It was really cool to see some of the old-time Balladeers come out to watch Erich Sylvester Sunday night – and have them stick around for the Shiny and Spoon set. (I think I should say I could have been among the old timers – I am almost old enough to have been among the original Balladeers – but my QCB days only date back to about 1990. Since it all started in the 1960s, that almost makes me a newbie. ) I was hoping Shiny and the Spoon would draw a younger audience, but such was not evident. All in all, though, it was full house, a good audience, and another fantastic night at the Leo Coffeehouse.
The night started out with open mic.
Robin Roland, the first open mic performer, put some new words to traditional tunes to make some political statements. Robin said his first, called “Where Have All the Teachers Gone” (sung to the melody of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”) was to protest budget cuts of Governor Kasich. His second was and updated version of Penny’s Farm, dedicated to Occupiers everywhere.
A newcomer (and at the same time an old-timer) to the Balladeer scene, Kabir Bakie, was the second open mic performer. Kabir said he remembered the days of the Leo at the Y on Calhoun Street. I think he has only recently returned for the Norwood version of the Balladeers at Zion United Church or Christ. He performed nice versions of a “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and John Prine’s “Please Don’t Bury Me,” so I for one hope he comes back for more.
Spencer Funk and I did the third open mic set, covering Michael Smith’s “Spoon River.” Smith is a one of the great American songwriters and performers. He’s also an actor, and has written music for the theater. The song is based on a book of poetry, the Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters. Spencer also added a whole lot of nice guitar work to an original of mine called “If I Lived in Texas.”
Erich, joined by bass player and classmate David Dube, were the second set performers. Erich, who now lives on the west coast, and David — from somewhere in Kentucky but I don’t remember exactly where – were back in town for a 45th class reunion.
Erich did several songs from his CD, Hapa Haole Hit Parade. Haole, Erich explained, means someone from somewhere other than Hawaii, and hapa means half. So the songs, while having a Hawaiian feel, were mostly in English with only a few Hawaiian phrases and thus half haole. He also did several island flavored-songs written by Tin Pan Alley songwriters from the early 1900’s. The one that stuck in my mind was one that mixed Irish Heritage with Hawaiian music titled O’Brien is Trying to Talk Hawaiian.
Shiny and The Spoon (Amber Nash and Jordan Neff) also came with a bass player, named Pete Somethingortother. (Well, clearly that’s not really his last name, but I failed to collect it.) They performed all originals, some from a previously released EP, some from a CD, Ferris Wheel, that came out in August, and some from a CD that is currently in progress. The final song was nicely dark tune called “13 Crates,” featuring Amber on her home-made lagerphone.
Oh, yeah, Shiny and Spoon are also nominated for two Cincinnati Entertainment Awards: Folk/Americana Performers of the Year and Album of the Year for their CD Ferris Wheel. (We urge you to vote, but recognize it’s going to be a tough choice. There are several QCB favorites on the list.)
See, I told you: another fantastic night at the Leo Coffeehouse