School night

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_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

Somewhere between the crust of ice that lay atop the city all week, the barren trees that looked like streaks of black ink against the smothering ash-gray sky and an ungodly wind that seemed as it blew to strip me of my very essence, a bout of seasonal depression began to set in.

Is it just me, or does February take forever?

I stayed in the house for days, leaving only for meetings, work-related events and quick trips to the porch for as many drags off cigarettes as I could pull before my fingers went numb. I worked the phone and the laptop from the kitchen table, my back to the window. So help me, I almost put on the sweatpants.

But then Sunday came with a balmy blast of what’s to come, a quick glimpse of spring. I knew it wouldn’t last — like those drunks I used to throw out of the bar, sometimes winter in North Carolina comes back for an encore.

After sunset I find myself in Lindley Park listening to steel strings and soft basslines of Alan Peterson and his band, who are wedged into the corner of Common Grounds. Peterson, a reformed pianist, finished his new album California to Carolina in Greensboro, and he’s decided to stick around awhile.

With him on dobro is Alex McKinney, formerly of Athenaeum, and Jordan Powers, once the bassist for House of Fools. Together they make road-seasoned Americana as the house fills with neighborhood folks, most with a few miles on them as well. They come for the wine and the coffee in this little corner, and because they don’t want to just stay home and watch TV.

“It’s so nice to play a room where everybody is just listening to the music,” Peterson remarks.

He dedicates one from the new album, “Survivor,” to the city’s music scene, “of which,” he says, “I’ve recently become a part.”

Powers’ former Fools bandmate Josh King is here, as is guitarist Marcus Horth, currently with Doby, and Patrick Rock over at a booth by the door. Even the Walrus, Ray Loughran, is here, making it a full cohort of the old-school crew.

When Peterson sings, “It’s a game they say we’ll never win/ In the morning we’re back at the tables again,” they know what he’s talking about.