz performance, not merely a studied recreation of a prerecorded score. The players were each brilliant unto themselves, with a gift for working together and riffing off eachother in a way that just makes you shake your head in wonder. Or gasp. Or laugh out loud. They rocked it.
There was additionally the delicious treat of hearing Mr. Byrd’s two sons join him on “Christmas Time is Here.” At ten and twelve most of us weren’t playing jazz clubs. These two young men did their father proud. Their demeanor was rather serious, though. I do hope they were enjoying the song as much as the audience was.
I do have one complaint. And, as a musician, I can’t let this one pass by. At no time did Mr. Byrd utter these two words:
Without Vince Guardaldi’s tradition-shattering jazz score, and without Charles Schulz’s commitment to pair his animation and message with Mr. Guaraldi’s work, none of us would have been there last night. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” continues to be enjoyable and relevant because it contains a variety of choices that make the whole bigger than the sum of its parts. Vince Guaraldi’s name is worth mentioning from the stage: last night and every time that music is played.
Overall I have nothing but praise for last night’s experience. We’d definitely go again. I hope that the Soundry folks will throw in a few other family-friendly events here and there throughout the year.
Oh, and the teens want Dodie Clark. Please get on that ASAP.