Thursday, July 15, 2010

Boog City Presents Graceland & Hi, How Are You?, July 14, 2010

Graceland is one of my favorite albums and so I was very interested in the evening presented by Boog City last night at Sidewalk. A gaggle of your favorite Antifolk stars gathered to perform that album along with Daniel Johnston's Hi, How Are You. There were many fine interpretations of Paul Simon's songs. I particularly liked the ones like those by Dan Fishback and Jesse Schoen that went a little against the grain of the original. But there were many fine moments by Casey Holford, and The Infringers, as well as Kathy Zimmer, who I thought stood out on Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes. The Infringers rewrote The Myth of Fingerprints so that it was about the petroleum leak in the Gulf. I wasn't so sure about that approach--I thought it came across as a bit of a stretch. But hey kudos to them anyway for trying something different.

I have not yet found the intrinsic identification with Daniel Johnston that seems woven among the songwriters and performers of the Sidewalk scene, although I suspect at some point I will get around to listening to his stuff more carefully since so many people whose work I admire are fans of his. In any event, although I don't have the same points of comparison as I did to the Simon album, there were lots of nice performances by The Trouble Dolls, Bob Kerr, Steve Espinola, Preston Spurlock and The Devil and Christy Davis. Steve played his electric tennis racket on one of the songs and used a reel to reel tape recorder to form a backing track on another. Christy Davis and her pals gave a particularly spirited performance including some theatrically recited lyrics.

I was testing out my new camera the other night--one that theoretically lets me photograph in much lower light than I have been able to previously. Here's a shot of Dan Fishback, who played Gumboots and You Can Call Me Al.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Antihoot at Webster Hall - June 29, 2010

Lach and Co. have introduced some changes/refinements to the setup of the open mic at Webster Hall which very much enhance the feel of the proceedings. As nice as it is, the Marlin Room is an expansive space and initially, with the artists performing from the large stage, a sense of intimacy was missing. Now, the performances are held on the floor directly in front of the stage, and Lach has came out from the sound booth in the back to moderate from a spot up front to the left of the performers. The furniture has also been rearranged to allow for a more intimate feel. Although many of the performers are the same as those who play at Sidewalk, the Webster Hall open mic is developing some of its own in-jokes and stylistic quirks. Rob (?) the bartender was drafted by Lach for some comic interplay here and there and Julie the waitress was also a visible figure on the scene.

I've been thinking that Webster Hall is a good location for Myron the Magnificent to ply his trade. The retro vibe of the place provides a good feel for Myron's act, and I decided to give it a try the other night. Well, we all have our good and bad nights, I guess, but Myron was a little rough around the edges Tuesday. Myron's effort to sever Julie the waitress with two ropes didn't exactly go as planned and some of his other tricks were a little bumpy too. Afterward Myron entertained some folks in the side room with close-up magic and that was fun.

Lach and I were talking the other night and we briefly touched on nervousness while performing. When I first started at Sidewalk, like many folks, I guess, I would practice relentlessly in order to override the nervousness that was prevalent when I played. Now, I try to look at open mics as like a laboratory, a place to develop and work on what I'm doing. I still like things to be polished, and can't help but feel disappointed when they don't go exactly as planned, but it's much easier to look at playing these events as part of a process of getting better and developing your art rather than a be all and end all. I can't say that I don't get nervous at all, but I've definitely gotten better at being involved with the moments as they are happening on stage, rather than worrying so much about how I'm being perceived.

I kind of noticed Dan Mo for the first time the other night, even though I know he's been around for a while. Cool stuff. What he played the other night had a jazzy feel in the chords. Chloe Phillips did some funny stuff--In particular I liked her schtick about how weird people act when they run into someone in whom they have a romantic interest. She also talked about getting dumped by her "wee" boyfriend. Ray Brown's song "Last Summer" was gorgeous.