Monday, July 2, 2012

7-02-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #138 (Starting Out Again. . .with New Beat-ginnings in The Washington Squares - Open Mic at the Speakeasy)

The Speakeasy scene was not hard to penetrate if you had something good.  Monday night open mics were the main hoot.  Rod MacDonald hosted around our time in the scene (spring of 1983).  We showed up in our striped shirts, Ray Bans, berets  and annoyingly confident attitudes the first time out.  I had a little old acoustic F-30 Guild guitar that sounded great, and Bruce had a Gibson Hummingbird (or was it Tom’s guitar that he lent to Bruce?).   Anyway, Tom played his electric P-bass because this was before Tom got his big acoustic bass, a Guild “guitarrone” style guitar.  It looked good on him because he’s a tall guy and proportionally, it worked. 

The Speakeasy’s owner, Joseph, was a nice older man who Goodkind always schmoozed, making ol’ Joseph smile so that he practically gave Goodkind carte blanche, let Tom do whatever he wanted.   See, Tom was always ingratiating his way into favors, and we never stood in his way.  Tom wanted bookings for us, with lines around the corner.  We didn’t object to that, either!

So, at the Speakeasy on a typical night you might hear Roger Manning doing his Folkgrass duo, or Enamel the Camel singing truly bizarre songs (his theme song went, “Enamel the Camel.  . . “ etc. etc. of course).  Folk humorist Christine Lavin would sing a new satirical song that would get everybody snickering, and Rod MacDonald would sing his own songs, sometimes with Tom Intondi.

Eric Frandsen was a funny guy and a great guitar player, with a handlebar mustache that made him look kinda Gilded Age.  He wasn’t very nice at times so I steered clear; didn’t want to be in his way and get hurt.

Lucy Kaplansky and Peggy Atwood also played. . . they were lovely, fragile, and endearing. 

But the cherry on the sundae, so to speak, was young woman with a guitar who wrote songs and seemed very serious.  She was a waiflike, smart girl who wrote her own songs and never seemed to get overly excited.  Tom and Bruce in the Squares always went out of their ways to be nice and try to make her laugh and “court” her, in a way.  I wasn’t sure of their sincerity, but I was sure she had talent.  I didn’t know if she liked us, though, so that kind of got in my way of enjoying Suzanne Vega. . .   

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