The Movie, The Shining: Scary. Fun. Gets better every time. Has words written backwards in lipstick.
Open Mic: Scary. Fun. Gets better every time. Has words that are sometimes forgotten, but never lip-synched.
Although comparisons between The Shining and open mic performances can be made, last night's open mic at Cafe Tremolo was more like It's a Wonderful Life. Surrounded by good people, I felt very rich, indeed. There was no tip jar to be seen, but plenty of good will to go around. The place was packed, and people really connected. Best open mic I've ever experienced.
The music of the evening included blues, Americana, jazz, rock, and impassioned folk. A couple of virtuoso jazz guitarists (Peter and Troy) warmed up the crowd. Next up was an older guy from West Virginia who kind of looked like Santa Claus in a cowboy hat. He sang some good country honky-tonk and accompanied himself on electric guitar, backed up by Oscar Fuentes on sax.
Then the guitarists were back, with Matt Pirc (Peter's son) on drums. Matt is a college student carrying 26 credits, double majoring in philosophy and music, I think. He's a genius on those drums.
We were up next, with Chuck back on keyboards after a long hiatus. He surprised some of our fellow musicians, who thought he was only a guitar player. Despite my nerves before going on, I'm always relaxed once I open my mouth. It helped that I was up there with two very talented veteran musicians, Chuck on keyboards and Pat Caulley on electric bass.
We were followed by blues singer "J.R." Rodriguez, just back from a few weeks off. J.R. is usually a solo act, accompanying himself on guitar, but last night when he learned that Oscar (now on electric guitar) and Pat (still on electric bass) were up for jamming, he decided to just sing. Chuck joined them on drums to complete the supergroup. I especially liked their version of Stormy Monday.
A couple of other acts followed, one a young guy who had brought about eight of his friends to listen, and one good blues guitarist from Phoenix, who was the spitting image of Ralph Fiennes, if Ralph Fiennes had a ponytail and played guitar. This guy took on the daunting task of playing Hendrix, and did it very well.
Last on the bill was our new friend, Pete Covitz, who ended the evening on a high note by playing three originals that we liked a lot. He's a good guitarist and he sings with a straightforward style that reminds me a lot of Bruce Springsteen. Just before he began to play, Chuck asked Pete if his songs were originals. Pete paused for a split-second and then replied, "Everything I do is original." He doesn't hesitate to interact with the audience, stopping a couple of bars into one song to say, "Oh, I forgot, I wrote this one, too," and interrupting himself during another one to say, "This part actually happened." I didn't catch all the words to his third song, "Someone should make a movie of my life," but I hope I hear it again because I want to know what that was all about.
So if you get a chance, come out to Tucson's Cafe Tremolo on a Sunday night for open mic. The cast of characters never disappoints!