I was looking forward to Sunday’s Open Mike at Godfreys. I had worked hard on a couple of songs in order to trot them out in front of live and friendly audience, figure out if I knew the words, shape an arrangement and have some fun with them.
Things have been dreadfully slow this month so I’ve had some quality time hanging and banging these tunes in my kitchen studio. An old one, Chuck Berry’s Nadine, a tune I’ve monkeyed with, but never mastered, especially the fourth verse. The groove is great but the words have a particular flare that I think I finally distilled, some wonderful phrases like ‘she moves around like a wave of summer breeze’, ‘campaign shoutin’ like a Southern diplomat’, and more.
I also had the chance to tackle a new one from my friend Bill Hall – Rosie is a friend of mine. Again, the phrasing is cool, but very challenging. I haven’t felt up to the effort til the last few weeks. It is a very Jersey song, with references to cars, cruising on Ocean Avenue, tom boys and summertime. I’ve spent a lot of time working on a comfort level on this one and hoped to hone it further a this OM.
I was still dealing with the psychic effects of having my sound system ripped off the night before, so I was hoping to use the set to help me forget about my blues.
I was lucky that my friend Ed McKendry preceded me and asked me to add some mandolin to his tunes. What a pleasure to noodle on his tunes! As I have prevailed on him many times to accompany my tunes, completely unheard and on stage, he asked me to do the same. It was good and great communication on stage.
So, I asked Ed to stay up on stage for my two songs, both, of course, fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants for both of us. Again, great energy.
I started out with Rosie is a Friend of Mine, unannounced but I added a nice reference to Bruce Springsteen’s Jerseyness. Folks started to pick up on it and it was a good ride. It seemed to be a little low, vocally, and pointed out the difference between kitchen key and stage key. Noted…. I muffed a few words (again, noted) but the spirit was very good. Lift off and it set the stage for the rest of the night. It was nice that Bill was in the audience.
I followed with Nadine, one a little less challenging but a good chance to just rock out. Joe Scheller, the guest host, had his sax sitting by the stage, so I invited him to sit in with Ed and myself. He nailed it and the three of us set up the song, I sang the words perfectly and it was a great musical exploration, especially in a folk music club. Great lyrics and groove, live improv and energy. Good stuff.
Then the fun began. Since several of my OM friends have already played Rosie on past Sundays, folks picked up on the event. Dina did her version (a great take on a Melissa Etheridge angle), Mike Duck did his strong version, and, when it came around to Bill Hall, he did his song. It was a wonderful and unique take on the GD OM Community and its support of its own.
It’s nice to witness the ripples tonight.