I've been receiving frequent messages from a Mr. Steve Rogers, urging me to attend events at Webster Hall, including the Tuesday, Antihoot run by Lach. Mr. Rogers is a pretty persuasive guy, so I turned out on Tuesday to see what the hubbub was about. Actually, this was my second visit, truth be told, after checking out the Antihoot's new location on its very first night in back in March.
When I arrived, Talia was playing--the same young Talia I'd noticed at the Open Mic at Sidewalk the night before. Talia's songs often are about the emotional currents stirred up by the guys in her life (or at least the ones she has crushes on) or by conflicts with her classmates in school. I've got to give Talia credit for having the drive to write songs and find places to perform them. Plunging headlong into this stuff at an early age means that she will have more opportunity to learn and develop her writing and generally to find a path into music if she decides that's what she wants. And what better way to do it than hanging out at late-night songwriting joints!
Next up was a group called Now (if I'm not mistaken) a duo with a quite lithesome young lady and a guy singing a heavily pop-flavored tune to a rhythm track.
Mike Rechner played two songs from his Churchill Downs project. Mike's songs always seem heavily influenced by Lou Reed to me--spare and somehow bringing out feelings of alienation. Cool stuff.
Morgan Heringer played a couple nice tunes...she referred to standard ukulele position--one leg on a chair, elbow on the raised thigh, holding the angled up ukulele.
The Gentleman Scumbag was up next with funny stuff about his job as a dirty balloon maker at Lucky Cheng's. I particularly liked the story about the father who insisted that John make a particularly profane balloon sculpture for the man's 15 year-old daughter.
Emily Moment was on hand with accompaniment from a friend on guitar. The songs seemed to have kind of a country-flavored pop feel . Emily's vocals stand out more each time I hear her play.
Joie Blaney was a fixture for years at Sidewalk's Open Mic before moving to L. A. a couple years ago. It was nice to see him back in town for a visit. Joie played some new songs, including one about the bygone days of Sweet Bohemia.
Dave Woodcock, a very versatile performer who I gather is visiting from England, displayed some virtuosic technique with a song on piano about how "life ain't worth a damn" and then turned to guitar for a much gentler song called Gretna Green. Very nice.
The Scufz is a retro-flavored act with a guy on washboard/percussion, a fellow on guitar and vocals and another on washtub bass. The guitarist seemed to be pulling most of the weight musically and had some nice jazzy chords to fill out their sound. In the middle of the set a scantily clad gal appeared with a megaphone to pick up the vocals and added further retro-style with "voidio-do, voidio-do" lyrics. She then surprised us by whisking off her short dress to reveal an even scantier costume underneath.
Lenny Molotov played and JJ Hayes did a song about Killing the Buddha.
One of the things I've noticed about the Merlin Room at Webster Hall is that it provides a much more sophisticated range of atmospheric devices for Lach to play with. The whirling stage lights are one thing but I jumped every time I heard the smoke machine hiss on.
The Merlin Room is a gorgeous space and is a great place for anyone who has wanted to play on a larger stage in amuch more polished setting than Sidewalk. Although it probably had as many people in attendance the other night as Sidewalk's open mic usually does, the large room made it seem more sparsely attended. But with Steve Rogers on the case I'm sure that will soon be a thing of the past.
After I headed out from Webster Hall, intending to catch the train home--I ran into Crazy and the Brains and friends who were heading over to Sidewalk to hear Diane Cluck. Diane's songs are gentle and elegant. They require intent listening but it pays off. In particular, a requested song, Macy's Day Bird struck me as ravishing. One of the reasons to hang out in this scene is for the times when you unexpectedly encounter moments of powerful artistry. Thanks to Crazy and Co. for tipping me off to Diane's show which was a nice way to finish off the night.