In writing this post, I’ve struggled a bit, trying to reconcile how I could never fairly capture or include all of the talented songwriters in Annapolis. The reality is that I can’t. But I can share a local secret with you.
Bear with me as I recall to you, many years ago, a French-Cambodian friend of mine who introduced me to the celebrated Chinatown restaurants in Washington, D.C. We’d hit them in the wee hours, long after the din of diners had passed. Invariably, there’d be a large round banquet table in the corner with a passel of thin old men playing cards – dealing, cackling and smoking their hand-rolled cigarettes. Our host, the restaurant’s owner, would welcome us with open arms and endless dishes of oriental delights. We’d leave after many rounds of Tsing-Tao or hot tea, feeling that we had been on an exotic excursion to a far-away land. Our bellies were full; we’d had our fill of warm stories and laughs. Life was good.
I get a similar old-world feeling after relaxing with Monday-night music in Annapolis: generous hospitality, shared stories, and hearty laughs generate a simultaneous feeling of satisfaction and the sense that I have been on a secret and wonderful odyssey. Monday nights in Annapolis are like my sweet memories of Chinatown, but a lot more accessible.
We start with an early visit to the Cahalans’ 49 West, a cozy and eclectic coffee shop on West Street. As you peer into the large shop windows, entering through the general store door, you might not realize that this is one of the cooler venues in town. Put on the look of a local, passing up tables of regulars with coffee as they intimately rendezvous. Nod knowingly and smile to the staff serving from behind the pastry-case counter and keep confidently walking – back to where one might expect to come upon rest rooms. This is where you’ll find your reward.
The private room is not large or fancy but, upon entering, you can feel the groove of homemade velveteen drapes, odd appointments and a local artist’s exhibit of photographs, portraits, or paintings. The evening’s hosts will be unwinding cables, positioning musical equipment and chairs, and you will receive your hearty welcome. Be sure to get there early – this room will soon be “standing room only” and the music is exceptional.
Visiting players include such favorites as Mike Heuer, Benjamin Bays, Tobias Russell, Katie Fisher, Jordan Sokel, Joe Harkum, Shawn Owen, The Audissey, Cole Cash, Letitia VanSant, Bob Sima and youngblood locals, Devin McCord & Mikey Powers of Sun Club, Niki Weller, Adam Narimatsu and Ahren Buchheister. Line-ups change every week and you can always find advance word on Facebook.
Originally intending 49 West as a home for local talent, owner Brian Cahalan brokered partnerships with independent songwriters, including Ruben Dobbs, Dave Glaser and Justin Trawick. In turn, due to an increasing schedule, Ruben sublet this series to the young masters, Alexander Peters and Skribe, although he does still occasionally step in to perform, pal around or just listen.
Frequently, the venue is a layover for traveling musicians. It’s natural that friendships, gypsy junkets and reciprocating accommodations arise from this magical musical networking. Networking, fellowship, community, support-sometimes it’s hard to know who is having more fun, we patrons or the songwriters. Join me; you can be the judge!
1st Monday: Songwriters’ Showcase, with Alexander Peters, Skribe and Guests. 8 to 10pm, $8 cover.
3rd Monday: 12 Voices at 49 West, a monthly songwriter series hosted by David Glaser which features monthly artists. 7:30pm show (7pm doors open), $12. Call 410-626-9796 for reservations.
Last Monday: As described on Justin’s Facebook page:
“Founded in 2008 by singer/songwriter Justin Trawick, “The 9 Songwriter Series” is a touring live music event based in Washington, DC. The show was created with the idea of nine artists getting together and combining their talents in order to play in nicer clubs and to larger amounts of people. Each installment features nine solo singer/songwriters performing in rotation and often sitting in with each other, providing audiences with a rich, intimate, varied listening experience. Where else can you hear almost 30 songs from nine different artists for only $10? To date, over 60 different artists have participated in “The 9″, at events in DC, Arlington, Bethesda, Baltimore, Annapolis, New York City, Richmond, Charlottesville, Charlotte, and Philadelphia. Follow and Like “The 9″ at www.twitter.com/wearethe9 and www.facebook.com/wearethe9. Watch the promo video by visiting www.wearethe9.com” (https://www.facebook.com/wearethe9/info).
*As with all live events, please check local listings in advance; schedules are subject to change. Also, check the calendar at 49 West for additional events.
CDs due out soon:
Welcome home to those who trekked to Austin for SXSW2013.
Thanks much to those who stayed home from SXSW2013 to tend the home fires. We greatly appreciate it.
Congratulations to Sweet Leda on their two 2013 Tri-State Indie Awards: GROUPIES CHOICE and MARYLAND/DC INDIE BAND OF THE YEAR.
Looking forward to the big gypsy junket, DNL’s Jam at the Dam, in Weatherly, PA on July 6th. Get your tickets early and plan to have a great time!
by Jeni Paris Brady