Open Mic, January 21, 2017
Open Mic Continues to Grow
“Our second performing arts show and open mic of 2017 was well attended,” said Arts Center president and show host Ron Hackett. “We are even expanding our coverage by pulling in a few artists from Huntsville. The audience is also growing as more people are coming just to see the show. Donations have also been up, which helps us keep the building open to these free public shows.”
Co-host Robert Foster kicked off the evening with a cover of Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “Puff the Magic Dragon.” There is a persistent rumor that the song is about smoking marijuana, but Peter Yarrow and his college roommate Leonard Lipton have always maintained that it is just a song about a boy coming of age. Next he sang a tune about an 18th century race horse named “Stewball.” The earliest known version of this song dates to at least 1784. Foster finished with
“Times They are a Changin’,” by Bob Dylan.
Local songwriter Greg Mitchell came next and sang his song “Charlie’s View” with Hackett playing guitar. While visiting Bay St Louis, Mitchell notice a bench overlooking the ocean that was inscribed “Charlie’s View.” With nothing more to go on, Mitchell developed his own back story for the song. Mitchell is expanding on that back story for a book he is writing, and he read from the first few chapters for the rest of his 15-minute session.
Budding guitarist Travis Leimer followed Mitchell and was accompanied by Hackett, his guitar instructor. They started with an instrumental version of “Garden Party,” by Ricky Nelson. Next they played “All of Me,” a jazz standard by Seymore Simons and Gerald Marks. “I counted us in a little hot on that one, but Travis stayed right with me,” said Hackett upon finishing. They completed their set with a reprise of “Puff the Magic Dragon” played as a jazz instrumental.
Americana Songwriter Taylor Hoch and blues guitarist Jay Jernigan performed next under their stage name, “Tay & Jay.” They performed three of Hoch’s original songs. The first was “What Should I Do Now?” They followed that with “Right Through Me,” a love song she is writing for a play about Jack the Ripper. They finished with “Graffiti,” a song composed of words Hoch found written on a bathroom wall at a truck stop. “This is a really hard song to sing,” said Hoch. “There isn’t a coherent theme. It’s just random words.”
Songwriter and balladeer Thunderbyrd Newman followed Tay and Jay with three of his original avant-garde compositions entitled, “The Action,” “Letting Go,” and “The Night Belongs to You.”
Alex Hendrix, and singer and songwriter from Huntsville came to join us for the evening. She began her set with “The House of the Rising Sun,” a traditional folk ballad. Musicologists say that this song is thematically similar to a 16th century ballad called, “The Unfortunate Rake.” Next she performed and original song entitled, “The Viet Nam Song,” which she wrote after watching a documentary on Viet Nam. She finished with an original song entitled, “Wedding Dress.” Matt Morrow, another singer and songwriter from Huntsville and a friend of Hendrix, joined her onstage to sing harmony on “Wedding Dress.”
Morrow then closed out the show with three of his original songs that included, “Are You Happy Now,” “I Still Feel the Same,” and “Memory Play.” “It was an honor to have my friends from Huntsville here tonight as part of our show,” said Hackett.
Photos courtesy of Ron Hackett
Proud guitar instructor Ron Hackett with his protoge Travis Leimer
Tay and Jay
Alex Hendrix and Matt Morro