Red Devil Lounge open mic 10/2/2012
by Alan Monasch
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Please bear with me (ahem), grab your blowpop, your pony, your wig and your party hat and come inside the bigtop that is the Red Devil Lounge for open mic night featuring The Liz O Show!
Liz O. (above)
The list of notables who attended and did not play was headed by Boppity Bear himself, whose stage presence set the tone for this rollicking affair. Also seen in the crowd were Donovan Plant, Tina Helland, Tygerlily Mckenzie and Yogi (yo, dog!) and Fernando the bird, whom I am sure was just winging it. And I hasten to mention bartender Josh Schiaretti and ambassa-door Brian David, both of whom always make open mic night the joy that it is. Jessica Nguyen was on hand to dispense restorative banh mi (Will Georgantas said he favored the tork combo, where the tofu absorbs the juices from the pork. Will also alerted me to the “special special” at the bar, where your choice of beer with the Jamison’s is split into two glasses!) Performers new to the open mic were Trey Kulp, of Oracle and Baltimore, punk rocker Paul Durias, Leify Green (some fine alt tunes; I want to hear him again), Kate Torralba (from the Philippines, with a nice turn on keyboard on excellent songs) and Kidney Punch.
Bar tender Josh with Fernando the bird! (above)
Banh Mi (above)
Julie in her Liz O Wig (above)
Along with the celebration and party that is the Liz O Show, there was a clear theme in the music this week: Superior alt band songs. Greg Lamboy offered a very touching “Watching You Walk Away” and it’s a great solo piece but it’s easy to hear it as a band hit. Leify Green sounded great, first with Trey Kulp on drums, then with secret nuclear weapon Trent Boeschen on a’Lost At Sea.” Sean Tabor did it again, this time with Trent (hello, Zildjian Oriental Crash of Doom cymbal!) on Sean’s new song, the very appealing and radio-worthy “Curtain Call.” I’m so glad I got to hear and see Bill Fried this week; he rocked out big time on two clear, winning band tunes, complete with effective and intense distortion on his acoustic-with-pickup guitar, assisted and elevated by house-drummer-of-all-our-dreams Trent. Alex Jimenez used Trent so well, showing me that his solo originals (“Voices” and “Elena,” with its strong chorus) really work as band tunes. And Thunderegg’s exquisite originals (here, he offered “They Kissed” and “Not What I Meant,” on which he was assisted by Mario Di Sandro on lead guitar) have already proven to be perfect band tunes.
Greg Lamboy (above)
Trey Kulp (above)
Leify Green (above)
Before the break: Nick Grishkoff made me want to reserve a table for his Acoustic Bistro turn this coming Monday with two delicious jazz-kissed songs. Tommy Phan struck again, this time with the keen lyrics of “Estelle” and some more excellent fingerpicking, then a cover of Conor Oberst’s “Tourist Trap.” The Sugar Ponies nailed the brooding, steamy tune that I assume is called “Runaway Train,” with Suzanne Kramer at her sultry best and Michael McGovern’s beautiful touch on guitar. Julie Mayhew gave us her brand new “The Drive” and a version of her “I’m There” that mentioned Boppity Bear in honor of Liz’s feature (and her friendship with Liz.) Oakshott, on guitar again though she is known for her wonderful piano playing, gave us what I think of as a very Kurt Weill dramatic number of hers called “Magic Class,” with Trent perfectly handling the subtlety of the song’s style. And Brent Shinn impressed again, this time with his instrumental “Ix” and a particularly effective “By Me.”
Nick Grishkoff (above)
Liz O: Any performance that causes KC to put on a jester’s hat is a rollicking, joyous clarion call to merriment! It’s all about the fun, and about getting us all involved in that fun! Ably assisted by wig-sister Julie Mayhew on tambourine and the remarkable John Wilson (“he also plays electric bouzouki, ladies”) on electric mandolin, Liz romped through a set of her best material, delighting with tunes like “The Highwayman,” “The Train Song,” “Magical Mist,” “The Bird In Norwegian Wood,” (actually a poignant and lovely tune), the more serious “Break Me Down” (“There once was a girl with flowers in her heart”), crowd favorite “Hot Damn” and the signature “Mule Named Sal.” If you loved Liz’s performance tonight, and I know you did, because of the audience reaction, you will want to be at her Halloween show at 50 Mason Social House, and every other iteration of this rolling party!
KC Turner introducing Liz O (above)
After the break: Special mention must be made of Addison Nimrod’s frontal assault on supreme good sport Boppity Bear, whom Addison appeared to murder (it was acting, acting I tell you!) during his metal extravaganza “Scream in Space.” I hope a picture of this marker moment makes its way into this account; it had to be seen to be truly appreciated, with Liz O watching in horror and concern (when she wasn’t laughing!) I think Addison’s performance helped to make everyone’s night! Onward: Johnny Lawrie continues to bring it with his eclectic punk, supported in every tempo change by hyperlistener Trent on drums. Cloning Dolly covered the hell out of Counting Crows’ “Mr. Jones” and Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl.” Susan Heffelfinger applied her lush voice to Pam Bennett’s “I Can Choose,” with Pam on guitar, after which Pam effectively and emotionally delivered her haunting “Amber.” Finally, it was good to see Mario Di Sandro back from Chicago, and he gave us a heartfelt version of the bittersweet yet infectious “A Lover’s Dance,” and his cover of Tom Waits’ “Picture In A Frame,” at which point I had to leave to catch the last train home, sorry to miss Patrick McCauley, Kate Torralba and Paul Durias.
Addison singing to Boppity Bear (above)
I want to mention that the Sugar Ponies might not have played tonight if Peter Chung had not called them from the stage to play in place of his second song. Peter and Trent lit the place on fire with a straight-up blues song that Peter said was a Ray Charles cover. Yet it is Peter’s kindness that distinguished him tonight, and later he said that he was echoing a similar open-mic playing-opportunity offer made to him in the past by Julie Mayhew. I love our music community, our Red Devil family, and this kind of caring for each other is one of the reasons.
Sugar Ponies (above)
Peter Chung (above)
What our family and friends new and old will remember from this night is the atmosphere of warmth and huge fun, the Liz O carnival, with KC as genial host and ringmaster of our free-wing circus, complete with bird act! The revels continue next week with “Cover a Song From the 90s Night” and a featured performance by my dear friends Dennis Haneda, David Fairchild and Ruthie Elsom, together known as 90s cover band Liquid Television! I hope to see you at the Red Devil next Tuesday!