Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Conch Shell

Well last night had a few interesting fillips.   One of which is that the pizza slices at the place below Lickety Split (401 South Street) are as big as your head.   I had two.  I was hungry.

I did double-duty last night, checking out artists I had seen previously, and generally being out and about.  My birthday started at midnight, so I was determined to be somewhere in the city when the odometer clicked over.

At Burlap and Bean in Newtown Square, Philly Songwriters was having their bi-weekly showcase. I came to see AlyCat, who I enjoyed at the PSP finals at Milkboy weeks earlier.

The evening kicked off with two thirds of Funkharp.   Terry "Thundercat" laid down the bass foundation, and Joseph sang, played guitar and harmonica (the "funkharp" itself)   He threw himself into his playing with some abandon.   They had a neat trick where they recorded a riff -- live -- and immediately looped it back and built on, or harmonized, with it.   Many wonderful effects.  Then there was that thing with the conch shell, but more on that later.

Folk singer Darcy Sebright was trying out her sea legs, or kaffeehaus arms, with some song she had written partly with the benefit of her Masters in poetry.   One song was written as a collage, the lyrics literally cut and pasted from another poem.   She sang directly to me and pressed a CD in my hand at the end of the evening, and her playing and voice and much more assured on the CD.    She also did a song about how her husband and she would leave little post-it notes to each other, and some wondered whether he was going to chide her about that after she left.

AlyCat rocked.  And rocks.   She had 4 of her 7-piece backup band.  There was a trumpet and there were bongos, plus electric *and* acoustic guitar.  Aly plays the electric bass and sings.   They have a very hot funk sound going, and they're worth checking out.   Afterwards I hung out with them a little, and we talked about maybe doing some writing together.  But time will tell.  Look for her at Tritone in September.

I made it into Center City to hook up with Lee Morgan.   Lee and his friend Ed were stuck playing to a near-empty (or totally empty) room for some small percentage of the bar which wasn't much.      But they played their Americana (and more harmonicas) with gusto and feeling.   They had been playing on and off for two hours when I got there, and Lee was still going after 1am when I left.

Oh, the conch shell -- Joseph, of Funkharp, pulled out an actual conch shell.  Thundercat laid down the familar opening bassline of the "Pink Panther" theme, and Joseph managed to blow out the melody, by using his hand to control the flow of air from the shell.   It was truly something to behold.

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