Aimee Mann and Ted Leo at the Rio in Santa Cruz

Aimee MannJust because Aimee Mann is an Oscar-nominated singer / songwriter doesn’t mean that acting is her forte. It’s great that people want to reach out, explore, and you see it in so many occupations. Well, I can do manicures, so what can go wrong if I try cutting hair? Or, I can put together mortgage loans, so why not try selling homes as well? Generally, if you’re really good at what you do it’s because that’s what you should be doing. It’s even better if you love your job.

Still, Aimee Mann put together an entertaining, if not often downright silly and goofy, Christmas show in Santa Cruz last night. She played with Ted Leo, from her new band, The Both. We had front row seats, at the end of the stage directly below Aimee Mann. The last time we were that close to the stage to see Aimee Mann was about 15 year ago in Minneapolis at the Guthrie Theater, the night we were so rushed to get to the show that we forgot we had left a squirrel in our trunk.

Santa Cruz from Hotel

Pier at Santa Cruz

You know that can happen, right? You’re in the throes of the official Squirrel Relocation Program, which involves capturing squirrels in a safety trap. They wander inside in hopes of scoring a wad of peanut butter and whammo, the door locks behind them. They are not harmed, but they can’t get out. Then, hopefully you’ve spotted the furry creature in the trap before it has a) frozen to death in subzero temperatures during the winter or b) fried in the hot summer sun, and transported the thing to a different environment.

We either took the squirrels to Lake of the Isles or over the river in Saint Paul and let them go. One year, I kept track of the marks on my calendar, and I had relocated at least 36 squirrels. Why would we do this? Because they ate our garden vegetables and threw tomatoes at the house. Yeah, they would take a big bite out of a lovely black tomato and then throw the rest of it at the house. It would be different if they ate the whole thing, but they wasted all that food.

And that particular night, we were sitting with our feet up on the stage at the Guthrie, listening to Aimee Mann and Michael Penn do that song about the end of the telescope when it dawned on me, shoot, we forgot to release the squirrel. I whispered my sudden realization to my husband. Squirrels are not quiet. They make awful growly sounds when people walk by the car. Just picturing the reaction of Aimee Mann concertgoers walking by our car and hearing this weirdly mean growl from our trunk was enough to send us into fits of uncontrollable laughter.

So, Aimee Mann, if you remember that night at the Guthrie Theater, we were not laughing at you guys. But then, we weren’t really doing it last night either, and I don’t think that was her intention. It was supposed to be a comedy show. Aimee Mann should just stick to singing. No stupid Santa Claus murders. It’s one of those things that probably works better in concept than on stage. I say this with all due respect as she is my favorite singer / songwriter.

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