Archive for the ‘Monday’ Category

Summer AntiFolk Festival – Night 4.5 (Open Stage)

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

Wild night at the Open Stage.

There were loads of new performers, a crowd bigger than most have seen on a Monday for some time. The show was beginning to wrap up around two, which was about the time I found the contents of my bag – some of them – strewn about the basement.

I’d been robbed.

I’ve been coming to the club for over twenty years now, and, while my knapsack has been occasionally misplaced, it’s never been stolen. Once, I thought it was, but someone called me that night to apologize for taking my bag by mistake. I ended up getting a job out of it. It was a crappy job.

My bag’s never been stolen at the club before. I’ve been incredibly lucky, and knowing a bunch of people around, I always assume someone is looking out for my stuff. Even though there were strangers and strange people roaming around, I left my bag unaccompanied on many occasions. Now I’ve paid the price.

There was a particularly sketchy guy darting in and out of the back room; I’ve decided he’s probably the culprit, but it’s not like I know his name.So my stuff’s gone.

Still, lots of really cool acts at the club – not even so many promoting their festival shows. Just a whole bunch of newbies, trying to present their material.

So there you go.

Of Things to Come

Posted on: August 5th, 2014 by Jon Berger

A strange Monday night open stage. including a strange cast of characters foreshadowing what may well be a particularly strange AntiFolk Festival.

Poets read confrontational poems about each other, rappers tried to go up multiple times, artist after AntiFolk artist plugged show after show after show in the week-plus Summer AntiFolk Festival, starting in just a couple of days.

Probably the biggest name performing was John S. Hall, who promoted his Friday appearance as host of the middle part of the evening. He wrote pieces he’d written throughout the day, and stunned the crowd with his magnificence.

Probably the biggest physical act performing was Jonathan Berger, who weighs close to three hundred pounds. He doesn’t look it though.

With lots of new names in this year’s Festival, and a new booker putting it together, it all looks exciting and new. We’ll see how it plays out, of course…

Monday Night

Posted on: July 8th, 2014 by Jon Berger

Sometimes, a guy just needs something, and sometimes, a girl just needs to give it to him.

photo by Mimi Oz

Gentleman hippie John Murdock let his hair hang low, and something had to be done, so Rebecca Florence stepped up to the plate and cleaned him up. Now Murdock is clean and easy to look at, but is still telling us all about the effed up world we live in.

Thanks, Rebecca. That’s a way to spend your time at the Open Stage!

Open Stage Antics

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by Jon Berger

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.

Posted on: March 11th, 2014 by Jon Berger

At the open mic, Sam Barron did a cover of Debe Dalton. It’s a good time for that, as, this Friday, Debe turns 62. Frigging sixty two! She’s been in the Sidewalk community for over ten years, though she had made open mic appearances in an earlier decade. Girl gets around. Anyway, you could have seen it / heard it if you were viewing Gander, or if you’d actually gone out to the Open Stage. A lot of people did.

There’s always next week, but by then, Debe’ll already be old – er.

Banjo X

Posted on: February 10th, 2014 by Jon Berger

Ten years of Debe Dalton? Can it be true?

Yep. Ten years ago, Debe Dalton, banjo troubadour, began her residency at the Sidewalk Cafe – a residency that has dimmed, but never diminished.

She’ll be doing a set at the open mic, to commemorate these many years of open mic’ing.

Go for the show; stay for your number.


Tonight… tonight…

Posted on: October 21st, 2013 by Jon Berger

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.


Where Were They?

Posted on: October 15th, 2013 by Jon Berger

The Where Are They Now Open Stage was an interesting exercise, almost guaranteed to fail. With 20 years of entertainment history how could someone versed in the world on AntiFolk help but be disappointed by those that didn’t show up.

AntiFolk did come out of the woodwork, though.

Young Nate Flaks returned to the club after, he said, 100 days off.

Lach was in the room after a much longer break. The former host, booker, and instigator of music at the Sidewalk did a couple of new songs in preparation for his Thursday night gig back in the club he made infamous.

I saw other faces that don’t often frequent the club, a coterie of orignal AntiFolkies in the back of the club, but, for the most part, the old familiar faces were few and far between.Why?

Maybe because they’re old, and were afraid to be seen by all the fresh, young upstarts. Perhaps those that don’t play small clubs anymore are either too big or too out of practice to care about such a thing. Maybe the invites were sent too last minute.

Whatever the reason, it was good to relive some history, but it would have been nice if there was more of that history – live, at the club

Where Are They Now?

Posted on: October 10th, 2013 by Jon Berger

Next Monday night, on October 14, the Sidewalk Cafe will host it’s “Where Are They Now?” Open Stage, invited various and sundry, far and near, gone and forgotten, to come out of the woodwork and sign up for a chance to be vaguely recalled.

Old-timers and also-rans are invited to return to the scene of the crime, where they can play a song or two or make a statement or two. Booker and MC Ben Krieger is collecting a veritable Who’s Who of names to bring back into the Sidewalk, if only for this one night. You can follow the event before it happens through it’s Facebook event page, right here:

It’s gonna be something – and it’s gonna be something else.

If Not Here, Where? If Not Now, When?

Posted on: August 19th, 2013 by Jon Berger

In the wake of the2013 Summer AntiFolk Fest (celebrating 20 years of the Sidewalk/AntiFolk Co-Prosperity Region), I wanted to bring up some of the other Scenish open mics that have come and gone.

Raven Open Stage – Joie Dead Blonde Girlfriend (who would like some of your money), a major scene player for a major number of years, hosted his own open mic at the Raven on 12th Street from 1999 through 2002. It was near enough to the Sidewalk that people would run back and forth from one club to the other. It ended by midnight, I think. Eventually, the building burned down.

C-Note – In 2003 or so, Lorraine Leckie and Kathy Zimmer started hosting a late afternoon event on Fridays on 10th and C. Eventually, I hosted it, making it the best 5-7 Friday open mic Avenue C had ever seen. The club shut down a few years later, with me still in it. If memory serves, I first found the talents of John Hodel, Dan Costello and Debe Dalton a that club. On different occasions, I saw Slow Roosevelt and introduced the future members of Schwervon! there.

DTUT – The Upper East Side because a Sidewalk satellite in 2003, when Amy Hills opted to host a Wednesday night event, right on the heels of the end of the Raven Open Stage. The coffee house sold wine, but more importantly, had an unlimited supply of gigantic rice krispy treats. That place rocked! Amy gave up the open mic maybe three years after it started. In that time, she’d become and ceased to be the host and booker at the Sidewalk.

Bar Matchless – Tuesdays in the middle of the aughts, Danny Kelly and then Dibs hosted an open mic in Greenpoint at the matchless Bar Matchless. A couple of German drunks did not like my saying that Jesus might have suffered from hymiephilia.

The Creek and The Cave – Following the collapse of the Wednesdays at DTUT, Paul Alexander decided to make people go further afield, and started an event at the Creek and the Cave in Long Island City. Regulars included Brian Speaker, Leo, and Debe Dalton. It was a fun space with an amazing salsa, right off the 7 train. Even though it was in an outer borough, it was surprisingly easy to get to. The club’s still there, but focused, to my knowledge, more on theater and comedy than music.

Banjo Jim’s – Saturday afternoons, Wayne Kral hosted (with Rick Snyder and then Jeremiah Birnbaum) a lazy Saturday afternoon on 9th Street and Avenue C. Starting at two and running until seven, it was a fun place to people-watch. Lorraine Leckie made me go, but I got to meet talented beauties Kelley Swindall and Meghann Plunkett there, along with East Village legends LJ Murphy and Walter Ego, so I forgive her.

Brooklyn Tuesday Tea Cup – When Dan Costello and Rachel Devlin built the Brooklyn Tea Party with their own two (four?) hands, they began to host weekly open mics in their loft space. It was the Tuesday Tea Cup. Not once in my life did I go to that event, but I heard amazing things about the intimacy and warmth of the environment.

Otto’s Shrunken Head – When Banjo Jim’s shut down, Wayne Kral relocated his Saturday moveable feast to Otto’s Shrunken Head on 14th and Avenue B. The Tiki-themed place was much fun, but a darkened back room on a Saturday afternoon wasn’t as thrilling as the street view that Banjo Jim’s had provided. The club’s still there; the open mic is gone.

There are, of course, other open mics still going strong throughout the City (including the mythical Nomad), and lots of other scene-sights that I no doubt have forgotten about – you should talk about them in the Comments section. In my op, none compare to the Sidewalk, but you could look them up and experience for yourself. Not this week, though. There’s a Festival to enjoy!