Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge – September 12th, 2011 – Show #252

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Say… you’re not from around here are ya suuuuun….

I didn’t have to look far for a judge this week. My upstairs neighbor, an awesome woman who relocated from Austin, Texas a few years ago had a house guest who was more than up to the challenge and the experience. Raybo Novick, born in the Dakotas and currently a Texan as well took in a stellar night of music with us and tackled the job of ‘judge’ with a pleasant vigor. Raybo is a familiar face to me from the Kerrville Folk Festival which happens in Kerr County, TX every year. It’s an 18 day marathon that no singer/songwriter should ever miss out on. I asked Raybo for a bio to promote the show, and what I got was too entertaining not to print!  

“Dakota born, homeless son of the USA. Uncle, Godfather, ordained minister (manogod.com for all of your ceremonial needs), poet, singer songwriter, paleontological botanical research analyst/junior field archeologist, sandcastle instructor, butcher, baker, candlestick maker, and dream interpreter. Host of a wintertime homeless house concert series on South Padre Island, Texas (please check out sandcastleinn.com and come play for us!) and the president of the Baker Thomas Band fan club, Kerrville chapter.” – Raybo Novik.

Although I don’t like to invest in the contest aspect of our show too much, it always breaks my heart when a stellar performer leaves before our final three round or as I like to call it, “Midnight Madness”. Mary Bichner, who is a part of a band called Box Five, was one such artist. A standout performer for her ease and confidence on stage, her aggressive approach to the mic, a strong strum and funky rock star apparel and dyed hair, Mary gave our open mic a smoking edge with an original and a cover. Another stand out that took off on the early side was The Smile Makers. A powerful male/female duo consisting of bass and guitar with harmonies to match, TSM were in complete control of their precise musicianship and execution of parts for a great two song set. Bassist Nicole Sutka even pulled out a flute for a finale solo to close the set. Rockin’.

One more early performer I’ll talk about is Jay Ottaway, a great story teller who is always working for the community. Jay presents the Plymouth Folk Festival in Plymouth, VT every year, and after seeing him perform in that element a few times I really understand the influence. Often donning a classic country hat, and always with a song introduction that the audience can grab on to, Jay is a true country/folk musician, a story teller and a man of wisdom. Always a hit.

Now… down to the nitty gritty! As with every week, someone goes home with our humble door prize and tonight would be no different! Around midnight or so, Raybo had his final three ready to go!

  This week’s final three would be Dani Moz, The Motivated Sequence and Matt Borrello.

This would be Dani Moz’s 2nd LLOMC, and 2nd appearance in the final three as well — it’s no wonder. Dani plays with a strong confidence. A bit more R&B than our open mic is used to, and a welcome change. She’s a great piano player, and throws down a solid and rhythmic left hand while playing through the changes with her right. Her style on piano is impressive enough, and then she knocks you out with her powerful voice; one part pretty, one part bluesy and gruff, with a control over her back of the throat growl that comes only from natural talent mixed with hours of practice. Dani Moz is a hit!

The Motivated Sequence, a larger band stripped down to a piano/guitar duo played our stage well tonight. A strong tenor voice from Zach Burt backed up by a solid yet delicate piano style from Bethany Kiuru, this duo set up an atmosphere that transcends the listener into the song. Great hooks and a great sound with plenty of space as opposed to an aggressive act which pushes the envelope to fill up every sonic hole. Motivated Sequence is a very smooth act.

Matt Borrello was a force of nature on this fine evening. Matt is a tremendous guitar player with a great mix of dirty ol’ blues, heart crushing folk styles and a ‘step up to the plate’ attitude. Somehow, he delivers with the confidence of a weathered soul in his prime at the young age of 21. Looking the part with a country jacket, boots and shaggy rock and roll hair, Matt took the stage by storm, and backed up his appearance with a winner 2 song set. The final song of night was no different.

Raybo leaned over to me at some point during Matt’s set and said, “I really like this guy”. I had a feeling at that point that the winner of the 252nd LLOMC would be Matt Borrello… I was right.

Thank you for making it through another LLOMC review at www.thebackstagebeat.com Please do come down and take in a show anytime. Every Monday night at The Lizard Lounge. 1667 Mass Ave. Cambridge, MA. Doors @ 7:30, show @ 8pm. Final three at midnight. See ya!
ToM

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