This is part of a series of reviews of bands who play weekly at local bars.
The show: RJ and Diane at the American Legion Post #44 in Old Town Scottsdale.
The look: Classic southwestern Americana.
The smell: Red meat and vegetables cooked with lots of butter.
The taste: Home cookin'.
Three words/phrases to describe the night: Friendly, iconic, two-step.
Who to bring with you: Your parents, or some friends who wouldn't mind some old-time music and conversations with a few regulars.
Drink of the night: Longneck bottle of domestic beer.
Part of checking out new bar bands every week is venturing outside of my own comfort zone in order to get a thorough understanding of exactly what's out there. This week I decided to visit the American Legion for one of their regular ensembles, the husband and wife team of RJ and Diane.
The American Legion holds a place in the American culture as a symbol of old-fashioned community. Post #44 was no exception. It was filled with couples and groups of friends who all seemed to know one another, as well as the staff. Though the club is private, it's open to everyone for dinner. However, if you want a libation, you have to have a member to sponsor you. The nice thing is that people are so warm and welcoming, you'll likely be able to find one at the bar willing to vouch for you for the night.
The 61 and 71 year old singers didn't have a band. They essentially had a karaoke machine and microphone. And as any music lover would tell you, this doesn't bode well. However, the pair actually had beautifully endearing voices. They sang the likes of Merle Haggard and Patsy Cline, and even threw in an Eagles tune and a Lady Antebellum cover. During their rendition of "Okie From Muskogee," RJ cleverly changed the lyrics to, "We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy/like the hippies in Apache Junction do."
As I've mentioned before, one of the most awkward parts of going into a "regular" night somewhere is that you stand apart as being out of place. Since the average age of those in attendance was probably at least 40 years older than me, this was especially true. But this time, it didn't matter so much. When she wasn't singing, Diane with her big country-esque black updo and wide smile meandered right up to my table to introduce herself. I also got acquainted with the waitress, and the manager/chef.
Older couples graced the wooden dance floor, doing their best two-step, and enjoying the old-timey songs. There whole night radiated something incredibly sweet and genuine. And though it was a shame that the singers didn't have a backup band, if they did they could easily be booked at a number of venues around town. Who'd have thought the American Legion would be bumpin' on Wednesday night?