In high school when I would procrastinate on homework X-Files was like the 2-minute warning on my weekend. If Mulder and Scully made it on screen before my assignments were wrapped up I’d be in serious trouble.
Since I’m always kvetching that I don’t get to tell you about all the awesome stuff I do every week, I’m going to bring back that dread high school tradition for that express purpose: Sundays nights I will rattle off my ravels and travails at length.
And, um, I have no idea where we left off. Before Christmas? After Christmas? Let me think…
Every Tuesday: Open Mic @ Time
On X-Mas Eve Eve I stopped by the new Tuesday open mic @ Time at 1315 Sansom (formerly Ludwig’s). It’s hosted by Pete G. (also the host of Fergie’s), and for the night was co-hosted by my multi-talented South Philly neighbor Michael Gall of Shackamaxon.
I played a lot of different open mics in Philadelphia in 2008, and no matter how nice the host or the equipment, or how good your songs or your playing, it often just comes down to the shape and mood of the room.
Time, as it happens, is a good shape and mood for me – or at least it was on X-E-E. The room is large and square with high ceilings and a low stage in the front corner – big enough for a songwriter, a reduced drum kit, and a slightly detuned upright piano. The low stage makes for an easy connection with patrons at the bar, and the depth/height of the room means everyone can see you playing.
I played first and had great fun warming up the room with some little played tunes, including “A Few Bars of Goodbye” and “Something Real,” plus a new one that I haven’t had a chance to record yet for the site. I wound up staying to last call to catch Ian (The Thief), James Cooper (bassist from Fergie’s), the lovely Francesca, and a host of other great local acts (links to come!).
Saturday: 80s Prom @ The Shubin
AKA my bachelor party. Seriously.
Sorry, kids, I have to come back to this one when I can ramble at more length (if such a thing is possible).
Last Mondays: Linda Cohen Benefit Open Mic @ National Mechanics
I suppose from there we can fast forward to the grocery store this past Monday. Elise, Steve, and I were in line at the checkout when I received a curious text message from one Victoria Spaeth, local songwriter, host of the Thursday evening open mic at Crossroads, and all-around booking machine: did I want to play a spot later that night @ National Mechanics?
Nat’l, on 3rd just under Market, is by far our favorite bar in Center/Old city – great beers and ciders on tap, pleasant pub atmosphere, and the best veggie burgers on the planet. I had done some inquiring over the summer as to whether they did any music to no avail, so I leapt right out of the checkout line to ring Vicky back and let her know I’d definitely come out to play the spot.
As it turns out, the night was an invitational open mic benefit for Linda Cohen, a pillar of the Philly music scene battling lung cancer. I arrived to find that I was on a bill co-hosted by the awesome Dani Mari, along with regular LP open micer Aaron Brown, Ian (twice in a week!), a slew of great local comedians (links forthcoming), and fucking KEN KWEDER.
As long time CK connoisseurs may recall, I met Ken in the middle of the street in University City while changing my guitar string in 2002. He was super-nice to me at the time, and I was surprised to later discover he is an underground songwriter of national renown, and known to tons of my pub-faring friends as well as my dad, who knew him in the 70s.
Anyhow, Ken was awesome, the comedy was awesome – the whole thing was awesome. Being a late and unknown add to the bill I was playing the last songwriter spot, post-1am. I was a little nervous in general, and even more nervous to be playing a super-late spot, as I’m historically not much of a drunk-bar-crowd pleasure.
Well, on this rare occasion I had nothing to be worried about – I was warmed up well, the crowd was nice, and the house speakers added a terrific bass whomp to my already percussive playing. I rattled off a muscular duo of “Shake It Off” and “Like a Virgin,” followed by another run through the brand new one (it’s starting to make sense).
The next benefit goes down while I’m out of town honeymooning; FaceBook it here. They also have a standing music/comedy night every Monday, and if you stop by you can talk to AJ re: booking.
(We also found out Vicky will be pinch-hitting hosting duties at the Tuesday night Lickety Split open mic on South Street, which is just up the street from my house!)
Tuesday: Alexandra Day @ Tin Angel
Gina and I met Alexandra Day while pinch-hitting a slot at Tritone in December 2007 (see, last minute gigs are always a good thing :), and I have been in love with her music ever since. Last spring she released my favorite album of 2008, No Castles No Moats, a luscious blend of piano pop, Philadelphia architecture, Maureen from Rent, and red wine.
I’ve made it a point to catch as many of Alex’s shows as I can since then, as based on the sheer, unbelievable amazingness of both her live sets and her disc I am confident she is mere steps away from a Regina Spektor-like blow-up in the near future.
Alex was opening for a night of song that I unfortunately skipped out on due to being a touch under the weather, but I did catch some of my favorites from her disc as well as a few of her new boy-crazy tunes like “Chemicals In My Brain” and “Red Heads.” She closed with her crushing X-Mas tune, “Bring It On Home,” which jerks tears out of me every damned time.
I’ll stop here, as I have another piece on Alex simmering at the moment, and I don’t want to steal all of my own thunder.
In other news…
I punked out on hitting Auction House for their monthly In The Round on Saturday because it was cold and I was deep into adding new features to my song tracking database. I missed out on a trio of Joshua Park, Scott Silipigni, and Steph Hayes – surely all awesome.
I also hit Wes and Gina’s for the Eagles game, where about half of everyone I know screamed at the television until our shredded vocals chords travelled back up the satellite connection and across the nation to Minnesota, resulting in McNabb finally connecting for a touchdown to seal the deal in the 4th quarter.
Never let it be said that I am a fan of Donovan McNabb. I’ll heckle him straight into the Super Bowl, if that’s what it takes. I am that committed.
I have designs on hitting the open jam @ Connie’s Ric Rac tomorrow night, but we’ll see if they hold up through a day at work. Tuesday would either be Time or Lickety Split if I get my ass out of the house.
The one place I will most assuredly be playing is Intermezzo at 3141 Walnut Street on Wednesday night, where I host the LP open mic. I’ll probably launch my solo opening set just shy of 8 p.m. – I’ll be playing the new tune and maybe some brand new covers. AC will likely grace the stage later in the night; music and drinks will continue through eleven.
Time to go watch some Supernatural DVDs…