On this date the Leo ranged from low-key and somber to ecstatic (okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole) and high energy – with stops in between at funny and melancholy and more.
This week’s open mic set included four performers.
The evening started off in somber mode when Brad Monti, the first open mic performer, sang a sweet and clearly heartfelt version of John McCutcheon’s “Christmas in the Trenches” that drew a well-deserved extended round of applause.
The second set performer, Jerome Scott, hit one of those stops in between somber and ecstatic high energy. I am not exactly sure which stop, I just know it was an enjoyable one. In his first time at the Leo, Jerome did two instrumentals: one original and one a cover of an Al Petteway song.
Open mic also included a song by Balladeer Marty O’Connor, who used to perform regularly at the Leo when it was at the University YMCA in Clifton during the 1990’s. Emcee Prudence Hunt even remember the name of Marty’s band: Big Table and that they covered the Beatle’s tune “Dear Prudence.” This time, Marty covered Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.”
A bluegrass group, Blue Fugate, that formed about six months ago finished off the open mic set with country-bluegrass covers of the Beatle’s “Ive Just Seen a Face” and John Prine’s “Spanish Pipedream.” Blue Fugate’s stops were towards the high-energy end of the evening’s spectrum.
Lauren Houston and Heather Turner – who performs with a local group called Tupelo Honey — took over the stage for the second set. I think they did all originals, but there might have been one cover in there.
The tune I remember most, several days later, is a song about wanting to live in Barcelona, Spain. Heather, I think it was, said they had they dream that they would sell everything and move their after vacationing in that city. It hasn’t happened yet — but it still could, I suppose.
If I heard this right, Lauren and Heather are going to be performing as an official duo under the name Honey & Houston. Their stops at the Leo on this night were mostly towards the melancholy, somber end of the spectrum. They did assure the audience that, in fact, they are quite happy.
Jake Speed and the Freddies finished out the evening, for the most part, on the energetic –and funny – end of the night’s musical spectrum. For example, their Christmas In Cincinnati song, with lyrics about putting goetta in egg nog, enjoying a three-way with friends, and asking Santa to put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame.
They also did a song in which Kentucky Graham, who usually plays lead guitar, was obliged to hold-up hand-written cards with lyrics on them, a la Bob Dylan’s video of Subterranean Homesick Blues. Graham actually made it into an audience participation event, with the audience following along his hand gestures as he waved a card with the lyric “Freeze” over his head.
There was at least one somber moment I recall, when Jake and the Freddies performed “World Come Clean” off of their new CD with the same name.