Summer around here is chockablock with opportunities to hear live music outdoors, but because afternoon thunderstorms have equal claim to the calendar, local bands don't always get to play when or where they think they're going to. Such was the case last Thursday evening, when a fine quintet called the Gravy Boys was unceremoniously booted from an all-too-exposed stage under the "Lucky Strike" tower in Durham by a driving rain. I saw the sound crew and event managers scurrying to tie tarps over speakers, and assumed that the show would have to be rescheduled. Happily, I hadn't reckoned on the band's willingness to "improvise, adapt, and overcome."
What the Gravy Boys did was move about a hundred yards from the unusable stage to set up shop under the covered arcade that links two long brick buildings in the American Tobacco complex. They pushed chairs aside and played "unplugged" for appreciative fans in a show that ended up being more intimate,and possibly more enthusiastic, than the amplified gig would have been.
The band couldn't compete with the sound of rainwater or thunder, but fans skooched close to hear the boys give it their best shot. The Durham Bulls were on a rain delay nearby. Although Mother Nature managed to halt baseball, she was a little more forgiving with "Gravy Nation." Everybody enjoyed the makeshift show so much that the band actually played two encores.
It's great when professionalism and grit also turns out to be fun.