The Scene: August 2020

The Scene – August 2020
By Jane Harrison

It has been one heck of a month! I’m very glad to see the back of July! I’m quite convinced that consistent brown-outs here, every day, over this last month are responsible for the nosedives of almost every appliance or piece of technology I had, including my personal computer and printer. What the heck is going on?

Amazon loves me.

I’m still a bit leery about venturing into indoor settings for live music, even with the CDC guidelines in place and enforced. Because people are people and we’ve been cooped up for what seems like an eternity. And, from what I’ve seen, enforcement is a bit lax indoors, especially in bars.

I did check out a new (to me) open mic Sunday afternoon, July 12. This event has been going on for one, maybe two years, starting at 3 p.m. Many of the participants of the DeFillipis’ MUSIC WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT open mics would then travel to RAFTER’S TAVERN in Callicoon. I have been quite remiss in not doing the same, but with the hourly demands of my former life, I just didn’t have the energy to make it out there. But that was then, this is now.

The array of talent was amazing. The host of this afternoon was a fireball of energy, Elizabeth George, with a voice that was immediately recognizable as trained for Broadway. In fact, in our chat I discovered we lived in New York City at the same time and that she had had a one woman show while I was booking the clubs. We probably ran across one another, but because what we were doing was so different, ‘never the twain shall meet’, so they say. It was amusing to both of us.

I was surprised how many familiar faces were there to participate, especially when a severe thunderstorm delayed everything for an hour and another threat limited everyone to one song. Along with favorites DAVID MILNER, CASWYN MOON and the wonderful surprise of POISON LOVE out of Pennsylvania were some from CABERNET FRANK’S first-of-the-season open mic: KATHY GEARY “The best voice in radio” who hosts NOW AND THEN on WJFF, NICK HEATHEN, ELIZABETH ROSE KEATING (who was stuck here upstate when her tour was cancelled due to the pandemic), JAMIE LILY, BREWSTER and a really excellent surprise of POISON LOVE out of Pennsylvania, whom I saw for the first time at THE PICKLED OWL.

Saturday afternoon, July 26 found me at the DANCING CAT DISTILLERY for THE JOHNNY JULES BAND. I swear, they seem to be the most booked group right now with the limited re-openings. As always, they never disappoint with their country/blues/bluegrass style. And by the scope of their audience on Saturday, I’m not the only one who is never disappointed. Many were people from the city, and got their first taste of the band last year because of the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock and sought them out where they were performing, and showed up. It’s gratifying to see my friend doing so well in these still uncertain times.

They were joined by owner and very talented STACY COHEN, who is always excellent, on backup vocals and by a young woman who was introduced simply as “Max” who can really play that ukulele of hers on two of the Dylan tunes.

After bemoaning having to spend like a drunken sailor to replace all of the ‘things’ that crashed and burned, I received some sobering news that immediately put things into perspective. I found out that my friend, a man I admired for his grasp of the jazz guitar, passed away on the morning of this writing …July 27. Just as the CoVid pandemic made us come face to face with our mortality, so does the death of someone we know. There will be a small family ceremony as he is laid to rest.

AL DEFINO lived in Hurleyville. He spoke a few different languages fluently and skyped regularly with friends around the world. He had been a professor of music at the esteemed BERKLEY COLLEGE OF MUSIC in Boston. He had played the Las Vegas casinos behind “The Rat Pack” and toured with SAMMY DAVIS JR. And he was not without his struggles. Several months ago, he was diagnosed and was being treated for throat cancer. He will be missed greatly.

Until next time……..