Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ruby Red's and a Whiter Shade of Pale

The Hollywood family had a bona fide day off yesterday! We ate lunch at Ruby Red's, a local hamburger joint on the West Bank. It's a local institution, a place where the owners have worked in the place for more than 40 years.

An older father and son team were dining at a table near us, and explained to the waitress (whom I suspect is also one of the owners) that they now live in Arkansas, but had eaten at Ruby Red's on a Friday night some 20 years ago. The waitress explained that she has worked (nearly without exception) every Friday night at Ruby Red's for some 23 years straight, and in all likelihood had been their waitress on that prior occasion.

The burgers are top-quality steak, grilled on charcoal. The service is snappy and friendly, a little on the sassy side, and on the ball. Without a hint of arrogance, there is great pride in what they do and confidence in the quality of their food. The atmosphere is relaxed. There is no menu (the options are posted on the wall with very little description).

The floor is covered with peanut shells, and there is a jukebox in the corner.

While we were enjoying our repast, Procol Harum's 1967 anthem "A Whiter Shade of Pale" came on. It was simply perfect for the ambiance: a British band with a grammatically-erroneous Latin name singing a beautifully lyrical ballad with both the unmistakable hint of New Orleans blues and the dreamy fluidity of an organ chanting a soft but unmistakable tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach. The tune is also of the same era as the beginning of the restaurant.

Above is a 2008 performance of Procul Harum. And along with being considered pioneers of "prog-rock," the band also produced a delightfully dated 1967 music video of "A Whiter Shade of Pale," predating MTV by 14 years - an eternity in the world of pop music.

I recommend both Procul Harum and Ruby Red's. Our waitress is absolutely right: we will be back again.


Jon M. Ellingworth said...

What a great song! And a fine live recording and video too! I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit it, but that was Lisa's and my "first dance" music on the day of our wedding in 1991. I've been in a "prog-rock" frame of mind lately, listening to a lot of Yes, King Crimson, Asia, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. I think I'll add a little Procol Harum into the mix. Thanks for sharing!

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jon:

There are far worse songs you could have selected! I kind of feel sorry for young people today whose options are a little more slim that we had.

Ditto on the prog-rock. Who (besides Tra$ha, Lady Gag-me, and "Justine" Bieber) says pop music has to be shallow and devoid of musicality? I guess we're old now, Jon. I think we might be about ten years from "Get off my lawn" eligibility.

Thanks for weighing in! You and the family should come visit us in NOLA one of these days. The first weekend in October, just a half block from my front door, we have an annual music festival (Gretna Heritage Fest) that features some 7 or 8 stages and well over 100,000 of my closest friends.