Open mic nights are like yard sales. With few exceptions, the quality of the merchandize is generally pretty inconsistent with a smattering of eclectic vanity pieces designed for individual tastes. But every once in a while – and usually by compete accident – you uncover a gem.
A few weeks ago, I accompanied friend who lives in the Bay area to an open mic in Mill Valley, California at a venue called Sweetwater Music Hall. As someone born and raised just outside of Philadelphia, I don’t get out west as much as I’d like. I’ve been to Sweetwater exactly once before a few years ago to check out Johnette Napolitano (formerly of Concrete Blonde) as she delighted a packed house with an inspired solo set. Sweetwater is a great sounding little venue for live music. And it’s pretty rare to find an open mic being hosted by someone as accomplished as Austin de Lone. With my expectations set to mediocre, I agreed to come out that Monday night.
My friend tells me that there was a time when Sweetwater’s open mic nights would regularly include many of the world class musicians who lived in the area: Sammy Hagar, Jerry Harrison, Huey Lewis and Carlos Santana would often sit in for a song or two – much to the delight of the ever adoring locals. While at least one of those casual gods could be spotted in the back of the room that Monday night, I’m sad to report that none of them took the stage.
On this night, it was mostly like other open mics you may have been too. Some talented performers, a group from the local high school shrieking into the microphone like Yoko Ono and at least one unfortunate soul who made the unforgivable sin of forgetting the words and/or the chords to their favorite Beatles song. Just your typical, ordinary, for the love of god please keep the drinks flowing Monday night open mic.
And then something special happened. The house lights dimmed and a six-foot tall, maniacal ball of energy appeared on the stage. The people at the table next to me whispered to us: “that guy was here last week, and he was fantastic!” But neither of them seemed to know who “that guy” was.
Turns out – that guy’s name is Alan Chapell. Chapell has a quirky stage presence that could easily hold the attention of a much larger room and combined with the charm and intimacy of someone who was playing in your living room. I’ve never seen someone command a room full of strangers to enthusiastically sing a song that they’d never heard before. But that’s exactly what happened when Chapell began singing “Soul Man”. From the very first song, Chapell had this crowd in the palm of his hands.
Chapell mostly plays the piano and sings. I say “mostly” because he kept getting up in the middle of songs or in between them to direct the crowd or share an aside off mic. He stood up and got the audience clapping during the third verse as Chapell sang a cappella on the song “Waiting”. Sort of reminded me of the great Jonathan Richman minus Tommy Larkin on drums as Chapell got the entire room clapping along.
Chapell did four songs that night – remarkable in that its sort of an unwritten rule at open mics that everyone is allowed to play only one or two songs. Getting asked to do another song by the host is almost the equivalent of a stand-up comic being called to Johnny Carson’s couch after their set. (Yeah, I’ve probably been watching too much of Showtime’s “I’m dying up here” – sue me.) Chapell most certainly did not squander his additional songs and closed with a haunting etude called “I’m Coming Over” – one which really drove home how vulnerable and sweet Chapell’s voice can be when he’s not screaming off mic.
I caught up with Chapell briefly after he left the stage. Turns out that he’s an east coast guy too. Chapell hails from New York City but occasionally spends time in the houseboat community in nearby Sausalito. He started coming out to the Bay area a few years ago to record an album with Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads fame and now views Sausalito as second home.
Chapell has a seven-piece band back in NYC, but has started playing shows with a smaller lineup – which is one of the reasons he was at Sweetwater that night. “I was initially reluctant to play without my full band, but I kept getting asked to play places where it wasn’t practical to bring everyone,” says Chapell. “We were invited to play a show in Sandpoint Idaho with the Flobots earlier this year and my violinist Lorenza Ponce and I were the only ones from my band who were able to make it. When that concert went over so well, I realized that I could be a bit more flexible in my approach.” So, while Chapell still mostly plays with the full band, he’s done stripped down shows opening for bands like Big Head Todd and the Gin Blossoms as well.
So, what’s next for Chapell? “We’re currently mixing my third album and are making plans for later this year to start recording my fourth. And we’re in discussions to play a show or two with the Bacon Brothers in August. Finally, I’ll have my whole band with me at City Winery in NYC on August 16th.”
I’ll be there at City Winery on August 16th. If you want to catch Chapell before he completely blows up, I suggest you be there too.
Sammy Milone is a part-time author and full-time skeptic. He lives with his wife Wendy and dog Niko in Lower Gwynedd Township, PA.
US Rock N’ Roll Band Remember The Monsters Drop New Video For “Sink”
“Sink” by Remember The Monsters is a virtually perfect Rock N’ Roll song for today’s generation. The Arizona-based quartet create a sense of introspection with the lyrics, which appear to reference that sometimes you have to start over from scratch. This is especially so when a destructive person tries to sink you down into the abyss. In other words, as soon as your five senses perceive any uncomfortable situation, you must take action before it’s too late. Well, I really like the concept behind this effervescent rockish anthem because it invites listeners to lift their spirits. Best of all, these guys offer a high-quality music video to capture the lead singer’s raw emotions and overall performance. Watch it down here.
CONNECT WITH REMEMBER THE MONSTERS NOW!
KAATO, An Original Rock & Roll Band Release “Somebody, Someday”
It’s finally here! KAATO have released the first single from their latest 7-track album ‘Slam!’. The track “Somebody, Someday” is available to stream now on all major digital platforms. Definitely, you can tell these guys excel at delivering ferocious hard rock energy. The Tennesse-based band is made up by four members: Kurt Lowney (vocals), Mika Nuutinen (bass), Hunter Lovan (lead guitar), and Christopher Williams (drums). Furthermore, they put all their heart and soul into this project, which was recorded at their home studio. This killer new tune carries a driving nature that will have everybody hooked in an instant. Don’t just take my word for it, witness the powerful/aggressive beats for yourself right here!
CONNECT WITH KAATO NOW!
Matthew Browning Releases Music Video Filmed In Jean-Roach Dry Lake Bed
Matthew Browning captures the natural scenery of Jean-Roach Dry Lake Bed on his latest clip. The Progressive Rock artist chose wisely this beautiful location for his single “Underneath The Willow Tree”. In fact, the incredibly shot music video invites us to reflect on suffering. Of course, it is part of the human condition, and the key is to learn how to react to it. One way or another, some scenes can help arouse emotions or make a call to our collective conscience.
The most striking thing about these visuals is watching a woman grieving over sporadic images of refugees. Likewise, his lyrics won’t fail to touch your heart. Beyond that, the human tragedies that cause displacement is an issue that should not be taken lightly. We must put ourselves in their shoes in order to understand the harsh reality others live.
CONNECT WITH MATTHEW BROWNING NOW!
This One’s For Rock Fans, Abe Unleashes His Three-Track EP ‘Not My Problem’
While it’s not his first EP, Abe‘s ‘Not My Problem’ is probably his strongest material to date. The 19-year-old independent artist from San Antonio, Texas, unleashes three tracks that will be part of his upcoming album to be released this summer. In fact, it is worth stressing that it was recorded, mixed and sang by the young man himself. What’s more, he proves that having a music studio in his bedroom is not a limiting factor for creating powerful songs that please hard Rock fans.
When you listen to the self-titled single, you will notice it features aggressive riffs, plus a great execution of his raspy screaming vocals. Then, on “Butterfly Woman”, I love the distorted guitar sound at the background. As a result, he creates an engaging psychedelic-like experience. Finally, with the last track “Anymore”, get ready to be completely hammered by the unpolished instrumental work, and the whole energetic rockish vibe. That said, Abe let off some steam when expressing emotionally intense lyrics. In conclusion, it’s a great EP to listen to as loud as possible!
CONNECT WITH ABE NOW!
This Is A Must-Listen Rockish Tune, “Premonition” By Roseburg
Roseburg‘s “Premonition” has already garnered thousands of streams on SoundCloud. For sure, its rockish vibes still attract listeners from all across the world. The riff-heavy single was released two months ago by the Utah-based band, and it’s featured on the two-track EP ‘Moving Away!’. Certainly, their lyrical prowess + creativity is pretty clear and evident. Personally, I like how this authentic song talks about a strong feeling that something is about to happen and remaining calm no matter what. With pleasant vocals, and some powerful drumming, “Premonition” will stick in your head for days.
On the other hand, the highly anticipated single from their upcoming debut album ‘Righteous Punk’, entitled “Be Good” is to be released on May 25th”. Fans can enjoy the new single by following Roseburg on all platforms below.
CONNECT WITH ROSEBURG NOW!
Electro3 months ago
Maximals & Boothed Release Electro-Progressive ‘Up & Down’ EP On Protocol Recordings
Electro4 months ago
Sam Void’s Bass House “Feel The Low” Kicks Off 2019 For Protocol Recordings
Electro2 months ago
Sebastian Park’s New Tune Is Full Of Energy & Latin Vibes
Electro5 months ago
Michael Feiner Delivers A Latin-Influenced Sound On “Aventura”
Dance3 months ago
French Producer RavenKis Releases Smooth Progressive Downtempo Track “Roller Coaster”
Electro12 months ago
Drone Flesh Works His Magic On New EP ‘Other Worlds’
Electro5 months ago
Best Electro House Mix Of 2018 — Free Download
Disco8 months ago
Justice Drop Video For “Love S.O.S.”, And It Features A Male Prostitute!