July 14, 2011

Professor Java's Wide Open Mic, July 11

Wide open, as in music, poetry, comedy, whatever can easily be performed in the limited space in the side room of Professor Java's coffee house on Wolf Rd. Frankly, I go to hear the poets. One of the reasons we have such an active poetry open mic scene here in the Albany area is that many (many) years ago poetry was the smelly step-child barely tolerated at (some) music open mics in town, so we built our own scene to showcase poetry without guitars. But it is nice to mix it up now & again.

At one point our host, Keith Spencer, mentioned that I don't often write about the music performers on my Blog. That's true, but not because I don't like music -- I happen to listen to & enjoy most types of music. & to the current scene's credit there is more variety in the music performed at open mics now than what I experienced years ago, where the first poem-length part of the performance was tuning up (not always successfully), then still another in a long string of "I'm going down that lonesome road" folk songs. But the reason I don't write as much about the musical performances is that I don't know that much about music & I don't always recognize the covers some performers are attempting, but mostly, poetry is my main, over-riding interest (next to stopping war).

That said, I would like to point out tonight's favorites, in no particular order.

I'm toying with the idea of how to apply bringing 2 guitars to a music open mic, as Greg Guba does, to poetry events -- bring 2 notebooks, do a wardrobe change, use different mics?  But then I've already done all that at one time or another. Greg always does a piece on his resonator guitar (not a Dobro -- I get it), & other songs on another guitar. I liked his cover of "Can't Find My Way Back Home" from the Blind Faith album with a freckled, nubile girl with pink nipples on the cover, an LP I bought for the cover many years ago, & grew to love the music.

Back again was Dwight, this time with his daughter Kendra, so it was "Dwight & Kendra" tonight, with another moving poem, beautifully put together with voice & guitar, about 4 Viet Nam vets -- good, simple lyrics; & in a nod to a poem I had done earlier, he began by reciting a poem, "Marriage."

& I liked "new guy" Herb Carter, Jr. & the big sound of his 12-string guitar (but it does take twice as much time to tune). Recognized his first song cover, but damned if I could tell you who it was, one of those '60s/'70s hippy bands, I think, then a good love song original, & another cover by a new group, "Head & Heart."

Other music performers included the return of the duo "The Midnight Society," using a "Stylophone" on one of their pieces; Seattle-angst rocker Alex Rohr; "The Normanskill Saxons" with 4 players tonight ("all 3 songs have never been performed by all 4 of us");
Shannon, who is usually hanging out in the audience, did a cover & an original; Mark Hecker strummed through 3 cover songs about father/son relations; & John Veith did instrumentals until he thought his time was up.  (& another thing, why do so many singers ape those false Southern accents? Leonard Cohen doesn't try to sing like Willy Nelson (& the other way around))

There were only a handful of us spoken word folks tonight & not very spread out in the program. I was first up with 3 Summertime poems, the recent "Imagining the Mews" & the older poems "Park Fantasy" & "Cutting the Lawn for the Ex." Carol Jewell is not at all intimidated by Keith & keeps cranking out those pantoums, this one on anger. Later in the night Avery also did just 1 poem, a piece about being at a drum weekend, sounding a lot like advertising copy with drum sounds, "A Composition for the Rhythm Section." Joe Krausman had trio of his funny/serious ponderings, "Specialist," "Internal Medicine" (actually about brain surgery & the little men inside our heads), & the cat poem (!) "Cat."

The 2nd Monday of each month, bring your notebooks, bring your guitars, harmonicas, keyboards, Style-o-phones, string bass, ukelele, saxophone, mandolin -- pretty soon there will be so much equipment we won't be able to move.

No comments: