So, you had finals to study for, papers to write, something important to do. Well, while you were not at the weekly open mic at Avogadro’s Number…
|Writes Itself (Brian Guy and Dan Mennitt)|
Writes Itself opened the night as the featured act, with some luscious jazz/blues inspired progressive rock. Writes Itself is made up of Brian Guy (vocals and guitar) and Dan Mennitt (bass). They have several songs posted on their facebook page, and they also offer their music to download for free on their website. If you like 1970’s progressive rock, you might really like these guys. Actually they reminded me tonight (in a good way) of the aesthetic spoofed in the classic Mel Brooks film The Producers, in the audition song that the soon-to-be stage Hitler performs about ‘love power’. Anyway, these guys were good.
Following Writes Itself were Avo’s open mic favorites Jesse Niethammer and Brooke Reisse. Jesse did not bring his looping pedals along this week, so his set was made up of some of his favorite covers. This is the fellow who is carrying around his brand new demo album on flash drives, btw. Besides his own original music, he likes to cover a lot of the artists who are big with the younger ladies, including Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz and David Gray. While this means his personal music collection resembles that of a typical teenage girl, it also means he must be a huge hit at parties.
|Brooke Reisse and her friend Andy|
Brooke Reisse brought along her friend Andy, from Maine, and he joined her for two songs during her set before hopping back on stage a short while later for a set of his own. The result of this first attempt at duetting was a bit shaky, but no doubt if Andy could stick around long enough to get comfortable with our open mic room, these two would have some great sounds together. Andy has a particularly nice bass/baritone voice, which made up for the occasionally muddled guitar bits.
Other returning performers this week were Anthony Seago, playing a great blues set, and Ryan King, playing an impressive instrumental guitar set, this time with a few lyrics thrown in as well. And, Kevin Bennett again left his eye-patch off for a musical set playing piano covers of classic rock songs, this time playing a lot more confidently now that he’s had a chance to shake off the cobwebs a bit on this part of his skills repertoire. Following Kevin’s piano-playing set, a chunk of short stand-up comedy sets actually drew in a few new audience members this time, for the three comedians present tonight- Mutt Rogers, Kevin Bennett and Dustin Kirby. After these three gentlemen finished entertaining, confusing and horrifying their audience, the open mic shifted back to music.
The last few sets of the night were of course some of the ones that ought to have happened earlier when we had more people in the audience. By 10pm many of the performers from earlier in the night have usually left, and their friends of course leave with them, a mildly rude and unfortunate, but quite common occurrence at open mics anywhere. A newcomer to the Avo’s open mic, Jordan Coleson gave us a set of original alternative rock songs which would have blended in very nicely with the stuff on the radio in the 90’s. Another new face at these open mics, Michael Arslanian in the second to last slot of the night was probably the highlight of the whole evening, with the sort of lush nuanced guitar-playing and dramatic dynamics that many singer-songwriters haven’t worked up to yet.
And last but not least, Dayne Reed returned to the open mic stage with more of his gorgeous instrumental guitar-playing. This guy’s guitar skills maybe not quite as extensive as those of Goran Ivanovic or Andreas Kapsalis, but Dayne is steadily getting closer to that level of guitar mastery.
On my scale, tonight’s open mic was pretty decent, despite the somewhat smaller finals-season audience turn-out. Every slot in the night’s schedule was filled, and all the musicians who performed gave solid or above average performances. There was not as diverse an array of artists this time- lots of man-with-guitar solo acts, and only one woman performing on stage tonight- but the range of music styles was pretty good.
And, while many of the performers only stuck around for a few minutes, if at all, after they finished performing, there were still a few musicians in the room to watch Dayne finish out the night’s show. Those folks who left early missed out on some great stuff, both from Dayne and from Michael, but hopefully these two talented musicians will return and catch an earlier timeslot in future open mics.