Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Open Mic, Monday November 24, 2008

Brian K. opened with a long intro. He kept trying to wind up his spiel in order to start the show, but would then get off on a tangent until Brian literally brought the lights down on him. It was pretty funny. I do remember that as part of his opening talk Ben relived the evidently traumatic moment when his dad explained to him "what gay was."

I'm so used to seeing Ariel Bitran in the many groups for which he accompanies on guitar, that I realized I wasn't all that familiar with his own solo stuff. He surprised me with a kind of Carl Perkins/Robert Goulet/Adam Green voice (Adam Green on his solo records, that is). He played a song called (maybe) "The Opportunity is Lost" and then one from his series based on the Legend of Zelda. You know I do my best to stay current, but I must admit that I haven't yet gotten too hooked on the video games that the kids seem to love. The Legend of Zelda definitely has passed me by, so I wasn't too able to identify with Ariel's song about that world. But I'm sure for those who are captivated by Zelda it was a rich experience. I did like the mouth clicking that Ariel did in the intro to the song.

Brook Pridemore played a song that made us all think he was in dire straights. It had lines like "I don't want to live in this world anymore." I was a bit concerned until he explained that he wrote it when he was 20 and that it represented an earlier, unhappier Brook. 

Phoebe did a song from her Gilgamesh musical, which is closing out her weekly Tuesday residency at Sidewalk. It's a song all about Inky Dinky. I'll admit that since I'm writing this up a couple days late, I already saw Phoebe's musical and the Inky song makes a bit more sense than it did the other night at the Open Mic, but it has some of Phoebe's usual clever, intricate word play in lines like "Inky Dinky do that thing you know you inky do." Phoebe also did a funny song that she said she wrote while leaving Pianos about being in a "Horrible Mood."

Benjamin from Denmark played acoustic guitar, accompanied by his friend on double bass. He explained that although they were from Denmark, his friend had just bought the bass in the U. S. They did some nice jazzy stuff with scat singing and everything. It was cool.

Liv Carrow played a song that had a line something like "How I longed for an itty bitty star all my own." I didn't catch all the imagery, but it was a cool song and I hope to hear it again soon. She also played her song about going to the psychic, Madam Rosa, which is another nice one.

Jon Berger set his laptop on the stool and pointed a microphone at it and everyone started murmuring that he was going to play some electronic Berger Beats to accompany his poems. But---psych--no he picked up the laptop and read from it. Jon talked about how he started a swear jar at work and then Brian Speaker kind of stepped on Berger's joke about it (which was to then read a poem filled with cursing). As far as I'm concerned swearing is a legitimate form of expression that all should employ when it can be effective, but evidently in Jon's workplace there's too much of it going on. Jon stepped into the audience to perform his final poem about Jesus and urged Susan Hwang to come on stage since she was next up. In what I thought was a lovely exchange, Susan began interpreting Jon's poem in a kind of pantomime. Then when it was her turn to play, Susan called Jon up to offer some of his dance moves as accompaniment to Susan's music. So it was sort of a mutual exchange of movement between Susan and Jon. 

Susan did two songs, including one of her zombie songs. I usually have to hear her things a few times until they sink in, but as I've said before I often am truly amazed by what she comes up with, both in terms of her melodies which are unusual and interesting, and her lyrics, some of which are mindblowing. Oh, the second song was one in which she said that Tom's sister had challenged her to write something positive. I think it was called "Be Yourself."

Waylon, played a catchy, rhythnic song that accelerated in tempo as he played it. 

Abba Confusion consisted of two English guys. I think these were the folks who said that they'd come to the U. S. with the intention of starting a band in two weeks. Evidently when they've announced this from the stage at various open mics, people have come up to sit in right then and there, but they seem less interested in that than in finding a group of people to form a real band with. The guy was kind of down on the whole idea of people sitting in, but folks did it anyway---including some guy who practically swiped a tambourine out of Brook Pridemore's hand, only to get on stage and prove himself the worst tambourine player ever to have hit the Sidewalk and possibly New York City and the world. Brian Speaker appropriately heckled him in multiple ways once the song ended.

Joanna Kelly played a song with Beau Johnson accompanying on electric. Brook took the tambourine this time and showed 'em how it's done. Joanna's song sounded kind of like an old countryish folk tune..."rock me momma like a wagon wheel, rock me momma any way you feel."

Faceometer consisted of one of the guys from Abba Confusion and he played a long song about the toilet where Thom Yorke evidently wrote Creep. The guy's song was kind of interesting, although maybe a bit too long, but even though he was English he sang it in this weird faux American accent. He even apologized for that at one point, but it was strange. I guess I wasn't really offended, but I think one could have been if one were the sensitive type.

Brief View of the Hudson did some nice gospel-y, southern-influenced stuff. I am more impressed by them the more I hear them. One of the songs they sang was "Stay Out of My Coal Mine."

Joff Wilson played with a friend who I think he introduced as Kenny K. Hurricane, on bass. Joff was wearing glasses and had more of a John Lennon, 1960s, hippy look about him than his usual 1970s Joey Ramone style. He sang a catchy song called "Color Me Rochester Grey," and then went back to "When the War is Over."

Jon Telethon was up (playing solo) with a relationship song....might have been a new one, since I don't remember hearing it before..."You been thinking lately that I'm losing my mind....I can't unhinge my love." He also sang his classic "Truck Drivin Man.

Debe sang "Normal." Gorgeous as usual. She also did "Pack Up Your Sorrows," one of her favorite covers, which I hadn't heard in a while. 

Jason Trachtenberg was back with "Everybody Loves the Clown." 

Although it was still early in the evening, I was offered a car ride home and decided to grab it, considering the rain and the cold. So, I'm sorry I wasn't able to catch more acts. It was a fun night up to the point that I left and I'm assuming that the spirit continued late into the night.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.



  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    Herb, you should start reviewing CDs that come out on the scene. It would be another great way to catalog whats actually happening on the scene through this great blog.

    My first song didn't really have a title, and I'm still debating. It's tentatively "Madison Avenue" since I wrote the melody and words to the chorus in my head there. but I dont mind "The Opportunity is Lost" either.

    Thanks for writing about a fun night.

  2. I second that! Herb, you should write reviews.

    I should start coming back to Sidewalk more often.

  3. Thanks guys for the comments and suggestion. Raises a bunch of considerations...I will discuss with you next time I see you at Sidewalk.