Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Open Mic, Monday, October 27, 2008

There were a couple of things that stood out about last night's Open Mic. First, there were two songs about werewolves. One was a werewolf rap tune by Aaron Jones (with a jazzy interlude on a flute-like thing) and the other was by Isto and featured a good deal of real foaming at the mouth.

The other thing I noticed is that the night was filled with all kinds of spur-of-the-moment groups and configurations. It seemed as if just about every other performance featured a band of recently-recruited members who emerged from the basement with guitars, maracas, tambourines and whatever in hand.

Also, it was good to see a solid core of the Brooklyn Tea Party folks in tow. Dan C., Brook, and Michael David Campbell were there, plus Elizabeth Devlin, and Annie Crane and Eric Wolfson. It was also nice to see Emily Moment, who hadn't been around in a while, and Somer, and Frank Hoier.

Ben K. kicked things off with a song about sleeping caterpillars and monkeys (and babies). Aaron Jones has blonde dreadlocks and often plays with bells around his ankle. He sang a song that went "I was made to love you with my hand, you were made to love me with your hands," and then he did the werewolf rap tune, using a beat box that had all the music programmed in. Josh Fox did a couple cool tunes, including one called Stone Cold, that had a nice riff to it.

Stacy Rock played one of the only songs I've ever heard at Sidewalk based on a Eugene O'Neill play (Long Day's Journey Into Night) and Caspar Kay from Denmark played a kind of low key song called...I think..."Take a Step." Liv Carrow did one about red lentils and another that I'm pretty sure was about road kill.

Dibs. Dibs is a really cool songwriter and his songs grow on you the more you listen. They're kind of off-kilter, a little herky-jerky, but inevitably perceptive. He did one last night that I've always liked about money. It has a line in it to the effect of "it's what I use to buy my [something, something,] and toys, and it's causing me more stresses than it is joys." Sorry for the inaccurate transcription but it's a good point. He also did this song "I'm Getting So Old." Everyone thinks that they are, don't they, even when you're in your twenties?

Calli (Kali?) Did a long poem. Melissa Lusk sang a song I've heard her do before called Mack Truck. It has a nice rhythm and melody and is very catchy. She also got me and just about every other guy in the place all hot and bothered with her song "The Gift." Ask someone who was there. I've checked out some of Melissa's stuff on Myspace. There's some really good piano playing there. She definitely reflects a real jazz influence, which is pretty rare at Sidewalk (a bit surprisingly so to me).

I no longer can keep track of Dan Costello's beard status. I could have sworn that he was clean shaven about a week ago, but he appeared last night in full beard, with hat, and Richard Manuel shirt and played Tape Recorder. He started off by himself but then Brook Pridemore ambled up on stage to play along on the piano and Mike Baglivi got up and sat on a stool and displayed his own tape recorder, providing a visual illustration to the performance.

Chris and Isaac Gillespie did, "Love and War" and "Virginia" with Alex P and with Jordan Levinson. Jason Trachtenburg played...hmmm.. I think a song about how every day is somebody's birthday and then sang what he says is going to be his big hit, "I Don't Want to Tempt Time." Jason explained that since it's going to be a hit "I want to get used to playing it every night of the week for the rest of my life." I'll say one thing, it IS a damn catchy number.

Elizabeth Devlin's music seems as if it come from another era. I don't know why I say this, but it has a kind of renaissance era feel to it. One of her songs had the line "not knowing what you will do, I offer up my breast to you."

A. Fermata sang two songs on piano. Very talented dude that A. One of them was "He Takes it Out on Me."

I can't honestly say I remember too much about Stone White (my apologies Stone--too many groups and too much beer) but he played a song called "Hit the Fan."

Isaac Gillespie talked about how he came across a big black SUV and finally figured out that the celebrity it contained was ARETHA (somehow it seems appropriate to capitalize her name). In honor of her he sang 'Chain of Fools," accompanied by Alex P on guitar, Arial on banjo, Jordan Levinson, and, if I remember correctly , Isaac's brother Chris, and someone I didn't know on piano (Mike Hatchet maybe?).

Somer rocked it out. Sounded great. "Hey kid go, you're filling up the hole, all the little children love rock and roll."

Julie Hill played a sky blue ukelele..."Black and white cookie crumbling down my throat."

Maya--a first timer, played a big, shiny red electric...kind of reminded me of the guitar version of a '57 Chevy.

Isto is one of the more interesting guitar players on the scene. He played a long guitar intro to his werewolf song.

Waylon D played "I'm not gonna sleep anymore."

Speaking of not sleeping, I missed Eric Wolfson's performance, and possibly some others when I stepped out of the room for a bit.

Came back in to find Domino covering "Dock of the Bay." It was a very Dominoesque version. She also did one of her own tunes.

Joe Crow did an amazing rendition of "Tomorrow" from Annie. I am not probably alone among the Sidewalk folks in my underappreciation of that song, but Joe did an interpretation for the ages. Rather than perform the original lyrics he performed it with a sort of guttural scat singing. By the end everyone in the audience was gutturally singing along. He did sing some of the lyrics at the end, which was a nice way to wrap up his version. Speaking of covers, Joe then did an Elastic No No tune. He did an amazing job with Klaus Kinski, which is one of Justin's songs that seems to have captured people's interest.

Brook Pridemore played with Dan C and Michael David Campbell...a song about a "blue collar Indiana town"...I recall it stemmed from Brook's extended travels. Then he did King Kong (?) which got the house on its feet. Justin did Emotional Tourism and Nobody's Wife (as a duet with himself).

Going along with the theme of pulling together spur of the moment groups, I decided to do "Tower Records is Gone" with several members of the Sidewalk Cafe Gospel Choir who were in the house. Debe, Emily, Mike Baglivi, Isaac Gillespie, Joe Crow, and maybe one or two others came on stage and did an amazing job harmonizing. I must say that for a moment there the group kind of took the song in its own direction and it went a bit off the rails....all of a sudden I hear this thundering drum playing along and turned around to see Ben Krieger wacking the tom-tom. Then Mike Baglivi chimed in with a gospel chant of his own devising that he'd wanted to do the last time we did the song together. It was all in good fun, but I had to reel the song in a little bit. Anyway, it sounded great with the choir and people in the audience really seemed to like the song. I followed it up with "Do the Berger" and again, things got a bit crazy. Ben K, Joe Crow, and Isaac all helped out by coming on stage to "Do the Berger" and ended up in various stages of shirtlessness. It's frustrating in situations like this that as a piano player at Sidewalk you can't see what's happening on stage behind you while you're playing. You can only steal a quick glance or rely on what you hear happening. Even though things were on the edge of going out of control, I had a great time performing last night.

Debe sang "Dry" which she said she renamed to herself "Dry in D Minor" to help her remember how to play it. She also did one of her more beautiful songs, "Close the Door."

Back to the groups, Torn Curtain played with Arial, Jordan, Alex, Ben K on tom tom, another drummer I didn't know who had a snare, another guy, and Isaac.

Emily Moment sang a lovely song about hanging out on her neighbor's balcony. Nice to have Emily back on stage at Sidewalk.

Mike Baglivi did Debe Dalton's song Normal with backing vocals from Ariel East. Mike does a great job with this song. It's kind of amazing how he can take a Debe Dalton song and make it sound exactly like a Mike Baglivi song. Anyway, it works, and it sounded really nice with the arrangement that Mike and Ariel came up with. Ariel kind of stationed herself behind Mike and to the left (from the audience view) and it worked visually too, to have her as a background singer. On the other side of the stage Mike was able to do some of his Bagliviesque leg kicks.

Then Ariel, in her own slot, sang an a cappella song about Abilene, Texas.

Sometime around that point I headed home. It was a late one for me, so I grabbed a cab rather than do my usual bus to the train thing.

Very much a fun night. It was a bit wacky with all these groups assembling and rearranging themselves throughout the night, but that's part of the joy of Sidewalk, the chance to make music with friends. On nights like these it is the warmest and loveliest of places.


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