C-Note Bar, July 5, 2004, NYC - featuring performances by ROBERT URBAN, The ROBERT URBAN Band, Johnny, Jon Raymond Pollard, Drew Edwards, Ahmond, Drew Paralic, M. Shane, Rubberlegs, Gordon Smith, Corinne Curcio, Virgo, Ken Thompson, Frank Grimaldi, Richard Cortez, Troy Lambert
THE REAL FIREWORKS:
ROBERT URBAN HOSTS THE NYC OUTMUSIC JULY OPEN MIC!
(photos and review by JED RYAN of P.M. Magazine)
"The first Monday of the month of July fell on July 5th, 2005. And as Coordinator of the NYC Open Mic, I was worried that the results of too much sun-- and too many hot dogs and beer-- would result in a turnout that was more, shall we say, "intimate" than explosive. But to the contrary, the C-Note was definitely one of the busiest places in downtown New York City for the July 2004 "Out Loud" Open Mic. Talk about fireworks!
The very special host of the night was Outmusician Robert Urban. A true Renaissance man, Urban perfectly embodies the true spirit of Outmusic: an out and proud artist who writes music for and about the community, and often collaborates with other GLBT artists-- whether it be playing guitar, performing background vocals, or writing reviews of other artists' CDs on his website. Whether you call him a coach, a mentor, or a muse, there's no doubt that he continues to inspire other artists in addition to creating his own body of work.The ROBERT URBAN Band at the C-Note Bar
When I first put Urban's "Rock Widow" on for a spin, I expected a CD of Robert Urban-ized versions of songs made famous by such rock widows as Courtney Love and Yoko Ono. Personally, I'd love to hear what Robert could do with Yoko's "Open Your Box"... or Courtney Love's "Teenage Whore". But with "Rock Widow", the listener gets a supreme collection of grand, anthem-quality, arena-style rock classics-to-be... complete with priceless lyrics and a spirit of the sheer joys of making music infused throughout. The CD also features the song "Don't Ask Don't Tell", which was nominated for Outmusic's OutSong of the Year 2004.
Nominated for Outmusic's Outmusician of the Year 2004, I asked Robert what was new lately. Aparently, a lot. He's been nominated for two Awards from the Stonewall Society: one for his music reviews, and one for his poetry. He's also arranged the music for the upcoming gay horror flick "Zombies". Most recently, he's credited with arranging and playing guitar on Yolanda's "Lay All Your Love On Me" on Fig Jam's new compilation "Abbalicious".
Robert opened the night with his unique take on "Money Changes Everything", one of the underappreciated tracks on Cyndi Lauper's 1984 album "She's So Unusual". It was the first of two 80's classics revived that night.
Robert Urban and singer/songwriter Ahmond
Robert introduces singer/guitarist CORINNE CURCIO
First up was a young guy with a guitar who only goes by his first name, Johnny. He gave us a nostalgic track about the artists of late '70's/early '80's New York who inspired him. Throughout the song there were homages to the Mercury Lounge, Studio 54, Alphabet City, the Peppermint Lounge... and a cryptic reference to a certain future star who now goes by the name Esther: "The first time that I saw her, with rubber bracelets on, and her hair tied up... I knew it wouldn't be long...". It was a great throwback to a now-classic New York cutural scene. But then again, a good-looking guy with a guitar is ALWAYS a great thing...
John Raymond Pollard, who credits Robert Urban with giving him his first (exactly "two years, one month, and six hours" ago!) full-fledged public concert performance, was next. Known for such political songs as 2002's "The Government's Got You" and the Open Mic favorite "King George", John's been hard at work in the studio lately on his new CD "Body Politic", which will include "King George" just in time for the election season (The song would have been a perfect closing track for "Farenheit 9-11"!)... as well as and a number of new songs that have never performed publicly like "Boycott" and "Eye for Eye." I can't wait! That night John gave us a song called "Madam Mamieux", a continuation of the story of the "gypsy down on Bleeker Street" made famous by Joni Mitchell's 1990 "A Song for Sharon".
After John was the first of two Drews: Drew Edwards. Drew joked that while most people listen to 1980's "Double Fantasy", they'd skip the Yoko Ono part. Drew, whose band is called Cellar Door, boasted that he skipped the John Lennon part! Hmmm... Taking the piano, he displayed his dreamy, youthful voice with a song called "Boy Wonder" ("Bring my boy wonder back...").
Following Drew was self-styled singer/songwriter (and actor!) Ahmond, who offered a blend of striking looks and distinctive vocals (soulful and yearning, yet high on drama and with a wide range) with his song "Naive". You can see learn more about Ahmond at http://Ahmond.netfirms.com.
Supremely talented pianist Drew Paralic, the second of the two Drews, gave the audience "At It's Roots", from his 2001 CD "Too Little Too Late", giving us a much-needed cool down session for the second half of the night.
Making his Open Mic premiere was singer/songwriter M. Shane. Robert Urban introduced M.Shane as " a very talented singer that I'm honored to work with", and went on to provide background vocals for M.Shane's soulful, mellow voice. Boy, can he hit those high notes-- as displayed with his version of Radiohead's "High and Dry" ("Don't leave me high, don't leave me dry").
Corinne Curcio was next with a delightful new song, an autobiographical ("Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty!") ode to the joys of a simple childhood crush... and that irreplaceable feeling that continues well into adulthood! The song was "I Love Girls", with lyrics like: "When I was five, I loved a girl, Genie was her name; She was my very best friend, I know she felt the same; I’d always plant one on her cheek, at the end of the day; That was, until my mother cried 'You shouldn’t behave that way.'” Like her friend Robert Urban, Corinne has been nominated for a Stonewall Society Award: the Female/Lesbian Favorite, Pride 2004 Musician Award.Anthony & Gordon play a Rubberlegs tune
Speaking about Stonewall Society Awards, here's some breaking news: Rubberlegs is back!... as a duo, specifically. Gordon Smith, AKA Peg Rubberleg and one half of Rubberlegs, was solo (but still very busy!) for a while, since "Bunny Lake" was declared missing yet again. (Check out www.Rubberlegs.com for the whole tittilating story, complete with equal parts history, tragedy, comedy, and drama!). Rubberlegs' CD "Leg Warmers Reheated" was nominated for the Stonewall Society Pride 2004 Favorite Group Award. That night, the C-Note was treated to one of the catchiest tracks from that CD, "People Who Talk in Elevators", which gets better every time you hear it. I agree, people who talk in movie theaters SHOULD be boiled in popcorn oil! (especially when I'm trying to illegally record the movie-- just kidding!) And this time, there was an all-new energy infused by the new second half of Rubberlegs, drummer Anthony Maulella. Anthony and Peg Rubberleg have been friends since 1980.
It was then on to another high point of the night: V*I*R*G*O, with full band: V*I*R*G*O on vocals, Toshio Mana on bass, Gordon Smith on keyboard, and Anthony Maulella on drums. The handsome quartet gave us an all-out, no-holes-barred, high-energy rendition of the Eurthymics' 1983 "Sweet Dreams"-- the second '80's classic to be resurrected that night. "Sweet Dreams" has been redone before, most notably Marilyn Manson's creepy take in1995 -- but with ultra-sexy, smooth vocals by V*I*R*G*O and a new energy by his bandmates, the song took on a new life. V*I*R*G*O has been nominated for the Stonewall Society's Male/Gay Favorite Pride 2004 Musician Award for his CD "Moderate Extremism", and you can catch him and full band next on Wednesday, August 11th, 2004 at the Galapagos Arts Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Check out www.Intraxis.com for more.
Toshio, Gordon, and Anthony are also members of the Robert Urban Band.
Native New Yorker and veteran Open Mic performer Ken Thompson was next, charming the crowd with a guitar and vocals throwback to the romantic funk and soul of the 70's, with a new, smooth, polished sound for today. You'll be seeing more of Ken Thompson in the future: he'll be celebrating his new CD "The Conjurer" with a release party...and you're all invited! So stay tuned...
After Ken, Robert Urban introduced "extremely special guest" Frank Grimaldi. Frank has been praised by writers and other Outmusicians for, among other things, his lyrics and dedication to Outmusic. But that night, the main attraction was his voice: romantic, soulful, polished, and high on emotion. You can check out more about Frank at www.EmphaticRecords.com, where he promises much more in 2004.
Up next was an young guy with a true gift for writing lyrics: Outmusic Open Mic fave Richard Cortez. The song was "The Time It Takes to Love", which he described as "for all the people who fucked us over" . Previously, Cortez has done some comical stuff like "Boyfriend to Be"... but this time he showed us the flipside of desire, with a song more confrontational and accusatory in tone (and prompting Robert Urban to note," It looks like the gay community has a new Bob Dylan!"): "...and just because your boyfriend is out of town, doesn't mean you get to remember my number now; I'm not some one night red light special that you can try, and I'm not gonna say this until you look me in the eye, so don't get up your hopes this time because I'm not gonna cry over you." The song ended with more "Fuck you"s than an episode of "The Sopranos"!
For an interesting contrast, Outmusician Troy lambert followed with a love song called "You Make Me", which was inspired by a Valentine's Card he wrote for his boyfriend, fellow Outmusician Kris Landherr: "Your soul touches mine Your presence completes me Your hand calms me down When the world drives me wild..."
Robert Urban and band closed the jam-packed evening with "We are the Haunted", a dynamic anthem against AIDS discrimination, from his 1997 CD "Godless". Look for Robert Urban's fifth CD, due in 2005. Robert's sense of community spirit reminds us all: Why just make great sounds, when we can make great sounds together? Check out www.RobertUrban.com for more. And don't miss the next NYC Outmusic "Out Loud" Open Mic, which will be Monday, August 2nd. Our host will be longtime Outmusician and OMA Winner (2002 OMA for Debut Female) Amy Fix. If that's not incentive enough, Robert Urban will be auctioning off a rare "Zombies" DVD. See ya there!"- Jed Ryan www.jedryan.com