Sunday, September 21, 2008


This blog is about the community of artists centered around Sidewalk Cafe in New York. It remains to be seen exactly how that will be defined, since there are so many threads and extensions of that group, but the idea is to create a place to document the Monday night Open Mics and other activities within the community. I intend to write as much as I can based on my own attendance at the Open Mic and other events, but I hope that others will pipe in also and add details and perspectives. This is not meant to supersede other sources like Ben Krieger's official site or message boards, particularly, which is a great source for community interaction, but to create a place for more detailed journal-like entries about what's happening. I'll also probably at times muse about stuff that is on my mind, particularly as it relates to music and what's going on in the world of Sidewalk.

So anyway, last night I played with Elastic No-No Band at Pianos as part of a great bill made up largely of artists connected to Sidewalk Cafe. The interesting thing is that the groups came from a variety of eras, and although the connection to Sidewalk seemed to be a unifying thread, there were groups that I'd never had much exposure to. For example, I had the chance to hear Ish Marquez for the first time, who I'd read a lot about on the OJ board and elsewhere, and I was really glad I did. I found the sound a bit troubling at Pianos upstairs, but I got a sense of why everyone is so interested in Ish. His music really mixes a variety of interesting sounds--I was surprised how influenced he is by reggae. Plus his voice is great and he did some really uninhibited vocalizing. I hope to hear him again sometime when I can have a better opportunity to absorb his lyrics.

Shilpa Ray and the Happy Hookers preceded Elastic No-No. Shilpa was accompanied by Andrew Hoepfner on a small Casio keyboard and a drummer I didn't know. I've always loved Shilpa since I saw her play at Sidewalk around the first time I started going there in 2004. She played a laid back set at Pianos, but it was nice. There is something utterly charismatic about her.

It was hard to tell from my position on stage how the Elastic No-No set went. It felt like lots of people in the crowd were talking rather than listening, but I get the sense that at least a small group was paying attention. It's always a problem for me to play a club that doesn't have a piano, and this time I borrowed a Casio from Major Matt (thanks Matt). He definitely saved the day for me on that one, but based on the wisecracks from my bandmates, the sound of the Casio left a little to be desired. I probably could have gotten a better sound if I'd had time to play around with it, but anyway, it seems as if the moment is here for me to buy something portable that sounds good for situations like that. Anyone got any recommendations for a good-sounding keyboard that can be transported relatively easily? Dan C. suggested a Roland synthesizer that he uses. 

I didn't make it to hear any of the bands playing in Pianos's downstairs room. The place got really crowded with people out for a good Saturday night and I all of a sudden felt like getting out of there. But Creaky Boards played (overlapping with Ish's set) as did SpaceKamp, a group that I learned is headed by Steven Mertens and features Adam Green. I was not familiar with the other groups on the bill--Black Whales and Tereu Tereu. I know that Andrew H. is a big supporter of Drink Up Buttercup, another group I hope to hear at some point. I was sorry I missed Ching Chong Song, who played before us upstairs and then left for a gig in Connecticut--but I was busy picking up my borrowed keyboard at that time.

Friends and folks in attendance who I noticed included Brian Speaker, Jen and Uchenna of The Fools, Jon Berger, Bernard King, Deenah Moffie, the folks from Brief View of the Hudson (I think), J. J. Hayes and Jeannie, plus Dan Costello, Michael Campbell and Darwin Deez (all of whom I believe were playing with Creaky Boards), and Octavio, Dan Fishback, Angela, and others who I am probably forgetting or didn't run into.

On the way home, in the subway, I ran into Christopher (Horizo Bopdittle) who was heading to a party at Feral Foster's. We are the world, aren't we?

That'll wrap it up for now. Honestly I never thought I'd start a blog, but I was in this "New Media" workshop recently, part of which involved creating an account for one. So I already had the blog set up, and all of a sudden it seemed the thing to do. I really do hope that others will add to this, so if you have something relevant to say, please chime in.



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