Archive for October, 2013

Halloween Parade of Talent!

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

The Dick Jokes return to the Sidewalk for a Halloween Spectacular, including an hour of I Heart Boo (where local acts cover local acts), then a sweltering series of Sidewalk stalwarts like Phoebe Novak, Cannonball Statman, Soul Candy, and Yossarian Feeboo (also Trumpet Girl and the aforementioned Dick Jokes).

If you wear a costume, I’ll bet people will look at you.It’s free to get in…

At Last…

Posted on: October 30th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

Wow! Why is this?The Bushwick Book Club has come to Manhattan!

Susan Hwang’s regular thing is crossing the pond into the real New York City, and not its perpetual home at Goodbye Blue Monday.

According to the website:

“Our next show is using My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles as inspiration for new songs.  Come hear what happens when brave songwriting minds collide with stories and conversations from this seminal filmmaker, artist and personality.  We may have to eat his favorite meal in honor of the night: 2 steaks cooked rare, 2 baked potatoes, a whole pineapple and a pint of scotch.”

Acts scheduled: Hilary Downes, Pierre De Gaillande, Julie DeLano, Susan Hwang, Mia Pixley, Ashley Coleman, Jason Perlman, Jonathan Vincent, Arden Rogow Bales, Sweet Sobrette, Jessie Kilguss, Casey Holford, spiritchild, Toby King.

A Perfect Day

Posted on: October 29th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

It was an impromptu Lou Reed night, what with the recent news. Ben Krieger had left on stage the collected lyrics of Lou, but the book was so big, so bulky, so filled with decades of songs, it would have been a difficult book to keep open by anyone but the singer.

No matter; those who knew the songs knew the songs.


The Emperor of Touching You started things out with his original “hit,” “Lou Reed’s Cock,” about his love affair from afar with Laurie Anderson.

Jeff Lewis cajoled the audience into calling Grey Revell for his birthday, then harangued us into respecting Lou Reed as a decidedly New York phenomenon (he seemed to diss Paul Simon and John Lennon) in the process, but I’ll let it slide). Then he pulled out “Sword of Damocles” and “Tell it to Your Heart,” and continued the evening, sketching folks in the corner.

Joe Yoga sang “All Tomorrow’s Parties.”

Jonathan Berger did a riveting rendition of “The Gift,” with Joe Reichel ably backing him on guitar.

No doubt other people did other things, but I was outside for a while. I heard a bit about Reichel’s recent trip all around America. Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime.

Krieger closed out the open stage with what material he could, including songs from the man and his band: “Dirty Blvd” and “Big Sky” from Reed’s solo catalog, “What Goes On” and “Sunday Morning” from the Velvet Underground, and some others. And then it had ended, much as other things have.


Lou Reed

March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013


Where Were You Last Night?

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

Josh Garcia, at the start of his Residency series last Sunday at the Sidewalk cafe, played to a handful of people – and you weren’t one of them.

His stellar songs were heard by so few, which seems sort of unjust. He’s doing his second of three consecutive Sundays on November 3, along with Jonathan Berger (public disclaimer: that’s me), and, just starting a series, is JJ Hayes, who will read words while Michael David Campbell plays music.

This coming Sunday is a blackout night, so there’ll be no electricity supporting the performance, which would be an interesting challenge if, say, any of the artists read all their work from electronic devices. Luckily, that’s not a consideration for Josh Garcia, who you should go to see.

Today was a Strange Day

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

I arrived at the Sidewalk to see some guy  guitar being crowdsurfed throughout the room. The guy being carried was Noah Britton, who, if you lack awareness of this guy, performs occasionally as ACLU Benefit (don’t feel left out. He’s a New Englander; I didn’t know about him either). It was a weekend of tribute shows to the Britton, in celebration of his birthday. I missed most of the tribute, wherein friends and fans covered the canon of ACLU, but I came in time for the man of the hour to perform his own songs in his own incredibly deep voice.

ACLU Benefit sounds like some sort of latter day Magnetiic Field, and, on occasion, would pull out a Stephin Merritt cover. This was during his own aftershow period, when, for hours, Britton would be pulled on stage as random friend and follower would jump up to do some songs. Britton must have been so tired, jumping up and down off the stage, especially now that he’s so old.

It was a good evening. It was a strange evening. An all-new, all-different version of Crabs on Banjo went on around 10.

You can view all the sordid details at

Today was a Good Day

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

Today (or, for those of you who are either sticklers or have gone asleep: yesterday), something incredibly special happened.

John S. Hall performed – and I got to see it with Hamell on Trial.

three baldies

John S. Hall, co-leader of King Missile, absolute leader of King Missile III, and poet extordinaire, does not perform often. Maybe because he’s too good for us, or maybe because he’s busy. I don’t ask about the specifics, but I know a good thing when it happens, and when Ray Brown shared his 9pm slot at the Sidewalk cafe with John S. Hall, I knew that THAT was a good thing.

And I was right.  And it was good. John S. Hall, author of such works as Martin Scorsese, Detachable Penis and The Miracle of Childbirth, did none of those things, did very little I was familiar with, but reaffirmed my faith in East Village art.

You know who else reaffirms my faith in East Village art? Ed Hamell, who performs as the singular sensation of Hamell on Trial. He’s got more albums than you can shake a fist at (though maybe two fists would work), including Ed’s Not Dead, Hamell Comes Alive and The Chord is Mightier Than the Sword (and also some titles that are a bit shorter). He’s grand.

And he was there. They are both huge inspirations to me, the specific artists I most seek to emulate. I was honored that they both spoke to me that night, and was amazed that they took a picture with me.

It’s here.


Poppin’ Cherries an’ Laughin’ ’bout it!

Posted on: October 22nd, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

What’re you doing Wednesday night?

There’s a new event in town at the Sidewalk, and that’s Soce’s First-Timer Stand-Up Show.

Nothing compares to watching someone perform stand-up for the first time. It’s an amazing, wonderful, terrifying life-changing event. These people are putting it all on the line just to prove that they can come out the other end, still kicking. Come out to see the warmest, most uplifting show out there.

Soce has been performing his comedic hip hop at The Sidewalk Cafe since 2003, and he’s excited to host this magnificent event. He has co-hosted a music documentary with Prince Paul, been interviewed on Howard Stern’s Howard 100 News, won a gay hip hop competition on Eminem’s Sirius Shade 45 satellite radio station and toured Germany, London and LA. In addition to keeping things moving with his own adorable jokes, he will also perform improvised freestyles based on audience suggestions during the show. Additionally, professional comedian Jiwon Lee will close things out.

(that’s not Jiwon)

If you’re interested in being part of the first-timer community, or possibly being a contributor in the future, you can find out more through our friends at Facebook – or our enemies at Youtube (though it’s dated; making no reference to the Sidewalk. Fools!).

Tonight… tonight…

Posted on: October 21st, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

It is a strange thing I do tonight, something I’m not at all used to doing.

Tonight, I am not going to the Sidewalk Cafe.

It’s a Monday Night, where the Open Stage has been held for most of the last five years, and notable open mics for close to the last twenty. I’ve been to a lot of them. In recent times, I’ve been to all of them.

But I’m not feeling well; I took off from work today, have been sleeping and reading and listening to music all day long, and, throughout the day, have been considering if I should go out to the club tonight. After hours of consideration, I just decided against going out.

It wasn’t an easy decision. AntiFolk is the closest thing I have to religion; the Sidewalk the closest thing I have to church. Seeing people perform what I hope is their most honest, artistic work, and being able to partake in it, it’s very much of what gives my life meaning. I’ve devoted decades to the club, and the life, and I feel bad missing out on any part of it. There is art to be made, and creativity to be had, just miles from my home, and I’ll be missing it.

I won’t lose sleep over it – mostly because my need for sleep is the main thing keeping me away. And I’m glad that the friends at give me the opportunity to partake in the community from a distance, when I can’t be there.  It won’t be as good as the real thing, but it’ll do in a pinch.

I hope the Open Stage goes well without me; I doubt I’ll be all right without it.

PS: You should go to my second residency show on Sunday, October 27th. It’ll be much better than the last one.



Posted on: October 18th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

It was crowded last night for Lach’s return to the Sidewalk Cafe here in the midst of the 20th year of AntiFolk in the Sidewalk’s back room.

Lach invited a variety of acts – maybe 25 – to open for him before he played a two-hour set to a rhapsodic room. Rhapsodic and packed. I lost my seat several times due to the size of my bladder. It was a night of familiar faces, people who hadn’t been around town for some time, but who were willing to trek out to see the once-a-year day event of Lach! At the Sidewalk! In New York City!

It was a good Lach show. It appears his time performing for Fringe Festival fans has made him a more natural storyteller, able to transition from anecdote to anecdote with amazing ease. Personal, detailed, this was a Lach show for the ages.

And it’ll have to be. Who knows when the man will again return to our shores?



He Saved Every One of Us!?

Posted on: October 16th, 2013 by Jon Berger No Comments

Did I mention that Lach is coming to town?

It’s true – and it’s already happened. Lach showed up at the Sidewalk on Monday, to promote his show tomorrow night. Are you gonna be there?

You should. There’s gonna be a SuperHoot, a collection of the best and the brightest that AntiFolk has to offer (I’m on the bill, natch), all people that Lach asked to precede him. That’s from eight til ten.

And then, the main event, the guy who started it all, the Thinning Man, the man with one name… he gets up there, and he’ll, well, I guess he’ll sing some songs.

Lach is in town! Come on out!