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    SpeakeasyDC Crowd ROCKS OUT

    Recaps & Reviews August 14th, 2012 By Stephanie Garibaldi

    You could feel the same kind of electricity in the air as right before the best concert of your life–the one that had you camping out all night just to get a ticket. It was July 10, and the show’s theme was Band Camp: Stories about Music, Raves, and Rock & Roll.

    By the time Host Amy Saidman stepped on the stage to open the show, the packed house went wild with applause, whoopin’, and hootenanny. Amy talked about the very first concert she ever saw: Prince’s Purple Rain, because even in her youth, she was cool like that. She shared from cards that audience members had filled out about their first concerts ever, including Kiss, Lionel Ritchie, Britney Spears Bitch, (comment or tour name?) and even Elvis.

    (Really? Wow.)

    The audience grew even more raucous when Amy announced that the first performer would be none other than SpeakeasyDC fav a la Top Shelf fame, Erin Myers. Erin spoke of a time that’s hard to imagine: when she first arrived in DC, didn’t know anyone, and was a bit lonely, what with her hubby working nights. It was this hubby who brought home a 2nd turntable and mixer out of the blue, declaring that he wanted to become a DJ. Although Erin poked fun of him for it, (“Whatever, Fatboy Slim,”) she was secretly fascinated by the idea, and started messing around with the DJ equipment on the sly. Erin takes us through the art behind beat matching, from her first failure (note: “Check the Rhyme” by A Tribe Called Quest and “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones cannott be mixed, no matter how skilled you are) to her ultimate success keeping people dancing all night at the Black Cat — her first job spinning as what is now the legendary DJ Lil’ E. And you thought Erin was just a superstar of the storytelling world . . .

    Next, long-time storytelling fav, master juggler, and video-editing god Nick Newlin told his tale of true pian-itude. It starts as a boy, when he imagines himself as the Easy Rider while riding to piano lessons on his new banana-seat bicycle. He never learns to read sheet music, playing only by ear, which works fine for his regular piano teacher but gets him into trouble when forced to compete at the International Bach Festival. So Nick becomes wary of recitals, yet still signs up for piano class as an older boarding school student, in the hope of an easy A. The class has a recital though, and sure enough, it looks like things are going drastically wrong again for our beloved Nick. Instead of getting an easy “A,” our Easy Rider wannabe is told he’s going to flunk the class. Only the resourcefulness of his teacher plus Nick’s ability to get into the head of Chopin can save him from failure and ultimately make him the Renaissance Man of Rock we know and love today.

    No one would have guessed that Dawn McCaslin was performing on our stage for the first time, as she rocked the house like the Mick Jagger of the storytelling world. Dawn related what happened on a special night when she went to see the band Phantom Planet — not just for their music, but to get the lead singer Alex to make eye contact with her during the concert, so that he’d fall in love instantly and make her his rock wife. She’s dressed in her full Goth finest, complete with 5-inch heels, strutting from the bathroom to the stage, knowing that the magic’s going to happen, when she starts getting laughter from the passing crowd. Turns out she’s done the classic skirt-tuck-into-the-underwear gaffe, and she’s been flashing the crowd. She shakes it off though as the band starts to play, and there’s Alex, giving her a real smile, which dazzles her so much that she loses her balance on those huge heels and not only goes down, but takes an A-list celebrity down with her, with Alex watching it all. Just when things can’t get worse, they do, as a crazed muscle-man-on-crack comes busting through the crowd and heading straight for Dawn. Through a miraculous combination of gonad grabbing and Spirit-of-She-Ra invoking, Dawn bests the beast, wins over the crowd, and impresses Alex. Turns out there’s nothing life can throw at her that she can’t handle with her moves like Jagger.

    Another first-timer to our stage, Justin Hefter duck-walked his way into our hearts with his all-too-real story about trying to woo either of two hot Latina women he took to a Reggaetone concert. How did he even get two hot Latina women to go with him to the concert, you astutely wonder? Well, he befriended one by accidentally spilling mustard in her purse at a ball game — tres suave, but hey, it worked. She invites her friend as a set up, and thus the bizarre threesome is born. Justin lucks into a back stage pass that he parlays into back stage passage for all three, thinking that he’s hit the pinnacle of suave and surely impressed both women — right up until he loses his car keys in his trunk, that is. This small-but-sad error in judgment leads to a 20-minute search effort through all the crap in his trunk, while the girls tease, torment, and spank his exposed hind parts, crushing all hope for romance with either. Justin may have accepted a lower smooth factor with ladies, but he’s high on the storytelling scale. We hope to have him back on our stage again soon–faster than a glob of mustard can fall into an open purse.

    Hillary Rea, while debuting for SpeakeasyDC, is no stranger to the storytelling stage, as the host of multiple shows in Philly. So we expected ringer-level greatness from this surprisingly young-yet-accomplished teller, and we were not disappointed. Like so many teenagers, 15-year-old Hillary dreamed of catching a lead singer’s eye and enchanting him so deeply through sustained eye contact that he’d fall in love with her and ultimately marry her. Only unlike most teenagers, it actually was happening for Hillary. She bumps into her intended future hubby at a record store and engages him in witty repartee. Then she gets pulled up on stage to sing a duet with him, and it goes so well that she’s pulled up again and again to sing the same duet, which granted, isn’t a love duet, but rather a song about his ex-girlfriend turning lesbian, but even so. Addresses and letters are exchanged, phone calls are made, and back-stage passes are always left for Hillary whenever the band plays her town. So things build until the day when in front of the band’s screaming fans, the lead singer gets down on one knee and gives her a rainbow-colored plastic bracelet. No, he doesn’t technically say the words, “Will you marry me?” but she knows what he means. Hillary tells all her high school friends that she’s engaged to a rock star, and they believe it–largely because they’ve seen their on-stage antics. Ultimately, their relationship stops short of marriage and of anything more than a “really long hug,” but Hillary does get 2 glamorous formative years out of it plus a fantastic story. We hope to get another back stage pass into your marvelous mind, Hillary, the next time you’re in town.

    After a brief break and delightful drink special from Town, the puppet king of Maryland and veteran storyteller Michael Cotter got us back into the music-story swing of things with his touching tale of how music came to play into his life and then change it for good. Music lessons never took as a child, so Michael assumed he didn’t have musicality in him, and he’d prepared to live out a music-less existence. Then he became a teacher in a poverty program, and started spending evenings with other teachers, who happened to be in a band. So they’d often sit around jamming together, and Michael, just to keep from getting bored really, messes with a flute that no one else is using, until he manages to get some sounds out of it at last, and kind of flail along with his pals. When the program ends, his friend who owns the flute tells him to keep it, insisting that Michael’s better at playing it than he is. The gift enables him to keep practicing the flute, and he finds other local musicians to jam with. So it is that he meets the smoking-hot, musically gifted woman who becomes his best friend and wife of the last 31 years. Even more than that, he loves being part of the joyful musical community that he almost missed altogether. That flute truly was the gift that keeps on giving, as Michael demonstrated by getting us to clap along while he played some of the jazziest flute I’ve ever heard. Michael, we’re grateful for the gift of your music as well as for sharing your story–thank you.

    Blazing first-timer Diana Metzger blew us away with her wild romp of an almost romantic adventure. After 2 years of piano lessons at the tender age of 8, Diana is asked by her parents to please quit. So she accepts that she doesn’t have the musical talent necessary to front a band, and decides instead to be the inspiration for a band, a la “Band Aid” Penny Lane from the movie Almost Famous. She determines that all you need are 3 things to inspire a band: 1) curly hair, which she has already–done; 2) faux fur, which she also has already–double done, and 3) the willingness to sleep with at least one member of the band — not done yet, but she’s going to make it happen. Sadly, throwing her A-cup bra onto the head of a roadie mid-concert doesn’t get her anywhere with the 40 something band members. So she starts researching young bands online and emailing them requests to come play at her university. She hits pay dirt when she gets an email back from a 24-year-old drummer who lives with his parents and resembles Jabba the Hut. She makes the magic happen, even after she learns that his favorite cereal is Rice Chex. Sadly, he ends their great love affair, leading Diana to spend a night in the bath tub weeping in luke-warm water. Later, she learned that the band then broke up and reformed without drummer boy. So Diana has the satisfaction of being the anti-Yoko: you break up with her, and you’re out of the band, bucko. Watch out!

    Hard-core 2nd-timer Mike Baireuther took the stage by storm with his story of the Sophie’s Choice of London internships. After sleeping through both of his internship interviews on the morning of Day One, it doesn’t bode well for either position. But he gets both rescheduled, and so finds himself in two very different parts of London: first he goes to Traffic Marketing, in a scary part of town, complete with aggressive shoe salesmen on the streets, bars on the windows, and friendly drug-dealers in his face. He learns that this position involves merely passing out flyers for concerts, but he’d also get to attend all those concerts. Next, he finds himself in a swank part of London, with everyone looking very Banana Republic, as he walks past dual-use urban planning buildings of glass and steel–oh my! There he reaches the brand spanking new office of Carlson Marketing with an actual pool table and everything. He’s interviewed by 3 different reps from Carlson, including an English woman with such large boobs that he can’t remember anything that comes during or after her interview. Almost inexplicably, he winds up getting both positions, and is then faced with the choice of which one to take. It’s a no-brainer for his father, who doesn’t hesitate to urge him to take the one at Carlson with the great reputation to help his resume. But it’s not so obvious for Mike, who considers carefully before choosing. Then, once he’s on his way to his first day of work, he witnesses a guy stealing the door off of a telephone booth, while another guy mystifies Mike by calling out to his female companion, “I’ll be your dog! I’ll be your dog!” What does that mean? It means he’s in a really bad part of town, passing out flyers for a concert. It’s not until he enjoys that first concert and the way it brings everyone together that he knows he’s made the right decision–that plus the fact that no one makes him his dog.

    Another concert enthusiast followed Mike–the lovely, energetic first-timer Arthuretta Martin, who’s so into music–especially of the 70s, when she was a teenager. She longed to go to concerts, but unfortunately her strict parents didn’t believe in letting kids go out at night. So Arthuretta had to beg and plead her case, along with the help of a hip Uncle Charles who offered to chaperone, to get her folks to let her see a concert. And it’s not just any concert, but one with 4 bands: Mandrill, New Birth, the Funkadelics, and Blood Stone. She and her two girlfriends are having such a great time–just groovin’ to the music, that she doesn’t even notice at first that she’s gotten separated from her 2 friends, and she keeps right on dancing. Then suddenly she hears shots ring out, the music stop, and people stampeding. She’s knocked to the floor, just trying to cover her face, when a hand from nowhere grabs her hand and pulls her up. She never sees the face of the person who saved her. Then she finds her friends, who tell her “Someone got shot!” and the music starts up again–they’re back to dancing. When she gets home and her mother demands to know if she’s learned anything, she tells her she learned so much about music and life, and see? Nothing bad happened. Her mom goes to bed, and Arthuretta admits to the audience that the biggest thing she learned is that if you go to a concert, you should never tell your parents that you heard shots, got caught up in a stampede, and almost lost your life. It was not Arthuretta’s last concert, and we hope it won’t be her last story either.

    Finally, we had one of the world’s funniest storytellers close the show, the one-and-only Adam Ruben. Adam starts by acknowledging that the first person to invoke the Holocaust in a debate loses the debate, but what happens when the Holocaust is invoked in musical comedy? That is what he found out first-hand as a writer for a musical comedy sketch troupe at university, when in the interest of being racy and pushing the boundaries, he created “The Holocaust Rag,” which was sung by Hitler with 2 of his buxom secretaries singing back up. Adam, being Jewish, thought he was allowed, and was thrilled by it’s initial positive reception when it’s selected as a show number. He found the production funny and cute, because Hitler’s dressed in pajamas complete with bunny slippers with little mustaches. But it becomes highly controversial, with troupe members asking him to have it taken out of the show because it’s upsetting the cast. Adam has to face hard-hitting Qs about art and where you draw the line when it comes to comedy subjects, if you draw a line at all. While we don’t get to hear the entire song, we’re confident that if anyone can find humor in Hitler, it’s Adam. We’re just glad you keep creating art and sharing your hilarious stories.

    The same goes for all of July’s talented open mikers. Thanks for taking us with you on this wild concert of compelling music-based stories and for helping us relive the power of music through your eyes, ears, and experience.

    Don’t forget to catch our next Speakeasy on Tuesday, August 14, 8:00 pm at Town on the theme: Baked: Stories about Summer. You can read the blog review later to relive the joy of the show again–sizzle on!

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