Archive for May, 2013

Inciteful, I guess…

Posted on: May 31st, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

Have you seen this?

The Gruntled Curmudgeon recently read an expose (advice column? Humor piece? I don’t know…) about what it is to be a Acoustic Solo Singer Songwriter (or ASSS – he got that part right).

While I’m unclear what he wanted to accomplish with the piece (it’s incendiary, confrontational to an obviously maligned community, yet ends by being encouraging), he makes good points. What are those points? Are you really incapable of reading the damn piece yourself?

He ends up providing a sense of scale of what you can accomplish in the world of solo performance – though few of the people I know insist on dogmatically staying solo. Most singer/songwriters are independent until they can afford mutual dependence – sort of like buying a house, or getting married.But The Gruntled Curmudgeon provided advice, or strategy, or something, to maintain a life as an ASSS.

He also provided this image:

Who could ask for anything more?

May! Hmm…

Posted on: May 28th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

The Open Stage’s Monday Night MayHem series wrapped up last night, with the backline event.

Equipment and amps were out for various and sundry to use to their heart’s content. Drums were begging to be played – and they were.

Because it was the Memorial Day Monday, the turnout was light, but there were still some heady performances by partial bands and impromptu collaborations to give the evening some electricity and eclecticsm. What happened? Well…

Ben Krieger (on guitar) and Peter Ingles (on drums) backed Jonathan Berger (who is me) in some old JUANBURGUESA material, that never gets done because it sucks without a beat.

Ingles soon  joined Charles Mansfield for a louder variation of Mansfield’s thoughtful material, then drummed again for Beau Alessi to form a primitive version of Robot Princess,

Jesse Cannonball Statman and Kris Thomson played as Cannonball Statman and Nikki Minaj’s Big Boobs. Thomson drummed for Thunderkets, comprised of some of the quieter members of Soul Candy.

Lonnie Rocks drummed for Justin. Darill Forde from Thunderkets drummed for Lonnie. And Mike Shoykhet jumped up to join the Rhino House Band – the only power trio I saw of the night. It was loud. It was fun. It was the end of Monday Night MayHem.

As booker Ben Krieger said on Facebook today, “Backline Night was awesome. Also, I’m never going to do it again.”

Monday MayHem 2013 – the Final Chapter

Posted on: May 26th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

Mike Shoyket did this – show some love, a’ight?

By now, you should know the drill: Each Monday this month, something special has been going on at the Open Stage. First up, people wrote songs special for the night. The second event feature video support. Third week: lots of local acts covered lots of local acts. Now, finally, the fourth week, the piece de resistance (sic): Backline Night.

Yep, all the equipment that the Sidewalk has to offer will be out and about this Monday (May 27, 2013), so that, if you want to do “Brown Sugar” the way it should be done (with electric guitars up the ying yang), you get to do it.

If you want to do “Halleluiah” the way it should be, done, you’ll stay in Connecticut. It’s likely we’ll see more accomplished players coming up over and over again to jam with you, but if you actually know talented musicians who know your originals, maybe you should bring them along, to show us how it oughtta be done.

Backline Night – it’s gonna be electric.

Remember This (Part 1)

Posted on: May 26th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

I was at a house party yesterday, and, as always happens during an AntiFolk home event, the guitar gets passed and the musicians start caterwauling.

I am ambivalent about this practice.

When I’ve made the time to socialize with people (which is rare; I’m usually at some small club or another witnessing music), I would like to socialize with them. If I wanted to be at some small club witnessing music, I wouldn’t have come to the party.

It bothers me less when there’s a space set aside for music, and no expectation that people stop their organic social activities to pay attention to someone they did not come out to pay attention to. The music’s in the back, the party’s in the front (A reverse mullet, if you will). In that scenario, I’m not inconvenienced by someone’s ego-gratifying center-stage seizing set.

Certainly, the hosts of a party have every right to include any element they want, including ritual sacrifices, back-shaving, or live performances. It’s the droit du seigneur, I guess. They have every right to include what they want, just as I have every right to write what I want. Disagree? Feel free to post in the Comments section…

Remember This (Part 2)

Posted on: May 26th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

What’re you doing this Memorial Day weekend?

I’m doing what Jesse Cannonball Statman tells me to do.

He’s put together this overstuffed Blackout Night at the Sidewalk for tonight, which includes Janna Pelle referencing Katy Perry more than either deserves and Soul Candy doing whatever it is they do, and then a closed mic segment featuring the best and the brightest of AntiFolk (and me).

It’s gonna be the most memorable thing I’ll do all day.


Grey Ku

Posted on: May 24th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

Recently, AntiFolk emigrant Grey Revell, lately of Charlotte, NC, went on a tiny tour of the south, all the way down to Argentina. He offered to comment on his travels, but didn’t have much time in South America, so provided some haiku when he had time.

Here’s what Grey had to say:

Mary Magdalene

the only Saint in the church

with her hair let down.

There’s nothing to do

but watch them sing Zeppelin

by the old Fountain.

John Lee Hooker’s voice

makes it easy to walk through

Puerto Madera

The drunks and I sat

trading our favorite songs

as two AM struck.

A beautiful day

everything in its right place

I want to go home.

Monday MayHem – Part Tres

Posted on: May 19th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

illustration by Mike Shoyket, of Land War in Winter, Soul Candy, and Mike Shoyket.


Every Monday, booker/host/bon vivant Ben Kreiger has opted to do something special at the Open Stage. We’ve experienced a songwriter challenge and an audio-visual catastrophe, now comes, for Monday, March 20, 2013:  I Heart You.

Krieger’s put together such events before, but usually for a scheduled show, where volunteers choose to cover the material of another local performer, so that acts that would otherwise not be known can get a little recognition. Krieger encourages it to be people that the artist knows; I say it should be someone on the scene – whether historical or current. I guess there’s no authority that’ll stop you if you cheat.

Come with a song – or poem, or joke – from another artist that you respect. Do it. Spread the love. It’s gonna be great.

Mrs. Art

Posted on: May 19th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

As Ray and I sat in the back of the makeshift temple, he asked me, “Is this the first AntiFolk Wedding you’ve been to?”

“Ah…” I thought, “I was at Dan and Rachel’s a couple of years ago. I missed Erin and Dan’s wedding that same season. I actually married the members of Chicken Little with some fake-ass certification. But the big one I remember was Patsy and Grey, back in 2000.”

“Were any of them local?” Ray asked.


We were just a couple of blocks from the Sidewalk, which is another location that Arthur Medrano and Shiloh Levy were considering tying the knot. They ended up instead at Gathering of the Tribes, where the outside world was dreary and depressing, but inside, spirits were high as a couple consecrated their loved before witnesses from as far as the Bronx (Maybe further, too).

AntiFolkers were in attendance, as well as family, and Steve Cannon, patron saint of Tribes. It was a local occasion from a couple that have making music together for some time already as the duo Missed Art.

The food was fantastic.

Shameless Show

Posted on: May 19th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

Every now and then, Anne Husick puts on a show. She’s been involved in the world of AntiFolk longer than I have, which is, in some cultures, the very definition of insanity. A member of Lach products The Banned and The Sextet Offensive, early member of Bill Popp & the Tapes, founder of Shameless, member of Lenny Molotov and the Illuminoids, Zane Campbell’s band, Tricia Scotti, and so much more (She was in Band of Susans and played with Ronnie Spector. God knows what else). Husick’s been everywhere and done everything.

Now, she plays in Red Gretchen, and puts on one night a month at the Sidewalk. For the first time in a long time, she played a set of her own songs.

She has to do that more often. She’s an excellent side player, can do whatever needs to be done for whatever any band needs, and that same eclectic flexibility can be heard in her own sets. She played early, and she played short.

Maybe next month, she’ll give herself an hour.

Manhattan Magic

Posted on: May 15th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments
I wasn’t there for it, but I there was some highfalutin muckety-muck  location scout for “a network TV show” in the Sidewalk recently. I hear there was talk of filming in the club there this summer – let’s hope it doesn’t inconvenience the AntiFolk Festival… I haven’t heard what the actual TV show is, but I was able to retrieve some scrap paper left behind after the scout was in the back room. Coincidence? Maybe not.
Episode 47
Manhattan Magic
Luxurious hotel room with panoramic view of Times Square. Rayna James is on the phone.
Rayna – …I love you too. I’ll be home on Thursday. Tell your dad he’s manipulative and two-timing, although unnaturally handsome. Alright girls get your homework done – love you. Goodnight.
Knock on the door. Rayna’s manager Bucky sticks his head in.
Bucky – Don’t forget Rayna, we leave for the airport at 6 a.m.
Rayna – I know Buck. Hey Buck. I’ve got this new song I’ve been working on and I’m dying to get it in front of an audience. When I was living here in ’97 we used to go down to the Sidewalk Cafe for that sort of thing. I wonder if they still have sex in the basement there. Hey, let’s go down and see Latch.
Cut to Sidewalk Cafe. On the stage a magician is making a menorah float. 
Magician – Thank you for your applause. (he finishes the trick)
Latch – that’s Irving the Impressive, ladies and gentlemen. Next up is Rodent, on deck is Squeaky Floors, on double deck, City Farm, batting cleanup – Jon Berger.
Rayna approaches Latch, who ignores her and pretends to be busy with lots of important stuff. Finally…
Latch – Hey look what the private Gulfstream Jet dragged in. Still struggling to make ends meet in Nashville?
Rayna – now Latch, be nice – I thought I’d come down and try out a song —-
She pauses- with a catch in her throat and a sparkle in her eyes
— and see you for old time’s sake.
Latch – Rayna – that was a long time ago.
Rayna – Don’t flatter yourself M. C. – Hey you got anyone here who can play the piano?
Latch – the magician is also a songwriter – Hey Irving you want to play with Rayna James?
Irving – Me? Sure. Wait, What? I don’t know. I mean I’m really not that good at the spur of the moment. What if I screw up? Sheesh –  What am I talking about? Rayna James is hot…but isn’t she married to some two-timing, manipulative unnaturally handsome guy? Or is that just one of those sham showbiz marriages? Maybe if I play for her, then I’ll show her some tricks and we’ll write a song together and fall in love…But what trick would I do? I just don’t know!!! Ohhh, life – why do you take me on this torturous and complicated path!!??
Latch – Shut up Irving or I’ll get Dizozza. Ladies and gentleman on double deck our old friend Rayna James ….
Rayna hands Irving a lead sheet. 
Dissolve to the two of them playing an exquisitely beautiful song called “Picking Up the Pieces” that plays over a video montage perfectly summarizing the situation of each character: Rayna is shown walking through the park with Deacon-picking up the pieces of their last emotional argument, Gunnar has just smashed his guitar because he is very deep and frustrated – so he is “picking up the pieces” while Scarlett’s eyes grow wider than humanly possible, Juliette is picking up the pieces of her mother’s drug paraphernalia. Irving is picking up the pieces of an elaborate magic trick that he keeps accidentally dropping on the floor, and Jon Berger is picking up pieces of fried schnitzel. Characters named Ambrose, Rattlesnake, Gustav, and Luther also do things.
The song ends and Rayna and Irving are heading off stage.
Rayna- Hey not bad Irving. This used to be my hangout. (Alluringly) – do people still have sex in the basement.
She grabs his bow tie and starts pulling him toward the stairs – Just as they reach the bottom of the staircase Rayna spots Deacon
Rayna – What are you doing here?
Deacon – Same as you I suppose. On top of that it seems that mainly I’m here to complicate your life and also to be unnaturally handsome. Plus, I love you.
Rayna – Deacon – I was about to have sex with a magician. You just spoiled it.
Deacon – sorry Rayna, but I am very sincere and I always tell the truth. Hey magician – do people still have sex in the basement.
Irving – I think it’s usually the sound equipment room.
Rayna and Deacon head upstairs, followed by the magician. Rayna is torn – pulled in different directions by her emotional ties to Deacon, her history with Latch, and her lust for Irving. 
In the background of the shot a large bald man is gesticulating on stage and we hear the words of his brokenhearted poetry….fade out.
The next morning, 6 am. Rayna, Juliette, Bucky, and other members of the tour are gathering in the lobby of the hotel loading their luggage, etc. The elevator opens and giggling is heard. Out spill Rayna and Irving–who is wearing his tuxedo from the night before with the unfurled bow tie hanging around his collar. 
Rayna – Well, that certainly was magic.
Irving – Yes, but it was NO illusion doll.
Rayna- I’m really glad I met you Irving.
Irving – Aww, sweetheart, the pleasure’s mine. And don’t forget my credit on the song. See you soon country girl.
Irving kisses her on the forehead and starts to walk away. He turns back and they kiss passionately. Irving walks out the front door of the hotel with new confidence as a jaunty version of “Picking up the Pieces” begins to play. Rayna looks at him wistfully as he walks away. Fade to credits.