Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Community of Song - Palm Loft Gallery First Friday Songwriter's Circle Open Mic - Featuring Paull E. Rubin and Friends - March 4, 2011

Its funny how perspective changes with time! When I started this blog almost two years ago, it was from the perspective of a fan, but relative outsider to the realm of independent music. But with time and my presence at countless shows and the connections this blog has created in its own quiet way, all of a sudden, I find myself being somewhat of an insider. And while I admit, that may cost me a wee bit of objectivity, the payoff in access and insight is well worth that, not even mentioning the richness this adds to my life!

All of the above philosophizing is my convoluted way of introducing the theme of this weekend's entertainment - Community! While many enterprises cause people to develop a sense of community, it seems to me that this is especially so in the realm of independent music. And in the somewhat small and insular area of Santa Barbara County the community feel of the independent music scene is even more apparent. We got a glimpse of this spirit recently when we visited the Palm Loft Gallery in Carpenteria, CA for their First Friday Songwriter's Circle Open Mic Night, which on this occasion featured as headliner Paull E. Rubin and Friends.

This was our second visit to an Open Mic Night at the Palm Loft Gallery. We had visited the previous month, mostly to see the ever-delightful Rebecca Troon, a long-time favorite performer.  Sitting in with Rebecca that evening was a guitarist I had never heard before, one Paull E. Rubin, who played some really tasty guitar and Dobro with like no rehearsal, just winging it and sounding great. We really enjoyed that night, so when I heard that he would be headlining the following month, my calendar was instantly marked!

Like our last visit, we arrived at the Palm Loft Gallery, just up from the beach in Carpenteria, in time to enjoy a marvelous California beach sunset at the early, pre-daylight savings time of 6 pm and just in time for the start of the Open Mic. The Palm Loft Gallery is an art gallery that hosts these events either the first Friday or the Saturday after the first Friday. The format is an hour of open mic by sign up, an hour of the headliner, and then another hour of open mic.  There is a table of appetizer snacks and beverages that  are brought by visitors and the whole thing is FREE! Contributions are accepted to help the headliners defray travel costs.

The gallery and the event are run by a gentleman named Arturo, who is a songwriter himself and performs in the open mic portion. Arturo, as well as most of the other open mic performers and many of the headliners, are participants in a program called Summersongs West, a twice a year workshop for aspiring songwriters, with one camp on the west coast and another on the east coast. I have been hearing a lot of wonderful things about this program for many years and many favorite artists have been on staff there or been campers themselves.  It is very obviously a wonderfully supportive atmosphere for nurturing songwriting and it has a lot to do with sense of community of the independent songwriters up and down the Central Coast of California. One of these days, I'll get to attend myself! And though the performers during the open mic portion of the evening run the gamut from very professional sounding to fairly amateur, they all exhibit the spirit of Summersongs, the openness that comes from that sense of community and they are all warmly received by the audience.

From there we got to the heart of the evening, a set by guitarist/songwriter/vocalist Paull E. Rubin and Friends.  Paull will tell you himself, he really is mainly a band guy and not used to doing solo acoustic stuff, so he was thrilled by the last-minute arrival of his friend and musical compatriot, Marc Mann as well as drummer Ken "Snake" Farmer to help him out. With Marc on guitar and vocals and Paullie switching between guitar and Dobro and singing, with Snake on borrowed house drums and an occasional added background vocal by Lisa Bialec-Jehle,  it certainly was full "band" sound. Paullie and Marc traded songs,  each providing tasty counterpoint to the other's tune. Paull and Marc especially are long-time musical collaborators, playing together as the Bear Bros. and Marc produced and played on Paull's  new CD, Proof, which is a wonderful retro-yet-fresh-sounding album.  So the spirit of musical community  came through loud and clear in their set as well.

Unfortunately, other commitments made us leave after the headlining set and we couldn't stay for the final open mic portion, though as we left there was some discussion if anyone still wanted to perform after such an exhilarating set. But I did stick around long enough to buy us a copy of Paull's previously mentioned CD, "Proof" and get it signed. It was a very fun evening and we left feeling we were a part of a really special musical community!!

Here are links for the Palm Loft Gallery :

and a Facebook page for their Songwriters Circle:!/pages/Palm-Loft-Songwriters-Circle/179322751447?sk=info

and a link for Paull E. Rubin:

and a link for Summersongs:

Photo at top of page blatantly stolen from Paull E. Rubin's Facebook page!!!!!!

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