Brian Speaker filled in for Ben at the Open Mic last night. Unfortunately I had to leave pretty early, but Brian was doing a great job at the point I left.
Dan Costello and Somer Bingham were also on hand to help out and I was chatting with them during sign up. I hadn't seen them around all that often recently and it was nice to catch up a bit. We were joking around that there should be more impregnation going on among the Sidewalk crew. Somer and I are planning on having a child named Cyclone, it seems.
We were also talking about how some of the group we'd all come to know together was hanging out at Sidewalk less frequently and how there were new faces on the scene. This cycle is an inevitable part of the fabric of Sidewalk, but it has been particularly noticeable to me lately that I've been seeing much less of the cohort of people I've been used to hanging out with...Frank Hoier, Eric Wolfson, Andrew Hoepfner, Lach (!), Ben Godwin, Vin, Dan, Somer, Dan Penta, Erin Regan, and many others. There still is a regular crew of us...Debe, Jon Berger, Justin Remer, Brian, Mike Baglivi, The Telethons, etc. who are there frequently. And I've been glad to get to know a lot of new folks as well. Jon Berger, who has been hanging out at Sidewalk since the 1990s, has said frequently that everyone always looks back and thinks that their time is the best, but that the place keeps rejuvenating . I think this is true, but I also can't help but miss the time when I was first swept up in the incredible, vivacious energy of the place. It was acts like Phoebe Kreutz, Dibs, and Creaky Boards who I remember from the first time I went to Sidewalk and convinced me I would feel at home there. I also remember the foot-stomping energy of folks like Eric Wolfson, Ben Godwin, and Dan Costello, who were such a presence for a few years after I started coming regularly. I think there are many other names I would include in this list too, if I were to take out an old Urban Folk or something to job my memory, but you get the idea.
OK, so much for the nostalgia trip--I'm sure there will be more of those--, like I said, I was sorry I could only hang out for an hour or so last night. Brian Speaker kicked things off with a couple of songs of his "The Alchemist" and "The Bird." Debe Dalton played "When the Walls Came Tumblin' Down" and explained that she'd asked Pete Seeger if he knew any additional verses to the song and he said, no and that she should make some up...and she must have heeded his advice since she then she sang a verse that mentioned Sidewalk Cafe. Debe also explained that she was inspired by David Blaine's recent stunt hanging upside down for 60 hours or whatever it was and said that she plans on her own endurance stunt, busking for 24 hours straight in the subway.....and she's going to start training soon. Debe also played one of her most beautiful songs, "At the End of the Day."
Joe Bendik did a Bendik-esque rendition of "Home Sweet Home," as a warm up to a show he was invited to play elsewhere where everyone is doing that song in their own style. Nice job Joe. Rachel Leah (Lia?) sang a couple songs that were intriguing--with some interesting rhythmic ideas going on there as I remember. The fishnet stockings didn't hurt. She seems like someone who could do well by continuing to play the Open Mic as a way of working out her stuff.
I was really glad to come across Monica from Norway. This is the kind of act that comes out of nowhere that you wait around to see at Sidewalk. I can't really say what it was about her that was so much fun. Her songs were totally wacky. She said something like "I only know one song" but then she played two songs...They were sort of little ditties really. The first one was something like "When I was a little Girl." She explained that although she was from Norway, she studied in London, which was why she had an English accent. And her teacher was always taking her to Camden...or something like that, so she sang a song "It's A Long Way to Camden Town," but then there ended up being this part about apples and polar bears. My memory gets foggier all the time, and her whole presentation was a little disjointed anyway, but I really liked Monica from Norway....hope she comes back.
Jon Berger was entering as I was leaving and I said a quick hello...that dude really can sweat. I hung out front with....I think it was Brook Pridemore and Jon XXXX (redacted by request)...before dashing off for the bus.