Alex Wong at Rockwood Music Hall

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Alex Wong played a solo set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. Usually, that means a lot of guests (and this show was similarly teased). But last night was nearly purely solo, with the exception of Alex Berger (visiting here from the UK) joining on two songs.

AlexWongSinging

If you were there, but didn’t know Alex, it’s remotely possible that you didn’t know who you were listening to. When he first introduced himself, he just said: “Hi, I’m Alex” (no mention of his last name). He quickly started playing on that. He said, “I’m Alex, with an extra two X’s at the end.” Followed by “Actually, it’s Alex with an ick and three X’s, as in AlickXXX”, which ended up being his nickname for the night.

We’ll take him with however many X’s he wants to tack on to his name. Winking smile

I saw Alex at Rockwood a month ago without Lois. Here’s what I had to say about that night. You’ll note the many guests that night. As importantly, you’ll note the mention of three new songs, each co-written with a different person. I was very sorry that Lois missed them that night and just as equally happy that she got to hear them last night!

She loved all three (instantly) as did the other five people at our table (their reaction to the songs was palpable!). It’s no surprise to those of us that love Alex. He’s an amazing songwriter (solo or co-writer). He’s one of our favorite producers as well. Aside from his musical talents, he’s flat out one of our favorite people.

In my previous post, I mentioned that Alex performed Motion Sickness and split the audience in half, with me in the “na na na” section. Last night, the split was right where I was sitting, so I could have legally chosen either part. To shake things up, I chose the “Oh, oh, oh oh oh” part this time. In retrospect, I made a wise choice, it challenged me more than the “Na na na” part. Winking smile

Alex teased us on his second number, playing the intro to Brooklyn Blurs. He then backed off, saying it was too much of a summer song, so he switched to a more wintry one.

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For his third song, he invited Alex Berger on stage. Alex played the grand piano and sang gorgeous harmony with AlickXXX (note how cleverly I avoided the confusing use of last names in that sentence!). Winking smile They played Don’t Be Afraid.

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When Alex played the song he co-wrote with Nate Campany (I don’t know the name, it’s the one with the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s) he noted that Nate was in the audience, but that he was unlikely to come up and sing. A few people in the audience were really vocal about encouraging Nate to come up, unsuccessfully.

Berger agreed to come back up, singing the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah part in harmony with Wong. Beautiful, the song and the harmony. I need a professionally produced version of this song, pronto. Get on it AlickXXX!

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Another highlight of the evening was Alex (back to Wong now) playing In the Creases, one of our favorite songs. I couldn’t stop thinking that an entire set of the various versions of In the Creases that we’ve see live would make for an awesome show.

First up, Alex playing In the Creases (ITC) solo. Then ambeR Rubarth doing it solo. Then the two of them (they could even do it three times in a row, once with each playing the guitar alone and once with both playing the guitar at the same time).

Next would be Alex playing it with Melissa Tong and David Fallo on the strings. Then bring ambeR back up to play it with the strings as well.

Finally, the crescendo, bring Vienna Teng up (keeping the strings) and add Katie Scheele on oboe and recreate the most perfect version of ITC we’ve ever heard live with Vienna on the grand piano and adding three-part harmony to the mix. Ahhhhhhhh, just remembering it brings me peace and joy!

Yes, we have indeed seen every combination of the above versions of ITC and loved them all!

Another wonderful set, thanks AlickXXX.

We got there 10 minutes before Alex’s set. I stood outside (brrr) and caught up on some comms on my Droid. Lois went in and heard the last song of the set before Alex, Dorie Colangelo. Lois was extremely impressed by Dorie.

When I walked in, she was telling Dorie how wonderful her voice was. She asked if Dorie had any CDs/EPs and Dorie handed her one (she didn’t want money for it). Lois insisted. She asked me for money. Since I wasn’t privy to the conversation, I handed her a $5, thinking it was the standard fee for most EPs. When I loaded it up this morning, I saw that it was an 11-song CD. I’ll slip Dorie some more money the next time we see her. Given Lois’ reaction, I’m sure there will be a next time. Smile

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After the show, I made my way to the room on the other side of the bar. In all the times that we’ve been at Rockwood, I’ve never been in that room (used as the green room, but it’s open to the public, so not quite a real green room, just a staging area). I bumped into Tony Maceli there and got to tell him in person how amazing he was the night before, playing as part of Greg Holden’s band.

Only two shows (that I know we’re going to) before we hit a month-long dry spell. The first will be on Sunday, 1:30pm, seeing Artemis Chamber Ensemble (at Holy Family Church in Larchmont, NY). They are amazing. Then on Monday night, we’ll be at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, 10pm, to see Alex Berger perform. Can’t wait! Smile

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Greg Holden at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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We’ve seen Greg Holden perform three full sets over the past year and sing as a guest at a few other shows. He’s grown on me each time I’ve seen him. Last night was his last show of 2010, at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. It was scheduled for 10:30pm so we were shaky about making it out that late. In the end, Lois was too tired to go out. So was I, but a scalding shower and the outside air gave me the necessary second wind.

I was particularly interested in seeing the show because Greg just finished recording a new CD (Titled: I Don’t Believe You, likely out in the Spring). He was going to debut a few new songs from the CD. I was also under the impression that there were new arrangements for some existing songs and I was curious to hear those as well.

Greg came on stage at 10:45pm. That was way better than I expected, given that there was a private party at Rockwood from 6-10pm.

The first number he performed was solo, Following Footsteps. It was very slow, very quiet, very well done. The vast majority of the people at Rockwood were quiet and totally focused on Greg. One jerk at the bar could be heard (louder than Greg). Unfortunately, that jerk became a focal point throughout the set. It made for some laughs along the way, but ultimately, people like that need to be shown the door.

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When the song was over, Greg was joined by a full, all-star band (another reason why I pushed myself to go out). I’ll cover each of the band members shortly (as I always do).

That second number, Hell and Back, was very upbeat. It got the crowd going (and overwhelmed the jerk). After the song, Greg joked that he should have opened with that number.

Greg only played one other song solo (I think: I Don’t Believe You), another slow soulful number, beautifully finger-picked. The band left the stage for that one, but otherwise accompanied him on the rest of the set. Greg joked that he was playing some depressing songs (e.g., American Dream, inspired by a homeless couple he sat next to on the subway). He added that if you wanted happy songs, you should have gone to see Ian the night before.

While it’s true that the subject matter of some of Greg’s songs was dark (depressing?), whenever the full band was playing, there were more rock overtones to the songs making them feel less sorrowful. Speaking of the band, from left-to-right on stage:

Ian Axel on grand piano and vocals. The first time we ever saw Ian was when he sat in as a guest on a few numbers for Greg Holden’s set at Rockwood 1 (that was also the first time we saw Greg). Their interaction has clearly grown since then. Ian sang significantly more harmony with Greg last night than he did last year. I really enjoyed their blend, with Ian taking the high notes and Greg the baritone. Of course, Ian always sounds great on the piano, nothing needs to be added on that subject.

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Tony Maceli on electric bass. I’ve said dozens of times what a solid musician Tony is. I was shocked that it took Greg Holden’s music (something I don’t, or rather hadn’t associated with rock) to open up Tony’s bass playing considerably. On the first song that the band joined Greg (Hell and Back), Tony wailed on the bass, playing faster riffs than I’ve ever seen him do. He remained energized and tasty throughout, handling the mellower numbers with his usual skill.

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Adam Christgau on drums and vocals. The night before (in my post about Ian’s show) I mentioned that my count-down clock to see Adam had started again. I’m so happy that I got to reset that clock a little over 24 hours later! Adam is a joy to listen to. I even got to see a bit more of him than usual at a Rockwood 2 show, because Tony kept moving toward the piano, giving us a slightly better glimpse of the drum set tucked in the corner. Adam also did a nice job on the vocals (a bit more on that later).

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Chris Kuffner on lead electric guitar and vocals. One night after finally getting to see Chris open it up on the bass, I got to see his best performance (in my opinion) on the electric guitar. That’s saying something, because he’s impressed me a number of times in the past! Just like with Tony on the bass, Hell and Back had Chris going wild with incredible leads. To repeat, not something I expected from past Greg Holden shows! Chris continued this kind of play, including one fabulous number mostly played with a slide. Bravo!

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Back to the show. One of my favorite Greg Holden songs is one he co-wrote with Joey Ryan. The only versions I’ve heard (live and on YouTube) are acoustic, very mellow. Lois titled the song Nothing But a Memory (when it was still untitled). Greg and Joey finally named it As Far as I Can. It will be on the new CD and Joey recorded it with him. Here’s their debut of the song on YouTube (have patience if they show an ad first!):

Greg Holden and Joey Ryan performing As Far as I Can

Last night, with a full band, and Ian singing Joey’s part (well!), the song was dramatically different. More rock-n-roll than folk. I liked it and it was performed well, but I much prefer the original version. When the song was over, I turned to my friend and noted that. She likes the original version too, but was much happier than I was with the new one. I’ll be curious to see which version Greg puts on the new CD.

To close out the show, Greg played one of his signature songs, Bar on A (co-written with Nate Campany). Greg invited anyone who wanted to sing it with him up on the stage. Nine people (mostly professional musicians) came up and formed a Rockette-like chorus line behind Greg. The ones I’m sure of, left-to-right were Katie Costello, Lauren Zettler, Bess Rogers, Allison Weiss, Sam Teichman, Nate Campany and standing behind them Seth Faulk. There was someone standing to Katie’s right (our left) who I couldn’t see (and don’t know). Between Allison and Sam was a comedian (Sam told me his name after the set, but I’ve forgotten it).

GroupSingingBarOnA

Greg did a generous and cool thing with this song. When the song started, he turned to Ian and nodded. Ian sang lead on the first verse. Then Greg looked back to Adam, who stood and sang the next few lines. Greg then followed that with Tony singing a few and Chris doing some as well. A very nice way for him to highlight the amazing band that played with him!

A fun night out. I’m glad I shook off the exhaustion! Smile

Before the show, Greg and Adam going over the set list (on an iPhone!). Technology marches on! Smile

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P.S. Since Lois didn’t attend, any complaints about the photos go directly to me…

Ian Axel and Rachel Platten at Mercury Lounge

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When this show was announced in October, we instantly grabbed four tickets (the maximum that Mercury Lounge sells, online or in person!). Since then, we’ve been waiting impatiently for the show to start.

The last time we saw Ian Axel perform was a single song guest appearance on 9/22/2010. Before that, it was 7/22/2010 when he performed an intimate two-person show (Chad Vaccarino was the only person to appear with him that night) at Flux Studios. It was definitely full-on withdrawal time for us, since we missed Ian’s big CMJ show in October.

For those who don’t like all my details, the bottom line first: The show was absolutely awesome!

Ian is releasing a CD on 2/15/2011. Before that, next Tuesday (12/14/2010 to be exact) he will be releasing three of the songs from that CD on iTunes. If I understand correctly, you’ll be able to complete your purchase of the full CD on 2/15/2011 without being penalized (or buying double) if you buy the first three songs next week. Do it!

If you’re not familiar with Ian (shame on you), here’s a YouTube video of This is the New Year. If you are, consider this a warm-up to get you in the mood for the rest of this post:

Ian Axel This is the New Year video

You can preview (stream) next week’s release at Ian’s Facebook fan page. If you listen to This is the New Year carefully, you’ll note that it’s a new version. I (normally) hate when artists tinker with perfection (and I hope you’ll agree that the video above is perfection). Yet, I grudgingly admit that they made an even better version (not that it needed improving), so even fans who have the previous version stuck in their head will love this one!

Last night, Ian played all three of the songs on next week’s EP release. If you missed the show and want to experience a bit of the magic, listen to Girl I Got a Thing on the above Facebook page. When Ian sings “Girl I Got a Thing for You”, you respond with “Girl I Got a Thing for You” out loud (like we all did). Then, when he sings “Na na na na”, you shout out “Whoa Wo”. If you can get a couple of hundred people to do it with you, really loud, you’ll come close to reproducing what it sounded like at Mercury Lounge! Smile

Ian poured out his heart to us and from all of the FB statuses and tweets I’ve seen, everyone responded similarly. He rocked out on some numbers, played solo on Say Something (on the keyboards this time, rather the slightly more typical ukulele version) and added ukulele magic on two others.

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Ian typically plays with a four piece band (including Ian on the keyboards). Last night, they were down a man. It didn’t matter, the sound was huge. I’ll start with the core members who were on stage for all but Say Something, but stay tuned, because there are two other people who will be covered right after!

Adam Christgau on drums and background vocals. It’s simply been way too long since we’ve seen Adam play (7/8/2010 to be exact!). It felt good to feel Adam’s rhythm hitting me straight on (we were right in front of the stage, dead center). The clock for missing seeing Adam play is now officially ticking again…

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Chris Kuffner on electric bass and background vocals. If you read this space regularly, you know that we love Chris Kuffner. All but one of his performances have been on electric guitar (excellent). Still, I lament that I need to see him open it up on the bass. The one time I’ve seen him on the bass, the music called for a more sedate style.

Last night, Chris got to open it up and I’m glad I was there. He also did something I’ve never seen/heard before. Using his pedals to add effects, Chris got the bass to sound exactly like an organ! It was cool and a little eerie. Scratch another one off my music bucket list, seeing Chris play electric bass! Smile

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That everyone at every Ian show loves Ian is no surprise. In fact, if it weren’t true, there’d be some slapping going on in the audience. What warms my heart each and every time (even though it’s completely expected now!) is that the audience totally gets how awesome Chad Vaccarino is and what an integral part of the magic he is.

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First and foremost (before any of us get to see/hear the result), Chad is Ian’s regular writing partner, co-writing many of Ian’s songs. For that alone, he deserves a spot in some hall of fame. But it’s hardly that alone. When Chad steps on stage to sing with Ian (and now to play trumpet a bit as well), there is an electricity in the crowd. The roar when Chad sings is even greater than that.

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Last night was no exception. Chad ripped the room up. There’s little more to say than that. Each is an enormous talent on their own. Together, they boggle the mind.

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Mike Campbell was a special guest on two numbers, playing acoustic guitar and singing harmony. I just recently covered Mike’s first solo show in this post. The first song that Mike joined on was also the first song that Ian played the ukulele on, Pacific Sun (a song Ian rarely plays live, so it was a very special treat). Chad stood between them and the three of them harmonized beautifully. I’ll get to the other song in a minute. Well done Mike (who also got a rousing cheer when he came up each time!).

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When Ian played his last song the crowd went nuts screaming for him to play more. After the band milled around on the stage hugging each other for a minute, Ian looked at the sound engineer to see if he could play another one. He got the OK. He announced that he would play a new song that wasn’t on the new CD. He and Chad performed You’ll Be OK. They nailed it (you didn’t expect otherwise, did you?).

Once they finished, they tried to get off the stage again. A 100+ people starting chanting Shorty (short for Shorty Don’t Wait, another new number that isn’t on the new CD). If Ian and Chad had stepped off the stage, trouble might have brewed. Ian looked up at the sound engineer again and got the OK for one last number.

Mike Campbell came back up and Ian picked up the ukulele again. They blew the crowd away. I can’t think of a better way to finish off an extraordinary evening than by playing a song the crowd demands and delivering it better than the crowd could hope for.

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They were on stage for 53 minutes. It felt like one minute in terms of time flying by. It felt like three hours in terms of the level of satisfaction.

As if the above weren’t enough, that’s only part of the story of why last night was so spectacular. There was an opening act before Ian that was incredible.

Rachel Platten opened the show. I’ve seen Rachel perform a full set just once before (covered in this post). If you read that, you know I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Rachel’s show that night. Unfortunately, Lois was sick and missed that show.

RachelPlattenKeyboards

Last night Rachel had a smaller band and that worked really well for me to appreciate her on an entirely new level. While I like the sound of a bigger band (in general), sometimes it’s harder to pick up on the lyrics to songs. Last night I had no trouble hearing every word that Rachel sang. I have a huge new respect for her as a songwriter. Every song was interesting, but some were deep and moving.

Rachel’s voice is unbelievable. Power, but crystal clear as well. It’s almost laser like. As I mentioned in the last post, she beams throughout her set. If you’re not infected with her energy and sweetness, get yourself to a doctor stat!

I knew she was good on the keyboards from the last show, but last night she also had a song where she danced up and down the keyboard at high speed. I was standing right in front of her and could see every finger movement. She’s better than I realized the first time and I had no complaints that night!

Here’s last night’s set list, all gems!

RachelPlattenSetList

Playing with Rachel were:

Craig Meyer on drums. This is the third or fourth time that I’ve apologized for not having a good link to an individual page for Craig. One of his friends better force him to have a presence somewhere, soon. Craig is excellent. His drumming is as much a visual art form as it is aural. He played a snare and a djembe last night rather than a full drum set. He also played the smallest glockenspiel that I’ve ever seen, with the tip of a drum stick. It was funny.

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Nathan Eklund on trumpet and harmony. Nathan sang beautifully with Rachel, I really liked their harmonies. He’s excellent on the trumpet as well, lending jazz tinges to Rachel’s songs when he took his solos.

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When the show was over, Lois headed to the merch table and bought a CD and a T-Shirt from Rachel. We both got to tell her how wonderful she was.

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Even though we only bought four tickets (hence two guests), we ended up seeing a dozen friends there, most of us standing front and center stage. It was truly a party in the best sense of the word, with Ian and Rachel performing DJ duties. Winking smile

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Jess and Jesse Terry Wedding

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Yesterday’s post ended with: “Congratulations to Jesse and Jess as your new life together begins in a few hours!”

This is the sequel to that post, sharing some memories from an absolutely gorgeous wedding ceremony that we were honored to be invited to.

WeddingProgram

Just like the night before, things weren’t exactly hitch-less as far as timing is concerned. This time, traffic wasn’t to blame. Someone (I don’t know who, so I’m not just protecting the guilty party) Winking smile accidentally left the video camera in the hotel room. So, even though everyone was gathered, the ceremony was delayed until the camera was retrieved. We were sitting with three friends, so the time passed very quickly.

The wedding and reception were held at Tomes-Higgins House in Greenwich, CT. There was a grand piano in the corner (eventually played beautifully by Justin Coutu), but the majority of the music in the wedding came from an iPod, sitting in a speaker dock, sitting on top of that piano.

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The first song played was Over the Sun We’ll Fly, written by Jesse Terry as his engagement/proposal song for Jess (Jessica Groom). Here is a YouTube video of him singing it for her (and proposing in front of the audience!) at the Bluebird Café in Nashville:

Jesse Terry performing Over the Sun We’ll Fly at the Bluebird Cafe

After that song, they played Moon River, while the wedding party came down the aisle. The flower girl and ring bearer stole the show (a few times).

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Officiating was the Reverend Andrew Williams (Drew), Senior Pastor at Trinity Church in Greenwich, CT. In these Internet-crazed days, most people associate WWW with World Wide Web. Yesterday, it was Pastor Drew’s: Wisdom, Warmth and Wit. All three were in full bloom and moved Lois and I throughout the ceremony.

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I hesitate to share his first humorous statement, because I know it won’t come across with the warmth that was obvious in context. When Jess and Jesse settled in before him, he said that their entire lives were destined to bring them together on this day. “Both families prayed for this to happen. Looking at Jess, clearly, Jesse’s family prayed a bit harder.” Winking smile

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There was a spontaneous roar and any worries that this would be a stiff ceremony were dispelled immediately.

The Pastor led us in prayer and song. Jesse’s grandfather read from First Corinthians 13 and his mother read A Prayer of St. Francis.

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The Pastor gave a number of inspirational talks and blessings. The one that overwhelmingly got to Lois was a message to the couple to go through life learning to dance together (poor paraphrase by me). He spoke about the various stages of learning to dance and the feelings people experience. He related them to his family (wife and kids) in a beautiful way, giving a more practical sense to a theoretical topic. The dance manual? The Bible, of course!

PastorAndrewWilliamsWeddingMessage

After the ceremony, Lois bolted straight to the Pastor and asked him whether he would be willing to give her a copy of his message so we could post it on the blog. He told her that he would email it to her. If/when he does, I’ll update the post and include it here.

Update: The Pastor emailed Lois today! I include the wonderful Dance Instructions in their entirety, unedited, at the bottom of this post!

I already mentioned the flower girl and ring bearer. The flower girl’s enthusiasm was literally bursting at the seams. When the Pastor asked for the rings, the tiny ring bearer jumped up and announced: “I have them!”. The entire room started giggling.

The Pastor was not the only one to crack a joke. Right after the ceremony concluded, our friend leaned over and said: “Not every bride is also a groom!”. If you don’t get it, check back to see Jess’ maiden name in the parens above. Smile

When the ceremony was over, all of the chairs were removed from the two rooms and tables were rolled in as the food was brought out. It was very nice not to have to run from one location to another to shift from the ceremony to the reception. As the wedding party took photos, the rest of the guests started the other kind of party, celebrating the happy couple’s nuptials.

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Jess and Jesse Terry are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. Sharing this joyous occasion with them and their loved ones was truly an honor. We wish them a life full of love and happiness and hope to share some of it with them along the way!

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Pastor Drew Williams’ Dance Instructions:

1.  Dancing Lessons

As you stand at the threshold of your marriage, I believe that the Lord would have me give you some dancing lessons.

Let me explain:

Your marriage is God’s gift to you both.

Not happenstance.

Not the outworking of a random series of events.

Your marriage is God’s gift to you both.

God has chosen you and He has chosen you for each other.

This gift is given in love and is part of God’s plan to enable you both to be all The Lord created you to be.

His desire for your marriage is that it should be a place where:

  • all your gifts
  • all that makes you both fully alive

all of this should have its fullest expression.

But for this happen – you are going to have to let the Lord teach you to how to dance.

‘A time to dance’ Ecclesiastes 3:4

Irony here is that I am of an age where according to my children I dance just like my father!

I would like to show you how to dance with your Heavenly Father.

In doing this I want to look at:

  • theory,
  • practical dance tips
  • and then an invitation.

Let’s look at some theory first.

2. Dance Theory

2.1 Following the Manual

There is a dance manual!

In the beginning it was the word of God that created.

God spoke and chaos became choreography.

Make this dance manual a living part of your marriage.

Read it together.

Work at it together.

Pray through it together.

2.2 Following Emmanuel

So there is a manual and there is ‘Emmanuel’ – God is with us.

Dance that is truly inspired always contains something that is extemporary.

The wind blows wherever it pleases.

You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.

So it is with everyone who is born of the Holy Spirit.

Let The Holy Spirit lead you

and you can be sure that you won’t have a ready answer for those who want to know your next move

but there will be moments in His leading when it will feel that you have been lifted off the dance floor altogether.

And here is where you find eternal perspective.

So there is some dance theory.

  • Embrace The Word of God.
  • Embrace the Holy Spirit.

What about some practical tips?

I had a list here of twenty five practical tips.

I have narrowed it down to two.

3. Practical Dance tips

What we have here in Jess and Jesse are two solo routines that now have to be re-cast by the Lord so as to be one amazing salsa partnership.

3.1 Practice

So the first practical tip is exactly that.

You need to Practice.

In the Old Testament David was a terrific dancer – he had all the moves.

But when he married he took a year out from the Battle field where David and his wife joined the Lord on the dance floor and worked out some new steps.

So take plenty of time in the next year to put in some practice;

push back the furniture,

roll back the carpet

and enjoy the music!

Tell your family and friends that you can’t come out – you are having some dancing lessons.

They will understand!

When we were first married my wife and I had some ballroom dancing lessons.

We learned a lot about each other in those evenings.

We learned that:

  • I had very poor rhythm but I could remember the next move.
  • We learned that my wife was great at keeping time but could not always remember what came next.

So we hurtled around the dance floor – her shouting out the rhythm in my left ear and me shouting out the next move and trying to avoid her feet.

Sometimes I was leading and sometimes there was really only the appearance that I was leading.

I see now that Lord was teaching us something that would serve us well.

A good dance partnership is clearly all about just that ‘partnership’ –

but there will be times when it will be your responsibility – Jesse(y) – to discern in God the next move – and take a strong lead.

There will be other times when you – Jess– will sense the Lord’s timing and you are going to have to help Jesse take that strong lead.

And all of this takes practice.

Sometimes it may feel to you that the Lord is using your marriage to slow you down.

Actually this is all about timing.

Don’t underestimate the deep significance of what God is doing through these slow tempo seasons.

And for later – the Lord would have you both remember Isaiah 40:11 ‘The Lord gently leads those that have little ones.’

3.2 Physical Touch

Practically speaking, there is something very Latin about the way the Lord dances.

‘When I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go.’ Song of Songs 3:4

This is a dance that you have to feel; to have and to hold.

I want to give you something – very precious.

My wife gave this to me on my wedding day.

It is one of the most precious things

I have and I had to ask her if it was OK for me to give it to you.

Can you feel that? On our wedding day, as we said our vows my wife held my hand and said that.

Can you feel what is being said here?

And in the days that have followed – during the birth of our children, in the moments before I was ordained, during times of great joy and in times of sorrow – she has held my hand and this is what she says to me.

And this is what I say back.

And nobody else knows except us and the Lord.

Find the same secret language – you are very welcome to borrow from our vocabulary – but find this physical language and use it.

Don’t let today be the last time you kiss your wife in public.

Be indiscreet on public transport and hold hands for goodness sake!

Physical touch is essential language in a great dance partnership.

So you have some theory and some practical tips and now I want to extend to you both an invitation.

4. Take hold my right hand

There is a clear warning in the Bible that the dance floor may be strewn with the occasional obstacle.

The apostle Peter, talks about many kinds of trial.

But even in that warning there is an incredible encouragement hidden in the cadence of the language.

The Greek word Peter chooses to describe these ‘many trials’ is ‘poikilos’, which literally means many or multi- coloured.

Peter uses that word only one other time and that is to describe the love of God ‘in its many colours.’ (1 Peter 4:10.)

His point is this.

Along the way, our troubles may be multi- coloured but so too is the Father’s love.

There is no colour in the human situation which the love of the Father cannot match.

‘For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.’ Isaiah 41:13

Take hold His right hand.

Dance with the Father.

Finally

How might I conclude?

In just a moment you are going to move from two solo dance routines to dance with one another.

It will last the rest of your life.

So then finally this:

Live every day of your long, happy and healthy marriage as if it were – the last dance.

Amen.

Jesse Terry at The Bitter End

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What do you do the night before you get married? Have a wild bachelor party? Meditate on the changes your life is about to experience? Not if you’re Jesse Terry, a wonderful singer/songwriter who hails from Nashville. You give your family, friends and fans a chance to celebrate with you.

Jesse Terry played a 35-minute set at The Bitter End last night (he’s getting married today!). We had heard about Jesse for over a year from one of his biggest fans and finally got to see him perform three months ago at a house concert at that fan’s (our friend’s) house. I covered that night in this post. We’ve been big fans ourselves ever since.

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Last night started off a bit shaky. Jesse and his entourage (fiancée, mother-in-law-to-be, others?) allowed two hours to make a 40-minute drive to the city. With crazy holiday traffic, it wasn’t enough. After scrambling to set up, Jesse’s set started 15 minutes late. That’s fine, it only added to the anticipation. Smile

Jesse played a seven song set of mixed genres. The third song was Natural, one of two songs that Lois plays over (and over, and over, and over…). Jesse switched from up-tempo strumming to fantastic finger-picking for this heart-tugger. I linked to the YouTube video in the last post, but I’m going to do it again, because you need to hear it (even if you’ve heard it before!). Smile

Jesse Terry performing Natural at the Bluebird Cafe

A couple of songs later Jesse asked for any requests. Lois was first with a request for Noise, but we heard at least five other people call out Noise, including Jesse’s father! Noise is another stunning song, finger-picked to perfection. I can’t resist linking that one either. Winking smile

Jesse Terry peforming Noise at the Bluebird Cafe

If you don’t know Jesse, don’t be fooled into thinking that everything he does is mellow finger-picking (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) Winking smile Jesse is simply a wonderful singer/songwriter who isn’t shackled to one style. These two songs just happen to blow both of us away.

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To close out his set, Jesse invited up his duet partner, Carley Tanchon to sing with him. Jesse and Carley performed together for months on a South Pacific cruise. It’s on that cruise that Jesse met his bride-to-be, Jess (yes, they’ll be Jess and Jesse Terry). Smile

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Carley has a gorgeous voice (you can check it out in the link to her MySpace page above). The two of them sang beautifully together and ended the set on a high note.

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Congratulations to Jesse and Jess as your new life together begins in a few hours!

Bess Rogers and Lelia Broussard at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Scratch another one off my music bucket list, Bess Rogers. We’ve been aware of her for a long time, having seen her husband, Chris Kuffner perform at least a dozen times. Even though we were hoping to stay in last night and catch up on some much-needed rest, when I found out Bess was playing at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, neither of us hesitated to add it to our schedule.

Bess is part of Ingrid Michaelson’s band, tours as a solo artist and is also a member of The Flux Capacitors. Last night was a solo show (with full band), opening for Lelia Broussard (they’ve been touring together). Bess and Lelia shared the same band, so when I say something about a member of Bess’ band, the same goes for their performance when Lelia was on stage.

Bess played a mix of catchy pop songs and up-tempo rock numbers. Both styles worked well. Her voice was excellent, even though she noted that she had been sick all day and was chugging DayQuil. She opened on the ukulele, mostly played an acoustic guitar and finger-picked when she played the electric guitar.

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Bess just recently released a 5-song EP called Bess Rogers Presents Bess Rogers. She played all of the songs from the EP last night, along with five others (one called out from the crowd that isn’t on the set list).

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One of the songs on the EP was put up on YouTube and all of the band members (that I’m about to cover) appear in the video. The song is Favorite Day. There are two additional musicians in the video that were not on stage last night, Dan Romer and Saul Simon-MacWilliams, both playing brass:

Favorite Day by Bess Rogers

On to the band, left-to-right on stage:

Chris Kuffner on electric guitar and harmony. Chris is excellent on electric guitar and on bass (which he didn’t play last night). I’ve heard him sing before (well), but last night, harmonizing with Bess (his wife), was even better. Clearly, they get some quality practice time. Winking smile In general, their interaction on stage is fun and fresh.

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Elliot Jacobson on drums. I’ve heard about Elliot for a while now. He too plays in Ingrid Michaelson’s band. In 2010, Elliot was voted as #1 Up and Coming Drummer in the Modern Drummer Magazine’s Readers Poll. I was very impressed with Elliot’s performance last night. Both Bess and Lelia had a ton of very up-tempo songs. It’s easy to over-drum them, or under-drum them. Elliot did neither. He was really interesting and extremely fast, time and again. I’m officially a fan now!

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Tony Maceli on electric bass. Tony is such a solid musician, on electric and upright bass, as well as trumpet. Last night was no exception as the combination of Tony and Elliot created such a solid bottom, giving both Bess and Lelia a very big sound.

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Bess called Lelia up twice to join her on stage. The first time was to play ukulele (no singing). The second time Bess also called up Allison Weiss. Lelia played the electric guitar and Allison harmonized with Bess. Very well done.

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Bess’ set lasted 45 minutes. I look forward to the next time!

Immediately after Bess left the stage, Lelia’s set began. Since they were sharing the band, no additional setup was required. Except, the band reminded her that the first song on her set list was solo, so they all walked off the stage.

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In retrospect, that was the one mistake Lelia made in arranging her set (IMO). She’s a fine solo performer, but that one song was nothing like the rest of the set, so it set the wrong expectation for newcomers like us.

Once the band rejoined, the rest of the numbers were up-tempo rock. The music was totally engaging and I found my foot tapping (and stomping) throughout the set. The only downside is that for me, Lelia’s voice (excellent) was another instrument, not a lyrics delivery system. The music was loud (not annoying, just really full) that I could hardly make out more than a few words/lyrics in a row. Musically, I still enjoyed every number.

Lelia sang, played the ukulele, electric and acoustic guitars. Late in the set she too called up Bess and Allison Weiss. Bess played the tambourine and both Bess and Allison sang harmony with Lelia. I thoroughly enjoyed Lelia’s set. There was a bit more musical variety in Bess’ set, but every song in Lelia’s set was well executed.

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Lelia’s set also lasted roughly 45 minutes.

After the show, Lois went over to buy a T-Shirt from Bess. Bess announced on stage that if you bought a T-Shirt, she’d throw in the new EP. Cool! I listened to the EP while writing this post. Wonderful!

We also ran into Tony and Chris afterward:

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The show was called for 7:30pm. We arrived at 7:10pm. I noticed that Karly Jurgensen was playing next door at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 from 7-8pm. I have seen her perform one song when I saw Jesse Ruben there and he called her up as a guest.

I was impressed with that number. Lois was sick that night so she missed Jesse and Karly. I suggested that Lois go next door to catch at least one Karly song before the Bess/Lelia show started. She did.

When she returned, she couldn’t stop raving about how great Karly’s voice is! Whew, I didn’t steer her wrong. Winking smile

You can listen to her on her MySpace page. We’ll be looking out for Karly’s upcoming shows!

Joey Ryan, Kenneth Pattengale, The Springs Standards and Meg and Dia at The Studio at Webster Hall

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Joey Ryan comes to NYC a few times a year. If we’re here too, you can bet we’ll make it to one of his shows. Even though we love seeing him solo, this time he was touring with Kenneth Pattengale as well. The two of them make magic together, so we run rather than jog to see them whenever we can.

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Last night included an interesting first, one I completely support and was impressed by. For many of the shows we go to, it’s hit or miss whether an artist (even the headliner) will actually get an introduction. Most times, the lights dim and people start to clap when they notice the band coming on stage. Occasionally, there might be an announcement over the PA. Rarely, someone from the club will come on stage and make a more formal introduction.

At 8pm (show time), Dia, of Meg and Dia came on stage. She introduced Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale. She did it in a completely humorous, sarcastic manner, which might have confused (or offended) people who misunderstood or don’t get that kind of humor. I don’t think there were many in the audience who missed the real meaning.

The more important thing here is that the headliner bothered to come on stage, to let their fans know how highly they thought of the opener. I haven’t seen that before and I’d love to see It happen more often. Occasionally, a great opening group gets little respect from a crowd who is there primarily to see the headliner. Perhaps they would pay more attention if they realized that the headliner chose the opener for a reason! Bravo Meg and Dia!

Joey and Kenneth performed seven songs, alternating their material with each singing lead on the songs they wrote. Joey started and ended the set with Kenneth performing the even numbered songs.

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Both are very good guitar players. Joey mostly finger picks and Kenneth is a masterful flat-picker. They blend beautifully. The same is true of their voices. Harmonies are gorgeous. Each has a wide range. Each tends to sing very high when they’re harmonizing for the other, and lower when they’re singing lead.

In his signature style (making it worth coming to a show even if you listen to their CDs and EPs constantly), Joey (and Kenneth as well) is just plain funny. Completely deadpan delivery (and soft-spoken to the point of having to strain to hear him at times). I believe that Joey could have a career in comedy if he wanted it. He was most definitely on last night (not that I recall ever seeing him off).

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The crowd was extremely enthusiastic for them. There’s no doubt that we weren’t the only people there who know and love Joey and Kenneth’s music, but I also suspect that aside from them being able to win people over on their own, having Dia come out to give her fans the word had to nudge some to pay more attention. Their set lasted around 35 minutes.

After a pretty quick turnaround (a little less than 10 minutes), the second of the three groups took the stage.

The Spring Standards have been on my list for nearly a year and it just hasn’t worked out in my schedule to catch them. We saw them perform at the New York Sings for Haiti Benefit in January. They did two songs and had a minimal setup. I was extremely impressed and I wanted to see/hear more.

Last night was nothing like the Haiti Benefit. The fact that they were able to set up in under 10 minutes was quite impressive given all the gear that they had on stage. Nothing minimal about their set this time.

Standing left-to-right on the stage (for the most part, though the two James’ switched sides a number of times):

James Cleare played the acoustic guitar, electric bass, drums, harmonica and sang (lead and harmony). Excellent all around.

Heather Robb (apparently an actor as well as a member of this group). Heather played the drums, double-decker electric keyboards, glockenspiel and sang (lead and harmony). She also had a melodica out, but if she played it, I missed it. She too was excellent all around, though her voice sounded a bit strained at times (markedly different from the Haiti benefit, where her voice was the highlight).

James Smith (no good individual link, so I linked to a good but old photo of him) played electric bass, acoustic guitar, trumpet, drums and sang (lead and harmony). Another excellent performance all around.

Updated: I had the two James reversed originally, even I was pretty sure I was wrong. The photos at ContactMusic are mislabeled and I incorrectly followed their lead. 🙁 Thanks to the commenter who pointed out my error!

All three are talented multi-instrumentalists. They all drum standing up, playing other instruments during the same song. Typically, two of them are drumming on the same song (e.g., James Cleare will be using the kick drum while playing the electric bass, as Heather plays the snare, bass drum and cymbals while mixing in the keyboards or glock).

Joining them for at least half of their numbers (standing/sitting behind them) was their Tour Manager, Noah Goldman. Noah played pedal steel guitar, bass, acoustic and electric guitars (possibly something else).

The energy level they put out is incredible. Everything about their performance is fun. Due to the big sound (loud, but clear) and the amazing amount of visual distractions (eye candy) to pay attention to on stage, I can’t say that I registered more than a handful of their lyrics, here and there. As such, their songs aren’t (yet) memorable to me.

They finished up their set in a big way. First they invited Joey and Kenneth to join them. They performed I Shall Be Released by Bob Dylan. Joey sang the first verse, followed by each of The Spring Standards singing a verse. Kenneth played electric guitar (first time I’ve seen him do that). Many people in the audience (myself included) sang the chorus with them (we were invited to). Gorgeous version of an old-time favorite song!

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Immediately after, they invited up the entire Meg and Dia band (five members) to sing a high-energy song. There were 11 people on stage for this number. The Spring Standards did all the singing, with everyone else banging away at something (part of the drum set, a tambourine, etc.), making a big sound.

They were on stage for roughly 45 minutes.

I was more intrigued by the initial (mellower) Haiti performance, but there’s little doubt in my mind that this group is filled to the brim with incredibly talented people who mesh really well together. I want/need to explore them more.

Roughly 20 minutes later, the headliners came on stage.

We were really wiped out and would have loved to have just bolted, but I really wanted to get a sense of Meg and Dia.

We stayed for two songs. I’m impressed with their voices. I was impressed with their musicianship as well, but in general, it was just a bit too loud. Great energy and rhythm. I would see them again, but I was glad to get off my feet and hit the sack before midnight.

Speaking of getting off my feet, this was a standing-only show (yes, there are a handful of seats along the side and back). I stood the entire time. Standing for people like Joey and Kenneth is simply ridiculous. That kind of a mellow sound should be savored from the comfort of a chair.

The Spring Standards have the energy and sound to drive people to their feet, but I know that I would prefer to see them in a seated show as well. Meg and Dia can definitely generate the more dance-crowd kind of feel, so I’m not surprised that they would play a room that is standing only. Independent of whether the music fits, we will always prefer venues that are seated.

We attended with three other people (and unexpectedly met two other friends at the show). Before the show, the five of us had a lovely dinner around the corner from Webster Hall (our first time there) at Apiary (also a first for us). Another winning night out! Smile

P.S. Lois dropped her camera on Saturday night and it was acting up a lot last night. Given that today is Cyber Monday, there is a new camera in her very near future. So, the shots above are the last ones you’re likely to ever see from her old, trusty Canon PowerShot 1100 IS. May it rest in peace. This, plus Lois’ vantage point in the few seats in the back, explain the lack of photos.

Jenny Scheinman at Barbes

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Last Wednesday we saw Girlyman and Red Molly perform at City Winery. We were there with five friends. One of them told me before the show that I had to join him some Tuesday to see Jenny Scheinman play the violin at a bar in Park Slope in Brooklyn. She does a residency most Tuesdays and he’s seen her there many times.

On Friday we attended a birthday party in Brooklyn. I spoke to someone I’ve heard about for a long time but had never met. During the conversation, he tells me that I have to see a group called Slavic Soul Party some Tuesday at a bar in Park Slope. I tell him that my friend told me about Jenny Scheinman. He tells me that they play at the same bar, Jenny first, then Slavic Soul Party, most Tuesdays!

That bar is Barbes, on the corner of 9th Street and 6th Avenue in Brooklyn.

The next morning I contact my friend and tell him the small world story. We agree to go see them both on Tuesday (last night).

Jenny is considered to be one of the top violin/fiddle players in the world. She plays many styles, many genres with many different artists/bands. Her Tuesday residency at Barbes is not likely as raucous as some of her other shows (from what I’ve heard), given the tiny room size and that she is likely rarely accompanied by more than one person at Barbes.

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Most of the selections last night were pure (hard core) Jazz, with a bit of Blues thrown in. A number of the songs were written by Jenny, but the rest were old time classics (not that I’d know many if I heard them).

Jenny displayed quite a number of different techniques on the violin, from near-whisper shimmers (spooky and cool) to Bluegrass-style riffs, to orchestral long strokes. She’s a master. Whimsical and serious, depending on her mood. She’s brilliant in every respect.

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The problem for us (Lois and me) is that hard core Jazz doesn’t really do it for us like most other music does. This wasn’t improvisational stuff (which can meander even farther from our likes), it was real songs, but still not melodic enough for us. We were certainly not the typical listener though, as nearly everyone else in the room was in complete rapture.

Jenny was accompanied on every number by Steve Cardenas on electric guitar. Steve was wonderful. When he took a number of leads, he was so fast and interesting. When he played in the background, he was good.

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He played on the smallest amp I’ve ever seen, a ZT:

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Steve Cardenas packing up:

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Jenny called up a guest from the audience (embarrassingly, I didn’t catch the name, Maddy something), that our friend tells me is a star in her own right. She sang two songs with Jenny and Steve accompanying her with them taking turns doing amazing leads themselves.

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All in all, a technically brilliant evening, that didn’t move us musically. I am very glad to have experienced it, and I would actively seek out a Jenny Scheinman show that had a different character/genre to it, but I’m not likely to show up at another Tuesday residency show of hers.

In an unusual twist, Slavic Soul Party canceled their 9pm set (I don’t know why and whether that happens with any regularity). Rather than just rush home, the four of us had a drink at the bar. I had my first Chocolate Martini in so long I can’t recall the last one. It was awesome. I can almost say that the trip to Brooklyn was worth it just for that drink, but the company I was enjoying while drinking it was most definitely the highlight of the evening. Smile

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Mike Campbell at Rockwood Music Hall

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What happens when a nice, smart, funny, talented musician tweets that he is performing his first-ever solo show? Wait, before you answer, what if I tell you that he only has 49 followers on Twitter (I’m one of them)? OK, time’s up, I’ll just give you the correct answer:

People fill up Rockwood Music Hall to support him and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience (unless he lied to us, or to a future audience!). Winking smile Seriously, the place was jammed, so the word spread much faster and further than his Twitter follower count would suggest.

There’s little doubt that Mike Campbell was nervous. Is there any artist in the world that wasn’t when they debuted? The test (of course) is how they handle that nervousness. Mike passed with flying colors.

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He took control of the room with his conversation, not just his music. He turned little slips into funny and memorable moments. For example, he gave an intro to a song, then played the song. Immediately afterward, he asked the crowd if they noticed that the song didn’t match the intro? Oops, he intro’ed a song he was going to play later in the set list. Smile

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Let’s answer the most important question of the night: was the music good?

Yes!

Mike is a very good songwriter. I was impressed that the songs varied as much from each other. Mike is stretching early in trying to say different things, but also say them in different ways. He also has the ability to write songs that grab you the first time you hear them (not as easy as you might think).

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After he played Paper Heart, Lois turned to me and said “Amazing! I love that song!”. The second the show was over, a friend who was standing 10 feet away during the show walked up to me and said “Wow, Paper Heart is a real winner, don’t you think?”. Yes, I think. Smile

Of course, it wasn’t a flawless performance, but it proved to me (hopefully to Mike too) that he made the right decision to do a solo show. I imagine (actually, I’m sure) that with a few more performances under his belt, his delivery will become polished very quickly. He has all of the ingredients.

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He has one song where he scats while playing the identical notes high up on the guitar. It’s awesome (the guitar playing and the perfectly matched scatting). That said, here’s a public suggestion that I think will make it even awesomer (yes, it’s a word, or needs to be!). Mike, you should scat in harmony with the guitar leads. I personally guarantee that it will blow people’s minds!

Mike, if you take my suggestion, I hereby legally forego my co-writing/producing credits and royalties. (Disclaimer: that only goes for that one song, I’ll take full credit and royalties on all of your other songs!) Winking smile

We’re very glad we got to see Mike’s first solo show and look forward to catching more of Mike Campbell!

Going back to my first sentence, I said that Mike was nice, smart and funny (traits that are independent of his artistic talent). I had no doubt that some/all of it had to come from his parents. After the show, Lois and I met Mike’s parents and now I know for sure that he got a lot of it from them. Absolutely lovely people. Good job raising your son! Smile

Edgewise at Walkerspace

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We don’t see plays that often, though 2010 is turning into somewhat of an exception. We typically go to see a friend perform. Last night, we went to see a friend of a friend (not sure we’d go to see a friend of a friend of a friend though).

Edgewise is a play written by Eliza Clark, directed by Trip Cullman and co-produced by PAGE 73 and The Play Company. It is being presented at Walkerspace.

I showed up knowing nothing about the play. Any expectations I had were more due to preconceived notions that kick in when one (or is it just me?) sees some off-Broadway spaces and sets. Before getting into some details, I am thrilled to report that I overwhelmingly liked the play and was extremely impressed by the actors (all of them) and the set, lighting and effects!

There are quite a number of reviews online already (the play officially opened the night before we saw it), reviewed by the AP, The New York Times, with the AP review being picked up widely (Yahoo!, ABC, etc.). Not a single bad review that I could spot, with the AP review quite positive. The New York Times review got it wrong (IMO), which is par for the course in my opinion.

If you want a professional review (rather than one of a rank amateur, me), read this instead of the rest of this post.

The play unfolds through the eyes of three teenagers who work in a fast food restaurant. Often, we (my wife and I) get annoyed at the gratuitous use of cursing (notably the overuse of the F-bomb). Last night, I cringed for the first minute and then realized that if the language had been sanitized, we would hardly be privy to the real conversations that are happening in every teenage-filled fast food restaurant in America. In other words, the dialog became incredibly authentic and integral to the story, very quickly.

What at first appears to be another telling of teen angst quickly switches gears. Something is very wrong in America and it is our job to piece it together through the eyes of these same angst-ridden teens. We’re told just enough to be able to draw quite a wide variety of opinions. The one thing that isn’t in doubt, it’s hellish existence out there on a number of levels.

There’s nothing absurd about the possibility of this becoming a reality in the not-too-distant future here. Just read the Twitter streams of ultra-{both wings}-doomsayers. Even the (supposed) absurdity of showing up to work at a fast food restaurant, or stopping in the drive-through for a burger, amidst the turmoil, is actually a well-placed setting for dealing with the inevitable absurdities in any new and difficult reality.

Rather than leave it 100% to our imaginations (are these pot-smoking teens simply fantasizing about what’s going on out there?), a creative set and terrific effects make the outside reality all too clear. Two additional characters are introduced to show the difference between theory/philosophy and the choices that must be made when faced with a specific situation.

The acting was excellent so I’d like to take the time to say a bit about each one, in the order that they appeared:

Tobias Segal as Marco. Tobias (Toby) was pitch-perfect in each scene. Of all the actors, he was called upon to display the widest range of emotions. His transformations were effective, believable and in the end, even devastating. He plays the shy, love-struck teen as well as he does the pushed-to-the-limit combatant.

Philip Ettinger as Ruckus. Philip had the most lines and was the vehicle for giving us glimpses as to what might be happening outside. His transformation from stoner/loser to in charge was much subtler than Marco’s character, but they were effective nonetheless. Philip needed to have us believe that someone who was stoned a minute ago was now making the toughest decisions of his life. One way that the playwright, director and most importantly Philip accomplished that is by layering what might have been paranoia into the transition until the story unfolds. I was impressed on all accounts.

Aja Naomi King as Emma. Another stellar performance. Aja had a difficult role (IMO). Not only did she have to transform as events unfolded, she had to convincingly show a different character to Ruckus and Marco in the same scene. Reacting to Ruckus one second with a steely resolve, then pivoting and showing a vulnerable side to Marco is tricky. Of the five actors, I wouldn’t be surprised if some in the audience felt that some of Aja’s lines were overacted, but I think she did a superb job of walking an extremely difficult line. She has one big scene where most of the dialog is hers and she completely nails it in my opinion.

Alfredo Narciso as Louis. Wow! I feel like anything else I say will detract from that one word, but here goes anyway. Alfredo might have delivered the best acting performance I’ve ever seen live. Given that 95% of it is delivered in a chair, making it all facial expressions and vocal modulations, is all the more impressive to me. He’s the mystery man in the show, a role that can easily be overplayed. I can’t imagine a better performance for his role.

Brandon Dirden as Paul. Brandon is the last to arrive on the scene but his role is critical to furthering the story. While he’s on stage less than the rest, he too does a wonderful job.

As I noted above, the set is very creative. The effects are excellent if a little overwhelming at times (loud, bright, but exactly to the point).

Of all the actors above, I suspect it’s not an accident that only Alfredo has his own website. I recommend that the others do as well, even if the site does nothing more than link to their IMDB pages. Stake out a home on the net for people to easily find you. I know we’ll be hearing a lot more about each and every one of you!

Finally, a hearty thanks to our friend who suggested we attend this show. It’s running through December 4th, and I recommend that anyone who wants to be challenged to think about the kinds of choices we might make if the world were to fracture just a bit more.

Here’s a photo Lois took of Toby and Philip after the show. We also got to tell Brandon what a great job he did. I wish I had told Alfredo how awesome he was when he walked right by me, but I didn’t react quickly enough.

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