Archive for March, 2014

Open Stage Antics

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Jolia, a poet, tried something new tonight. She strapped on an electric and played some kind of cover.

How long will it be before she gives up words entirely, and becomes another AniFolk songster?

Poetry loses too many to the siren song of… song, I guess. This is what happens when too much music pollutes the writer’s thought process.

I just hope it turns out well for Jolia, now that a guitar is pulling her strings.

Keys Boared

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

The start of a jazz night at the sidewalk featured people pigging out at the piano. Peter Dizozza challenged himself, asking how many songs he could fit in his set. When the next act asked Dizozza to extend, he went through what felt like a gazillion songs in his hour-plus stage-time.

Following, Barton Lewis celebrated his birthday prematurely with his typical song and dance. Though billed as a Lewis + New Medicine show, it was all Lewis, all night – until he was done.

Quite a night it was – good for what ails you.

Inside Out

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

Very late to the game, I just saw Inside Llewyn Davis.

It was good, a fascinating representation of an artist fighting for his artistic soul, even when he questions if it’s worth the battle. No doubt most artists who play clubs like ours go through such existential questions. It’s fun to see that the same crises existed 50 years ago, and a relief to imagine that any day, a savior may come to hammer a great scene out of our component parts.

The soundtrack was neat, too.

Things Fall Apart

Posted on: March 25th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

In the last few weeks, we’ve been hearing a lot of our cousin-clubs being threatened with closure. A Gathering of the Tribes, down past C, is about to have what is most likely it’s last Catweazle event, and Bushwick’s Goodbye Blue Monday is looking for backers to maintain itself after projected rent increases. These places that serve a parallel artistic community to the Sidewalk Cafe may soon be out of commission.

That sucks.

I wish there was more to say. Most New Yorkers are aware of the changing flavor of the city, and how so many of the things that have brought so many people to town are now being forced out. The times they are a’changin’ indeed. It remains to be seen if people can use their dollars to vote for the institutions they believe in. Goodbye Blue Monday is trying that now. We’ll see how well the public will support them. I hope they do.

We should fight for the things we love.

The Departed and the Returned

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Ben Krieger was too sick for his own open stage, so new head honcho Somer Bingham filled in. When Somer started the one-song wonder round, sometime after ten pm, she introduced Neesa Sunar to the stage.

Neesa hasn’t been able to play the Sidewalk for a little over a year. She had to borrow a guitar to get her groove on, but it worked fine. It may be another year before we see her again, but I hope not.

Neu Reekie

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

I hope somebody’s going to the Scottish showcase tonight. I don’t know what it means, but it comes with the much-sought Lach stamp of approval, and will feature people from a wild and confusing land where red-heads rule.


I don’t even understand the title of the event. This is going to be so strange…

Everybody’s Crying Mercy

Posted on: March 18th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

The civilians were out – and by out, I mean they weren’t around. The Open Stage was filled with familiar faces, while too few new bodies took up space.  The absence of others was strange on a St. Patrick’s Day, which normally has bars filled with people doing whatever it is people do in bars. But all of Avenue A seemed somewhat empty this particular evening.

Maybe it was the temperatures, or an extensive weekend of green-themed celebration, or maybe everyone was on Avenue B rather than Avenue A. Any way you slice it, the Sidewalk was subdued on March 17, while comics, singers, and spoken wordists took the stage to impress.

Host Ben Krieger encouraged everyone to perform in brogue, but artists few and far between took him up on that. Most accents found over the course of the night were more natural than that.

…It’s My Birthday Too, Yeah!

Posted on: March 16th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

AntiFolk Existing Expat Ben Krieger celebrated his birthday with a quiet show, featuring some quiet acts like jazz-punk Fayaway, pop-punk Robot Princess, and funk-punk Soul Candy.

Before that, though, there were some acoustical acts. Graham Smith, once of Kleenex Girl Wonder, played an early set, along with former birthday girl Debe Dalton and a duo version of Meaner Pencil. Krieger’s divided the acoustic and electric portions of the evening, and, though his set was on the more settled side, he did play such sizzlers as “Where Were You When I Was Seventeen” and the excellent “Lightning Man.”

It was another good birthday night. I encourage you to have been there.

You Say It’s Your Birthday?

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

It was a drunken mess – at least from the birthday girl – who forgot songs on several occasions, starting and stopping and explaining and excusing. Since the crowd was there to celebrate with grand dame Debe Dalton, though, much was forgiven, and then, completely exonerated at the end of the set, when she asked for honorary Dalton Family singers to join her for the fairly recent anthem “Keep on Going.”

After the voices rose and fell together, Dalton kept the band together for the set closing “Pack up your Sorrows,” the Richard and Mimi song from a couple years back.

It was sloppy and raucus and communal – just like a hoot should be.

The Birthdays

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Well, it’s happening – again. In immediate rapid succession, two of the Sidewalk institutions are getting older, and celebrating with weekend shows.

Debe Dalton puts together her annual birthday celebration this Friday, March 14. She will be, by best accounts, sixteen years old. Kale Records acts will play, and perhaps some others to boot.

The next night, Ben Krieger celebrates his 68th birthday, with acts including Graham Smith and Meaner Pencil.

Interestingly, each birthday celebrant will play during the other’s birthday night, as part of a “birthday exchange.”

A splendid time is guaranteed for all – with or without horses.