I saw both Tracy Grammer
on Friday and Ellis Paul
on Saturday as they delivered keynote speeches along with taking questions, plus perform 2 songs. Ellis had read from a book, presumably a ledger, reciting important facts about his career in numbers. Tracy recognized my name instantly and we chatted a bit about her 2012 album “Little Blue Egg”, and also about my discovering Dave Carter’s music through Chris Smither
. Ellis was kind to give me his 2010 CD.
On Saturday and for part of Friday I took in Kat Falcey & Tunes2ya.com
‘s 2 music showcases at Aleathea’s Restaurant, the majority of the performers being her clients. Michael Notarangelo
& Sam Haines opened the Friday showcase.
@ The Boiler Room inside Congress Hall:
This was easily my favorite among the venues I visited during the conference and collection of showcases. This venue is somewhat darkly lit, with light beams of different colors creatively texturizing the stage. On Friday night I saw three bands, one of which I had known of, and two others who were new and yet very accessible and friendly to boot. Carmen Yates leads a NYC band called Racing Rain
on acoustic, Christina Kim on keyboard, Ali Cook on stand-up bass, and Thor Jonsson playing loops for the most part instead of drums. The band’s style is somewhat low-key and imaginative, open to loose interpretation, leaving the words at the forefront. Carmen had been on crutches for a while, so he was on acoustic instead of electric guitar. Carmen and I found each other a few times over the weekend. He’s written over a thousand songs, has had his music used in the Oliver Stone-directed “Savages
” and has led Racing Rain for about a year. Upon receiving a CD of theirs, I recognized a prior drummer for them named Timur Yusef, who is now in Changing Modes
, from NYC, led a five-piece band of acoustic, two electric
guitars, Yamaha keyboard and drummer. Madison with roots in Southern California, performs with a style that is all driven by her magnetism and personal stage presence, including what sounds like a three-octave voice. Dressing modestly in black, her energy kept your eyes riveted on her, while their keyboardist flailed away.”Radio Waves” and “Float”, with a carefully-styled pop sound, were the songs I recalled most.
, checking in from San Francisco, was up next. You’ve read my review of his live performance in this post
. Jeff had the full band in tow, including fellow San Franciscan songwriter Megan Slankard
on guitar and backing vox for a few songs. Jeff’s songs are ripe to break further into radio, TV, other media, and the music truly moved the audience. There were a number of ladies who danced during the set in the area directly in front of the stage. Megan occasionally broke from performing to watch.
@ Congress Hall:
During the 2 days while occasionally dropping in to network, I reconnected with these songwriters: Jill Cagney
, Allison Tartalia
, Avi Wisnia
(who seemed to be everywhere during the Conferencce), Jared Costa
, Marci Geller
, and Kev and Peg
of Lotus Hill
, who are now on a duo project. I also got to meet Annika Vitolo
for the first time. Her 2010 composition “Streets Of Brooklyn
” which got a fair amount of attention in our shared home borough back in 2010. Turns out we attended the same high school just years apart!
I briefly watched performances on The Brown Room’s piano of both Avi and the mysterious Noelle Picara
, the latter easily the best-dressed of those I saw this weekend. I’ve always appreciated a good mystery.
Upon meeting Kaydi Johnson
at The Brown Room on Saturday, my memory flashed back some 10 years to my days in NYC when I had first become a fan. She gave me 2 of her CDs. Later I saw her participate in an impromptu songwriter jam at The Pilot House
, performing “American Grocery Store”. The Pilot House is a fine family-oriented bar/restaurant, with a tiny stage, just right for acoustic acts. I chatted briefly with a few locals there while I was there.
Kevin McWha Steele
was in a nearby room to me at The Inn At Cape May
. Kevin’s a big fan of Radio Crystal Blue,and it was great to hang with him during the weekend. Talking with him, we seem to have the same sort of emotional and mental makeup. On Friday he privately performed a couple of songs on cigar-box guitar, then we walked over to Congress Hall to take in more of the scene. He says the buildings reminds him of The Colonnade in Bath, UK. On Saturday, he had performed at Marq’s Pub
at Marquis de Lafayette. Later we reconnected over beers at The Pilot House. He introduced me to songwriter-producer Spencer Chakedis
, whose history including producing acts for his Balloon Heaven studio (I recall The Moldy Peaches being one). Spencer composed the score for the indie film King Corn
. He has of those names I’ve seen in the liner notes of several CDs but never met in person. The three of us agreed to do a interview and performance in my room late Sunday morning. Audio is still being worked on as of this typing.
Kevin and I ended up following Kaydi as she drove us to an after-party. This was the great untold story of the entire weekend. Here we were, about a dozen of us, in 3 cars with a dozen folks, all figuring via GPS how to get to a rather vague address about a mile from where most of the venues where. We all did eventually find the spot, a building marked Exit Zero
, a local book publishing house and source of outstanding local art. Along with a lengthy jam, there were some alcohol and brownies served (no, NOT that kind). Somehow we got back to our respective dwellings.
I took in more of the Cape May scene at dark, passing through Washington Mall, admiring the church Our Lady Star Of The Sea, and a few more music venues. I wondered how busy these places might have been if it were beach season.
PS: Doing my rounds traveling between venues I spotted a meteor that was heading east. It appeared like a blue/green ball of light, and it flamed out after about 20 seconds. It was the first time I had witnessed such an event. Watching CNN in my room the next morning, the reports from Virginia to Maine
all saw the same light I did. Talking with a friend after I returned, she suggests that a passing comet lit up the sky so that such meteors or fireballs are more visible to us. OK then.
View from my room: