Category Archives: music in general

Towne Crier moves on

Towne Crier Invitational Finals, Sunday June 2, 2013 photo: Stuart Berg

Invitational
Finals follow up:

It was an amazing night, playing the main stage and closing out the open mic finals at the Pawling location. There were so many talented acts and although it was close, I did not take home the prize. It just gives me incentive to continue working as hard as I can to be the best me I can be. Prize or no prize.

For 40 some years Phil Ciganer has created one of the best listening rooms in the country. Booking the highest quality shows and supporting up and coming acts through the open mic opportunity. He has immense heart, there is no way around it, something like this does not exist otherwise.

The Tuesday after I headed up to Club Helsinki in Hudson, NY for their open mic. It was the most varied open mic I had been to in a while. There was storytelling, comedy and even a circus troupe, Cirque Éloize, who were passing through promoting their upcoming run at The Proctor Theater in August.

Looking forward to the Towne Crier re-opening in Beacon where I can catch up with the open mic folks again. In the meantime I will be out & about and sharing my travels here. So much love to you all.

Towne Crier, played: Who U R, Amethyst
Club Helsinki, played: Overlap (Ani), Who U R, Amethyst

Open Mic @ The Towne Crier Café #2

Another fun night at the Towne Crier. Even though I live in Beacon, I think I may miss the old place!!

Met some great folks and got some footage, working on getting that up soon. As I was writing this, I received an email to the Towne Crier Invitational Finals, “every six months the Towne Crier showcases the open mic acts that have been outstanding. I am pleased to invite you”. What? For real? Me? SWEET!!! So that will be  Sunday June 2 at 7pm! There will be a house full that night to send off the old place in style. What an honor to be a part of it. Get tickets >here<

played: Who U R, The Light, Lifetimes

Allison Miller @ The Falcon

If I had my dream, all-girl band, Allison Miller would be the drummer, hands down!!! Good lord, the girl has mad skills, wicked feel and immaculate taste. So happy to have caught her show at The Falcon in Marlboro tonight. She had Todd Sickafoose on bass (check out Tiny Resistors, great stuff!!), Myra Melford on piano, Kirk Knuffke on cornet, and guest Rachel Friedman sang one song.

It was a generous set, we got there about 8pm and saw about an hour and a half, I think they started at 7pm. The ensemble was tight, even on newer songs. Both Allison and Todd have played with Ani DiFranco, so their interplay was fun to see. The music ran the gamut from straight ahead jazz to lullabies, ballads and avant garde, with the alternating intensity of a roller coaster ride, with those quiet moments that come just before you get swooped down and thrown around the bend. With every new song you just wanted to hop back on and see where the ride is going to take you next and what surprises await you.

I bet the biggest compliment Allison gets, after her playing of course, is on her smile. Truly infectious and beautiful. I would lay my money down again any day to see her play anywhere, with anyone. And if you know me, that’s a big compliment!!

allisonmiller.com
toddsickafoose.com

Open Mic @ Infinity Music Hall & Bistro

Infinity Music Hall & Bistro, Norfolk CT

As the #openmic tour continues, I finally found my way to Infinity Music Hall. The open mic is held in the bistro and we’re competing for an opening slot in the main hall. I would be thrilled with that!! Next to open mics, opening slots are my favorite thing.

Last night there was a huge range of styles, as I was #15 out of 17 people, I had a long wait, but I got to see everyone. The bistro is absolutely beautiful and the food was good too!! I got to meet the owner, he was going to leave, but luckily he stayed to hear me play!! Woohoo!!

I realize I have been entrusted with this body of work that has been delivered to me, I no longer feel that it is ‘mine’. I find with every passing year these songs have been with me, that as I change, I continue to find new meaning in each one. I learn from them and they have the ability to express new aspects of my experience. It’s kind of amazing, and it certainly did not come from me!!

Over the past month, since the Towne Crier, I have again reworked almost half of the set so far. I have found a new approach, further blending my bass sensibilities with the guitar. I wish I could play my bass and my guitar at the same time, but this is as close as I can get for now!!!

I look forward to another beautiful drive along 44 east to Infinity….

played: Who U R, The Light

Heeding the Call

wanna take away my right to change
i ain’t done yet i’ve barely begun yet
i’m a work in progress and i always will be
ain’t nothing i can’t do with me
if you’re content sitting at a stop light
waiting on a green light to make your move, that’s cool…
~the light

That song is my mantra. I wrote it, and it serves to remind me who I want to be in the face of adversity.

My parents were both musicians. My dad a sax man, composer and arranger. My mom, a passionate and naturally talented singer. Music is what brought them together. I was born into music. Really, it’s all I’ve ever known. And I have sat on the fence between embracing it and turning my back on it for most of my life.

After my folks split up my mom had a go of it on her own. She headed up her own jazz groups with some heavy hitters. She negotiated her deals with the club owners and musicians. And then she just stopped. For a multitude of reasons. My dad kept going until the end.

I can’t stop. For me, music has always been a spiritual endeavor. It is my form of worship to the divine, the way I align my body, mind and spirit. The one practice that allows me to raise my frequency above the din of the world. The way I feel I can contribute something of value to the world. And when I am playing, I forget what my face looks like, I’m not that kid with the lisp and the big nose, I just play and I Am.

I have been playing since I was about 10, when my dad gifted me with the Yamaha guitar I still play today. But it is only now that I am finally having a clue as to who I really am, finally not so influenced by the rest of the world, finally caring less and finally caring more.

Over the course of my life I have entertained so many insane thoughts about whether I ‘should’ be playing music or not. What does success really mean? Am I good enough? Is it a worthwhile pursuit? Am I pretty enough? Can I really make a difference in the world?

*originally written April 9, 2013

Open Mic @ The Towne Crier Café

love my yamaha fg-165s w/ fishman rare earth

Oh man. What a fun night! Since it was my first time there, I got to go up first. Ugh. I was nervous. Alone, no band. That’s how I did it for years, but it still makes me nervous. Don’t get me wrong, I get nervous with the band too, but we have each other.

When I was traveling and playing solo a lot, there were always open mics on the schedule between shows. I love them. They are their own beast. Less pressure in some ways, you don’t have to carry the whole night. And more pressure because you usually get 2 or 3 songs at most. No time to warm up, just get up, do your thing and get off.

There are a lot of bad open mics out there, but if you set your radar right, you get to find ones like The Towne Crier in Pawling, NY. A well run evening with a gracious host, staff that is friendly and a good room with the right gear and someone to run it properly. The Towne Crier even has a ‘green room’ for the players, that is above and beyond. It’s actually the main room of the venue, but you can tune up, store your gear and even do a little practicing beforehand. The Towne Crier is moving to Beacon, NY and is set to open this spring. They are going to be a welcome addition.

There are other gems out there and they have been in the game a long time. Solid venues that have open mic nights aren’t doing it just to fill a night of the week. They usually attract good talent. In the Atlanta area, Eddie’s Attic was the place. (Eddie Owens has moved to a new room but the song remains the same.) I remember one night, a guy gets up there, didn’t recognize the name, and it was none other than Ellis Paul under a fake name. That’s the kind of nights that can happen. You never know who you might get to hear or talk to.

I think I just might do an open mic tour…

played: Who U R (extended version), Overlap (ani difranco)

The thing about it

If there’s one thing I love about music is that you can always keep learning. Marcus Miller says it well in this video. There is no such thing as a master, because that means you know everything, you’ve learned all you need to learn and that’s impossible.

I couldn’t agree more. I also love what he has to say about soloing. It’s a conversation, not a run-on sentence! It is really about the mindset behind the playing. Either you’re giving an experience to be shared or you’re playing only for yourself.

Enjoy this! More to come~