Open Mic, November 4, 2017
Poems and Songs Night
Host Robert Foster opened the show with a trio of folk favorites that included "Annie's Song" by John Denver, "Wild World" by Cat Stephens, and "John Sutter" by Dan Fogelberg. "Foster's smooth voice and fingerstyle guitar are a great way to start the show," said Arts Center president Ron Hackett.
Regular performer Pete Crim came next to perform three Christian inspired country tunes. He began with "I Saw Heaven in a Vision Last Night" by Wendy Bagwell and recorded by The Sunliters. He followed that with "Window Up Above," which was written and recorded by George Jones. He finished with "Farewell Party" that was written by Lawton Williams and recorded by Little Jimmy Dickens in 1961.
Apprentice host Travis Leimer took the stage for a more contemporary set. "We get a wonderful variety of music and performers," said Hackett. Leimer began with "Take It Easy," which was written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, and recorded by the Eagles. Leimer is a big Guns and Roses fan, so he chose "Knock on Heaven's Door," a song written and sung by Bob Dylan and covered by many bands, including Guns and Roses. He finished with "Free Fallin'," which is the opening track from Tom Petty's solo debut album, Full Moon Fever in 1989. The song was written by Petty and Jeff Lynne.
Dr. Bill Stephens returned again this week with more poetry. "We've always billed this show as a performing arts show that is not limited to musical acts," said Foster. His first poem was an original called "Tuxedo, Truck and Stars." Next, he reprised "Casey At Bat" by Ernest Thayer from last week's show. He finished with "Abdulla Bulbul Ameer," an 1887 song by Percy French about a Turkish-Russian duel in which both participants perish after some serious boasting.
Elliott from Petersberg was back this week with more of his fun sing-a-longs. He began with the "The Ho Ho Song" that Red Buttons used as a theme song for his 1950s TV show. Next was an old campfire about camaraderie that goes, "We'll travel along, singing a song, Side By Side." He finished with "One Meat Ball" (originally "One Fish Ball") by George Martin Lane. It's a song about a diner short on funds and an intimidating waiter.
Old friend Len Bullard returned after a lengthy recovery from a heart attack that prevented him from performing during the Host of Christmas Past last year. Playing a nylon string Godin guitar and using prerecorded backing tracks, Bullard performed three original tunes entitled "Mandy Blue," "Baby Let's Do," and "Selena."
Hackett closed out the first round of performances with a few instrumental guitar favorites. The first tune called "Jamman" was written and performed by Chet Atkins. Once a fairly obscure tune, it is now well known as the theme song for e-surance commercials. Next, Hackett performed his samba/swing inspired rendition of and old Harold Arlen tune from "The Wizard of Oz" that Hackett calls "Swinging Over the Rainbow." Hackett's guitar student, Leimer, then joined Hackett on stage to perform "Walk Don't Run." Jazz guitarist Johnny Smith wrote the tune in 1954. Chet Atkins recorded it in 1956. That recording inspired another cover by the Ventures that made it into a rock hit.
With a few minutes left at the end of the show, Elliott returned for an encore that included "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm After They've Seen Paree?" This World War I song became popular after the war had ended and highlighted concern that American soldiers from rural environments would not want to return to farm life after experiencing the European city life and culture of Paris. Hackett joined Elliott for an impromptu rendition of "Goodnight Irene." This 20th-century American folk standard was first recorded by American blues musician Huddie 'Lead Belly' Ledbetter in 1933.
Hackett finished the show with a jazz inspired version of "Puff the Magic Dragon" by Peter Yarrow and Leonard Lipton. Using a digital recording device called a looper, Hackett laid down a rhythm track and a harmony track before playing the melody and improvising.
Photos courtesy of Ron Hackett
Ron and Travis