February 23rd, 2011
I sit down and play a few bars of Pink Floyd’s “Money” on the acoustic, the bass line really, accented with a few bar chords when I want a little more umph. I sing a few verses and go into the solo where I groove on the chords rather than the solo itself. Alone in my apartment, the volume is filling, and I go into the third verse and out to end the song. It leaves me in a good mood, a mood to hear more acoustic music from people who can sing better then I can. My playing is good enough, but I’m still working on that singing bit, and in the moment, I want a beer and a better voice so I head to the Skylark Cafe for a showcase of singer/songwriters. There’s the mild threat of a snowstorm in Seattle tonight, but sometimes music is more important than safety … OK, all the time. And anyway, I always like the possibility of the undiscovered, the new find.
I get there, and Gina Belliveau is already on the stage, the second of four acts. I make mental apologies to the first guy, but I’d had a few tunes to play on my own and that took precedence. I find a seat at the bar, boot the laptop, and order a Manny’s Pale Ale. Gina finishes her song which had been a quiet non-descript number and then says of the next one, “This is about my crazy neighbor and also about being an introvert.” Interesting how many introverts will get up on stage. I know that feeling, introversion. I write enough, all the time really. I play music too, but I’m not the talker, don’t care to be. Get me in a crowd and I’ll just be, people watch, people listen.
I listen thus to Ms. Belliveau. She plays with her fingers rather than a pick, and is better for it. She strums and plucks notes with her nails, sweeps the strings in bold moments and lightly dances fingers across the neck in the mellow parts. I like it. She’s a solid player. The song is good. When that’s done, she clicks on a pedal on the stage in front of the microphone and starts pounding a rhythm on the body of her acoustic guitar. She goes though a few measures and then clicks the pedal again, and it’s as I figured. She’s looped the rhythm so that it continues. She sways to the beat a few more measures and then comes in with the guitar and the melody essentially accompanying herself. It’s just guitar and a beat. It’s simple but cool. And then with that acoustic guitar beat going on, she layers in a few harmony vocals through a second looping unit. The sound is full. The sound is good. It’s her singing over her, “oh oh oh oh”. I recommend checking her out if you get the chance for she is doing that too, taking a few chances.
Unfortunately, the next guy is the guy we’ve all seen at every acoustic singer/songwriter showcase, the guy in the black tee shirt and baseball cap that plays big open chords and seems to want to sing Poison rock anthems even as he’s singing some mellow tunes to show his softer side. He isn’t without talent as far as playing or singing, but the songs are ordinary. I feel like I’ve heard them all before. Especially one in which he plays a E and then changes to C. He sings over those two chords, and I know it but can’t place it. It goes on, and then he sings, “…No you can’t take it, no you can’t take it, no you can’t take that away from me…” Ah yes. I know. He goes on. “Head like a hole…” It isn’t bad, but there’s no magic, and as he goes into the second verse, that E and the C, I’m reminded of “Exit” by U2. It’s the same actually, the way that he plays it, and my brain gets set.
Sometimes that is true. We can indeed only hear so many notes. The rest we have to make for ourselves. So I pay and leave as another chorus pushes me out of the building, “Head like a hole…”
When I get home, I think, “Gina Belliveau was pretty good. Perhaps I should write something about her.” I pick up the guitar then and open a Shock Top. I give it a good long hit and play those same chords, E and C. It rides though a few times, and then I sing, “You know he caught the cure, you know he went astray, he used to stay awake to drive the dreams he had away, he wanted to believe … in the hands of love…”
As do we all, and with guitar in hand, one certainly does.