By Jane Harrison
Saturday afternoon, May 22, I went out to see THE JOHNNY JULES BAND on the deck of THE DISTILLERY next to THE DANCING CAT SALOON.
Parking was a problem- which was good, because it meant Johnny had attracted his usual great crowd. I wasn’t wrong, I got one of the last empty chairs left! The ultra-tight trio of JOHNNY JULES on guitar and lead vocals, DAVID D’ARCY on upright bass/back-up vocals AND BOB DELASSANDRO (BOBBY D) on Dobro were joined by three additional instruments played by consummate musicians, making this a six-piece band!
TRISH MURPHY on banjo was someone the band met at FROGGY DAZE in Narrowsburg in May and just clicked with. Adding a banjo can be a tricky thing. It can be overpowering, or if the key of the song is not adhered to, it can be jarring. Trish’s banjo notes wound around both GLENN LAZARO’S guitar as well as JOHNNY’S, like a silk scarf, sometimes underscoring, sometimes emphasizing. It was magical to listen to.
I have heard MANGO MIKE and his mandolin before. In this large group, he sometimes would go with the flow, adding a quiet sweetness to the melody, and other times sprinkling those staccato butterflies over the top when warranted.
GLEN LAZARO often performs with Dancing Cat owner STACY COHEN. His guitar playing in this instance was a little bit rhythm, a little bit second guitar adding depth. And here was my good friend, Johnny, orchestrating it all as a sort of band leader. For as long as I’ve known him, he can still surprise me. That much larger group became a cohesive unit. And just before they took a break, Johnny tracked down Stacy so she could add her voice. A truly wonderful way to spend an afternoon!
As joyous as this day was, it was also very sad. As of May 23, THE DANCING CAT and the adjacent DISTILLERY are no more, having been sold. It was the first shining jewel to appear in Sullivan County in the decade I have lived here. It welcomed live music. It was where I lunched with and had dinner with friends. It was where I was introduced to a cocktail invention one December by one of the bartenders, the name she called it having been long lost. To me, it was always the “Cat Cocktail.” It was where two friends of mine met, became friends, then fell in love. It was an amazing place, and I attribute all it was to the personality of STACY COHEN, which was so entwined with THE DANCING CAT that speaking of either meant you were speaking of both. It is unclear what the new owners have in mind. It is unclear whether live music fits their vision. It is believed they will continue distilling.
Venues, even the strictly outdoor ones, are still reluctant to release a schedule of booked live music at any time other than last minute. I respect that. These are the few live music events I know:
OUTDOOR VENUES (weather permitting and until further notice):
Open Mic every Sunday at RAFTERS in Callicoon; 3 p.m.
Open Mic every Thursday at CABERNET FRANK’S in Parksville; 7 p.m.
Friday, June 4: OXFORD STATION at CABERNET FRANK’S in Parksville; 7:30 p.m.
Saturday June 5:
JAZZ ON THE LAWN at 1864 Route 52, Liberty; 5 p.m.; admission $20 (includes food) TICKETS LIMITED
OXFORD STATION at the SMOKE JOINT, Livingston Manor; 5:30 p.m.
POISON LOVE at RAFTERS, Callicoon; 7 p.m.
Stay safe, stay strong, and if you’re more comfortable masked, MASK UP!
Until next time….