April 17, 2010

Professor Java's Wide Open Mic, April 12

This was the 2nd gathering of this new series at Professor Java's on Wolf Rd. in Albany, NY. Its host is Keith Spencer & it's "wide open" because they let folks with guitars (tuned or not) join in. I usually have an aversion to these open mics because 1) there are plenty of music open mics around; 2) the musicians always play longer than the poets read (I like equity); 3) too much time is wasted tuning up; & 4) how many "heading down that lonesome road" songs can you listen to at once? But this wasn't bad -- & 3) & 4) didn't happen. & I was there to support my friend Keith & a new venue for poets. There was even one singer I thought was really good (see below).

Since even the musicians don't like to be #1 on the sign-up sheet, once again I was the first to read, starting with "Coffee House Rant" because that's where we were, then with "The Lilacs" to show off the new anthology it's in. I was followed by a solo electric bass-player, Dan Sales, improvising a couple of pieces.

Then one of my favorite poets (whom I haven't seen out in a while), Jan Tramontano, with a new piece "In the Music, Voices, Piano."

Josh McIntyre did 2 short poems I've enjoyed before "In Tune" & "Radio."  Greg Guba, who also plays solo gigs around, did a couple of Eric Clapton tunes, one from the Blind Faith album (one of my personal favs), then another when Eric was Derrick & the Dominoes. Jason Butchkoff said his long piece, a letter from Icarus, was the first poem he had written in a long time. Sometimes an open mic can sound like an evening at group therapy, & that's what Joyananda's "letters written & never sent" sounded like -- hope it helped.

The next singer/song-writer was Carolyn Brown with a tune by Jewel, then one of her own songs, "Through the Mud," about over-coming difficulties. Coincidentally, the next poet was named Carol Jewell, with 2 intriguing poems, the inventory of a "Junk Drawer" & "I've Heard that Song Before." Mary Panza really likes Keith's "Elvis mic", into which she breathed "Hit Forward" & one of my favs, "Fuck the Giving Tree."

Erin Powers was the night's singer that impressed me the most, a big voice in a small body, with 2 originals, "Miss Misfit" & "It's a Dark NIght" wrapped around her version of the Jefferson Airplane's "Don't You Want Somebody to Love" -- I'd definitely pay to listen to her again. D. Colin is a young poet organizing a new series at the Center Galleries in Albany; she began with a moving piece about Haiti, a poem beginning & ending with a song, then "Before Translation." Ed Rinaldi's poems are short, & he too had an Icarus poem, "The Nose (or was that "No's"?) of Icarus" where the character swims rather than flies, then a tender love poem, & ended the night with his part of a collaborative poem, "Sharp-Winged Nymphs."

Check this out on the second Monday of each month at Professor Java's on Wolf Rd. in Colonie, NY, 8PM -- guitars permitted.

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