Hanging at the Free Times Café is always an enjoyable experience. The atmosphere is laid back, the beer is cold and the food is amazing. I highly recommend the latkes. And it was an even greater pleasure hanging out there last night to see the Best of Open Stage, with Free Times owner Judy Perly hosting an evening featuring three performers, each delighting the audience in his/her own way. Victoria Carr was unable to perform due to a medical issue – and we were told she’s doing well – and was substituted by blues singer Joshua Lopez.
Joshua Lopez served up some classic blues, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, voice and strings wailin’ with the hurt – from NOLA blues song “St. James Infirmary Blues” to a couple of his own, less hurtin’ and more devotional songs. You can find Josh here: http://www.facebook.com/jlattelopez and give him a listen on SoundCloud here: http://soundcloud.com/jlattelopez
Amar Ghelani, another blues musician, wailed on Dobro – a guitar with a steel front that kinda looks like a breast-plate and gives it a particular resonance – treating us to improv’d sounds, haunting and echoing and sad. He was joined by vocalist Asha Piper, who improv’d lyrics and scat with his guitar sounds, beautiful and touching. Anything can happen with music that’s never been heard before – not even by the musician and singer. Ghelani wrapped up with a couple of tunes accompanied by friend Aaron on harp, taking the audience on a blues train ride of sorts, before finishing with a solo of looped Dobro sounds, creating an eerie blues lullaby. Check out Amar on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/amarghelani1 and YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/AmarGuitarSitar
Lizzie Violet wowed the audience with a selection of her spoken word and poetry, opening with the hilarious “Chlamydia Is Not a Flower” then shifting the mood to the moving and powerful “Woman of Strength” and to ironic in “Unsubstantiated Relationship Status,” the latter eliciting responses of recognition from the audience. Moving into horror poetry, she read three of her zombie series poems: being attacked by, turning into one, and hiding from the onslaught of the apocalypse – a horrifying and gut-wrenching experience of a mother who survived while her child did not. New pieces about coming through a break-up and a young vampire slayer were poignant and real, and she finished her set with darkly funny childhood recollections of imaginary friend Sid and her mother thinking she was a serial killer in the making. You can find Lizzie on her WordPress page: http://lizzieviolet.wordpress.com/
A great, moving evening of impressive talent. Check out Free Times Café sometime: http://www.freetimescafe.com/