Archive for January, 2014

Eat it

Posted on: January 29th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Monday night featured menu exploration at the Sidewalk Cafe, where anyone who ordered any of the new dishes on the revamped menu would receive a drink, gratis. I said it: GRATIS!

Lots of people had lots to eat – you could see it on all the tables. Me? I tried to Chicken Schwarma – which was pretty fantastic. It seemed a lot healthier than my typical bacon cheeseburger, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. I don’t know which item to check out next – though I’ve heard pretty good things about the Hummus…

If He Had

Posted on: January 28th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Pete Seeger‘s dead.

He’s got pretty much nothing to do with AntiFolk, except as a bulwark of the community that AF rose to react against.

But Pete Seeger was a vital part of American music, a link between the titans of the earlier 20th Century, a spirited and liberal artist. His life helped create so many of the conditions from which our modern musics sprang.

Pete Seeger will be missed.

Saved by the Chirp

Posted on: January 27th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

When she bothered to show up last night, I asked Sarah Turk why she had missed my amazing show.

“Well,” she said, “I was doing school work, and then I was being interviewed by 3D Radio Adelaide.”
“I’ll let it go this time,” I growled.
Turns out, Turk’s latest album (Saved by the Storm, under her super-secret alias Bird to Prey) is one of 3D Radio Adelaide’s Top 101 albums of 2013 (of course, that’s Australian 2013, so who knows what means in America?).
She’s been featured elsewhere for something or other. I mean, whatever.
Still, looks like that bird’s about to fly. It may be her coattails I have to ride to get anywhere in this business…

Saturday Night? All Right…

Posted on: January 26th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Starting off Saturday night, Daniel Harnett played with his new trio – along with guest piano-ing from Lee Feldman. Both Harnett and Feldman has some 1990s presence in the AntiFolk community.

Now, Harnett has a beard and Feldman has a hat, showing just how much a decade and a half can change people.

Harnett’s pretty prolific, and, though he seemed to repeat some material from his November set, I got the sense that the trio is learning more of his backlog of material – both acoustic and hard rocking.There’s a mania in a lot of his vocal styling, pretty fairly encapsulated in the late-in-the-set, “I Want To Know What All Your Buttons Are For.”

More to come from these guys – I hope.

The Replacements

Posted on: January 23rd, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Remember when you went to that Beau Alessi show last night after a pair of sets from Alex Rubin and Eva Rubin, but then Beau had cancelled (some kind of sickness – or so he claimed), and you felt really disappointed, because you’d read all about it in this blog, and you’d planned your whole week around the new songs that Beau was gonna debut, and you’d come all the way to the Sidewalk from Altoona (or Poughkeepsie, or whatever outer borough you call home), but then you got to experience surprise sets from Albert Goold (of Solid Goold) and Jesse “Cannonball” Statman (of Cannonball Statman)?

That was something, wasn’t it?


Who Watches the Watcher?

Posted on: January 22nd, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

The host posted online before the open mic the following: “If you want to possibly get your picture in a certain well-known magazine, this would be a good night to stop by the Monday Open Stage at Sidewalk.”

The people listened, or read, or did whatever it is people do that results in them trudging out in the pre-snow weather to for their random sign-up opportunity.

There was an excited number of people out – many perhaps unaware of the photographer – until the photographer showed up.

Then, for the next hour and a half, the show was shared between the act on the stage and the act that joined them on stage.



No one spent much reacting to the photographer, but between the artist and his assistant, it was a distraction nonetheless. All for the good of the club, perhaps.

Some were more excited than others. “I convinced the photographer that Peter Ingles is the most important person in the scene,” Jen Kaplan gleefully reported, “and then they took lots of photos of him. I bet my Inglewood recommendation will get him in the Times. ”

We’ll see. The picture man seemed pretty interested in the Jesse Statman, too.


Who knows what, if anything, will make the cut?

Goin’ to a Beau Beau!

Posted on: January 21st, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Tomorrow night, you get the chance to experience AntiFolk star Beau Alessi in his natural environment. Not with a band propping him up with lead guitar, bass drums and occasional keytar, but as a solo performer, belting out songs.

Despite rave reviews from Alessi’s band’s latest work, Teen Vogue, you will not hear the familiar songs on Wednesday at ten. According to Alessi, “I will not be doing any songs from the album. I booked this extremely rare and exciting solo gig to try out a lot of new material.

“I’m testing stuff out… hopefully, we’ll end up learning all of it with the band, but maybe I’ll realize on Wednesday that one (or all) of the songs STINK.”

The audience gets to judge, assessing the material with the artist. If you’re afraid Alessi will decide a crappy song has made the cut, come on out to the show and make your voice heard.
“Like I always say, sometimes you just don’t know if something’s good or band until you perform it at Sidewalk Cafe.”


Downtown Sunday Night!

Posted on: January 19th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Tabi played for a packed house – well, packed for 6 o’clock on a Sunday. That is not a slot fit for man nor beast. But Tabi’s fans might be neither, since there were no spare seats when she played her soulful jams. A band, featuring bass, drums, and some electronic percussion )and an occasional background vocalist and sister, rounded out the sound.

While introducing “Move a Muscle,” Tabi said, “For those of you who know me – you all know me, right? This song was written for the Muscular Dystrophy Association; two big parts of my life are music and advocacy. All proceeds that I make through my music go to my advocacy. So, to muscular dystrophy.”

The crowd took a solemn turn, so Tabi said, “I could tell a joke?” which she sort of did.

“Move a Muscle” featured the painful – yet well-harmonized – lines “I can’t do anything; I can’t stop it.”

At the end of her set, Tabi said, “Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story.” She then closed the set with a brand new song called “New Day.”

Walking Wounded

Posted on: January 15th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Wish Sanjay well. He just had knee replacement surgery, which really should be for an older man, but Sanjay’s lived a hard life.

Sanjay Kaul is a good fifty percent of  the band Lunchin’ which was a core band in the late nineties hereabouts. In 1998, they had their self-titled CD release in the club. Maybe you heard of it. If not, this might job your memory:

They were a good time. They play a little bit less these days, perhaps partially because it hurts Sanjay to walk (or maybe guitarist/vocalist Alan Brock’s two kids keep him down. Who knows?). But now that Sanjay’s getting healthier, maybe you can see them again sometime soon. Or see them for the first time; who knows?

Private Eyes

Posted on: January 14th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

There’s more to say about this Open Stage, but I suspect the best part of the night was well after I departed – proving, once again, that if you don’t stay until the end, you’re a sucka.

When Ben Krieger, outgoing Master of all Music at Sidewalk, did his closing set after every act had dared the stage, he did so with the accompaniment of Jim Flynn’s drone.

“Did anyone get pictures?” Krieger asked, perhaps forgetting that the device itself records memories for the entire family.

Ivan Baddboi said it was “Mucho fabuloso!” and went on to declaim “You guys were like the new Simon & Garfunkel: Kreiger & Drone! ”

You missed it. Let it be on your head – no, not the drone…