The Lizard has played host to some of my favorites shows I have ever played or seen. My pal Greg Loftus’s Boston to Austin going away party, our 1st and 2nd Year Anniversary shows, anytime Session Americana plays. There is something special about the dim light, red hue of the basement room that is just cozy and relaxing. An atmosphere for listening and enjoying music if there every was one…plus for the drinking crowd, the beer selection cannot be beat. But there is a night at the Lizard Lounge that has been ongoing for years and is quite possibly the most valuable and untapped resource (to a greater listening audience…songwriters of course know about it) for finding some of the very best, and perhaps somewhat underground, talents that this town has to offer. That, my friends, is Tom Bianchi’s Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge.
I personally go through stages, where I go to the LLOMC, then I won’t go for 6 months, then I will go again and kick my own ass for not going. Last evening was a “kick my own ass” type of evening. I headed out to the Lizard only having seen 3 folks on the list before (Anna Rae, Bob Bradshaw and Ansel Barnum). This was enough to get me in the door, even if I hadn’t been playing myself. What I got to hear over the course of the evening was, as always, magic.
Julia Mark hopped on the piano and then to the uke, playing a pop sensical, but smart, style of music that was singalong worthy, but not necessary. She commanded the audience with her pleasant voice…which guest judge Jared Salvatore apparently agreed with, as she took home the gold this evening.
Joshua Taylor was a real treat and surprise for me. With his charming British accent, he introduced himself and that he had only been in town for a couple of months and heard that this was the place to be. His voice was a shock, beautiful really. And the tone that he pulled out of his Taylor cutaway acoustic was absolutely phenomenal.
Mikael G.K. was another standout for me. His music was submissive, but so powerful. His words were artful and deep, his gentle picking on his nylon string guitar was the perfect accompaniment to his haunting voice.
Bob Bradshaw has quickly climbed into my favorite songwriters list. He has this confidence in his voice. It’s got a Randy Newman type quality. Wholesome, strong. And his songs are wonderful to boot.
Anna Rae, well, this gal always impresses. Unleashing some really excellent bass rhythm AND lead during her set. Like, at the same time. She has great hooks, killer riffs, and just kills it every time.
I see HUGE potential in Atlas Mason. The register where his voice sits makes your ribcage rattle and your body quake. Deep and honey whiskey tinged goodness.
A gent who went by the moniker “Vibrant” really stole the show, with his mix of slam poetic-rap-r&b that really struck a chord with folks. Straight acapella he really captivated the crowd.
Julio Sharp-Wasserman was a huge surprise as well. Truly, he blew me away. Beautiful songs and such a tender and gentle jazzy touch to his guitar playing and singing. Very James Taylor-esque. Expect good things from this gent.
The last duo to play the evening was also fantastic. Tranzette mentioned that they typically produce EDM genre music. But they have begun to arrange acoustic versions of the songs. Really cool stuff, the piano player was great and the lead singing gal had a powerhouse of a voice. I have to go and listen to the electronic stuff now.
The 3 artists of the night to play in the “final round” of the night were Julia Mark, Julio Sharp-Wasserman, and well…me. The thing that is so special is that you really have no idea who will be picked form the bunch to perform another song, because everyone is so damn talented. Anyone who played really could be the winner of the evening. It doesn’t matter who wins or doesn’t…you just got to take in more fantastic songs that you would anywhere else.
There is such a variety ranging from straight folk storytelling to infectious pop to rock n roll and roots…even rap makes its way down there occasionally. What I got from last evening…aside from a white knuckle ride home on the ice rink that was Mass Ave….was a true tasting of a whole bunch of what Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston have to offer in true, organic talent. The Lizard Lounge Open Mic is THE PLACE to catch amazing acts. Everyone should be lined up down the street every week for this thing.
See you there!