Monday, March 1, 2010

The (Debut) Ultimate Thursday Open Mic at Cafe Caffeine

Before it fades into the mists of my ever-diminishing memory, a brief recap of the first Ultimate Thursday Open Mic at Cafe Caffeine, which I hosted last week (2/25 if you're keeping track). Besides a small coterie of friends who helped me out by appearing and performing some terrific tunes were a few locals and one fellow, Redeye Carl (or "RC"), who happened to be in town that day having traveled from the Houston area. RC kicked off the evening with some finger picked, bluesy numbers. Following RC came the "Cougar Jones Band," a trio of guitar, (Rickenbacker) bass (1970s vintage, blue, yum) and hand-held drum, the name of which I've inconveniently forgotten, but Brad Johnston would know...(Brad?). "Not all our songs are in minor keys," offered Cougar, and the combo proceeded to play Jerry Jeff Walker's "Hill Country Rain."

Louise Richardson, local light -- or light opera? -- took the stage for a 15-song medley she sang a cappella in about six minutes (previewing her musical that debuts at Cafe Caffeine in April)! We got her back onstage for an encore later in the evening and I defy you to find anyone else in the history of music to end a rhyming couplet with "Raisinetted" (from a cinematic number she sang).

The next local to hit the stage was "Smokey," short for "Southernmost Smoke," who performed on harmonica. The man's encyclopedic: Not only in terms of knowing the history of the instrument but the way he played it, bending notes and creating a theramin effect by waving his hand wildly about the air near the harmonica. I was a little concerned when he left and then returned for "today's paper," as the rough-hewn harpist looks a little like the sort of fellow who'd use it for a blanket. Not, I'm told, the case. I'm looking forward to hearing him play next month.

David Jones and Brad Johnston performed songs new and slightly used. They're part of the local outfit, Crystal Flavola, which, they say, is gearing up to start gigging again in a neighborhood near you in the coming months.

A fellow named Gary Devries dropped by and borrowed a guitar for a couple of dulcet tunes, and then Scottie Hickman and I took our turns with tunes new and slighly used. We'll be joining the other Late Joys on Saturday night at Jovita's for the band's sorta-annual birthday gig.

Once we'd gone 'round once there was time for most of us still in the cafe to have another turn. I closed the proceedings with a sloppy "We're Going Steady Now," but it felt good to play; take that!

Things I learned: clearly I need an alias. The night effervesced with the likes of "RC," "Cougar," "Smokey"...all fine monikers of a rather rough-hewn Texan nature. I'll take suggestions if you've got 'em. Plus I think I should dress up a little. The evening couldn't really get any more informal, but it'd be nice to introduce the performers as a slightly more dapper MC. We'll see. Maybe I'll wear a hat.

I reckon next time (3/25 if you're still keeping track) we'll have some more performers; I hope to see you there, too: Sign up is at 7pm, and the open mic runs from 7:30-10pm. Cafe Caffeine has a fine selection of beers, coffee, food and a congenial atmosphere. Don't miss it!

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