About 100 people came out to see Ball play a set from his new album Who Goes There, an informal afternoon show after a grander night the evening before at the Red Devil Lounge. Self-described “wimpycore” musician Buddy opened with a sweet set infused with tales of girls gone wrong and longing. All of this musicianship occured on a small deck extending out from the guest cottage on the winery’s property. Artists often spend the weekend there when performing; on other days, it acts as the Green Room. On this day, it offered extra space for the crowd to gather in when Ball invited—OK, demanded, it was his birthday after all—that we all join him on the deck. Balancing over the drummer and his kit, I held myself unsteadily upright as we all sang the refrain of his last song’s chorus and then ripped “Happy Birthday” to happy atonal shreds.
This was the last of the Live from the Middle Reach series that C. Donatiello launched this year. The “middle reach” is not, as I have erroneously assumed for the entire summer, some Tolkien reference. Rather, it’s the section of the Russian River Valley appellation where the winery is located. Most of these Sunday afternoon shows are free; a few, ticketed. This? Superb.