Roslindale Open Mike
For six or seven years I sat absorbing the music, poetry, speeches of presidents, in the open mikes like a hungry sponge- your voices and chords washed over me like a balm in Gilead - from Emack and Bolio’s to Java Jo’s and ROM, during the most painful passage of my adult life the open mike community infused me with a transformative power that honestly saved me. (But that’s a book)
It was and is still just fine with me to sit and listen... I never felt the need to be on the stage...then some folks (hint: Daisy) told me I should sing. “What just get up there and sing a naked tune? Shouldn’t I learn to play piano? Bring a soundtrack? Find accompaniment?”
No, No, No was the reply, so I got up one night and sang “Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan…with the spontaneous, flawless guitar accompaniment of the one and only Mr. Steve Rapson. I sang that song because it was boiling up inside of me. Of course I wanted it to sound good, but I cared more about conveying what it meant to me with emotional honesty. I had certain people in my mind’s eye as I sang, wounded souls and it was a challenge to keep from breaking in the middle. What was in my heart got through to the audience and that was the real thrill; if I was preoccupied with pitch, keys, notes, and all that stuff…it wouldn’t have touched a soul. From then on over the past year and a half, I would get up and sing when some song got a hold of me, not worrying about the right key as much as the right attitude...as I tell Mike Delaney “I lost my keys.” I can only be true to what I hear in my heart and somehow the right key finds me but don’t ask me what it was. I am not closed to acquiring greater skills however.
I sang my own arrangement of “Over the Rainbow” to my aunt in a restaurant at my family’s insistence recently and people at other tables were moved to tears…it was the bond of love for my aunt that did that, not my vocal talent. When I am in tune with that sensibility things seem to work out well, it’s not the “X” factor, it’s the human factor...the big picture.
Even so, when Neal and Mike offered me a feature slot at ROM, I felt more than a little ambiguous about accepting. Me? Feature?; when there are all these other unequivocally gifted musicians, groups, song-writers, and poets? It almost felt illegal to do it….but all my reasons for wanting to decline could not outweigh the reason why I was compelled to accept- it was an opportunity to use my own interpretation of songs as a narrative of spiritual healing and as such reflect the deep sense of love and gratitude I have for the venue that played such an instrumental (pun intended) role in that process.
Of course I want to sound good, if only for those purists in the crowd who have spent their lives learning all the magical, mystical language of music. And I am happy to say MF Daisy plans to accompany me on piano and a surprise newcomer will be joining me on guitar if all goes as planned.
Most importantly I am the girl with the little dog Cassie, who has been the unofficial mascot of ROM among those in the know. Cassie has been fighting for her life this past week and she has astonished me yet again…all week she has listened to music…which has been an added preparation for me. If the hopeful signs continue you may see her in your midst yet again. (She’s hypoallergenic too!)
I don’t have to be the author to believe in the songs I sing…I also believe the real significance of music as a social reality lies in its ability to transcend all the hype about what is good or bad or is commercially viable (YUCK)…at the core music is about storytelling. I don’t know if I will ever feature anywhere again…but because of what is in my heart, I believe this particular evening is going to be a special one indeed.
Here is the bio for our next feature...