Thursday, January 21, 2016

Another Riverview Cafe story

Tonight was an especially good show at the Riverview Cafe Open Mike night. There was an unusually diverse mix of styles and a couple of standout performances. No one was bad, but then they never are. 

Some people wrote their own songs and some people sang other people's songs. Some people did one of each, and a few people managed to sing fast enough to squeeze in a third song. Covered artists included Johnny Cash (the same song for the second week in a row, but by different people), Patty Griffin (Twice! Two different songs. Two different people), Stephen Foster by way of Neil Young, R.E.M., The Who, Roy Clark, A song Hank Williams made famous but didn't write, and Ray Charles. A performer we'd seen before did a song I liked about The Peshtigo Fire, a huge fire I'd never heard of that was in Door County on the same day as The Chicago Fire. It had this really nice line in the refrain (I'm afraid I don't have it exact in my memory), something like:

Some people jumped in the Peshtigo River,
But that was on fire too.

Well, you know, the lines are always better sung.

There was also an unusual run on comic songs tonight. A really terrific ukulele player, who played it like a blues guitar, did some damage to his blues songs by being too funny, and a woman did a couple of specifically comic songs of an NC-17 rating that sent a couple people of delicate sensibilities into the back hall. These funny songs were kind of close together and when a crusty old duo we'd seen before came on and started a song that clearly looked to be funny I immediately thought to myself "Uh-oh, I guess I don't much like funny songs." 

It ended up being one of the most charming songs of the night. Again here's my best, not as good as the original, rendition of a few of its key lines:

I think my cat has feline dementia,
I think my cat has feline dementia,
He wants to go outside,
Then he wants to come inside,
Then he wants to go outside again.
I think my cat has feline dementia.

Again, much better when sung, with a good, low key, blind harmonica player accompanist, so you may have to take my word for it that it was delightful. 

But perhaps that last little story is the best way to sum up The Riverview Cafe Open Mike Night, really on pretty much any given night. You start out with a little feeling of "Uh-oh" and then you end up charmed, if not downright amazed.


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