Sue & Lewi Longmire at the Laurelthirst
reason to be nice
world is a bad place, a bad place, a terrible place to live, oh
but I don't want to die."
I never understood those lyrics, really, but I agree with them
I'm sure that's not the message Little Sue intends to get across
when she plays at the venerable Laurelthirst on this December Wednesday
night but, somehow, that's what I'm getting.
And no mistake: the Laurelthirst is not a bad place, or a sad place.
In fact for what it is, it's a very good place.
You'll leave smelling like a cigarette that's been butted out and
sitting in a puddle of rainwater for a few days, but now that the
'thirst is joining a list of remainders that still actually allow
smoking, it's probably a badge of courage.
Sue: coming from a very good place.
And the 'thirst is pretty much the living room for Portland's alt-country
crowd (for lack of a better term please accept my apologies)
with the likes of Little Sue and tonight's helpmate, the ubiquitous
Lewi Longmire, making it a regular showcase for their inestimable
Talent Sue's got, and dedication, too so much so that she'll
play the smoky room with a l'il roadie still cooking in the oven,
if you catch my drift.
Her repertoire is deep and long and longing, and she's got the
voice to sell it. Something like Dolly Parton with a little more
copper, a bit of Tang that keeps it from going down like Robitussin
in a raver's throat.
Sweet and melodic on a pre-holiday night when people use their
cars like weapons of hate and impotence. Soulful and swinging when
you're sitting alone or sharing a large table with an old man who
smokes, distractedly rubbing your face in a reflexive sweat, clinging
to a cola to deal with a harsh world you don't understand and can't
It's those who are eating alone at Shari's who you bounce your
image off of. Judging loneliness (real or imagined) off of your
own, which once may have been imagined but is now as real as your
But you can ease that schedule if you know where to listen. Little
Sue does well with Lewi, who has a sweet voice the high-lonesome
sound mixed with good Oregon driftwood. They are familiar enough
with one another to match harmonies onstage in a talky club.
pretty mean on any instrument he plays.
Lewi's pretty mean on guitar, too, or any other instrument he plays
though tonight it's strictly git/vox.
Strumming along and tapping his Cons, with a glance from Sue he
suddenly ascends into the reaches; simple and tasteful phrases played
with fleet fingers. It makes you forget, or start bleeding from
the heart. Either outcome would probably please Sue and Lewi.
The stage is set up like the living room where they probably practice:
couple of chairs facing slightly inward, a table with a couple drinks
on it, a floor lamp. I'd like to see them throw an easy chair and
a little cot up there, too. Make it a place you could play every
night and then go sit and read a book, or go to sleep. A real artist
Little Sue has her groupies here, even at 6:30 p.m., singing along
and waving cell phones in the air, like Cingular was hi-fidelity
But, oh man, is there a lot to do. Even though Little Sue ain't
done, and the next act is yet to follow, those of us with the weight
of the world on our shoulders gots to go.
Probably the best time, too, as the pair has dragged out a not-possible-to-be-ironic-anymore
cover of Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle with You."
It sounds good, as Monster Hits often do, while we head out the
Always good to remember we're all pretty much stuck with each other,
too. In case you need a reason to be nice.