A recounting of a small cafe in the middle of the desert.....
|On events of Feb 22 2006:
Wednesday evening finds me in much the same spirits as any other day. Another dissatisfying work day is behind me and another will come to greet me tomorrow. A difference tonight is that between those times, I'll have a small straw of freedom and release to grasp at. Tonight is open mike night at the Beatnik Cafe.
First, a little about the venue: The Beatnik cafe is one of the few bastions of independant thought and origionality that exists in the Morongo basin, or in much of this county for that matter. It's clientele is a pleasing mix of regulars and newcomers ranging from hipsters, activists, artists of all sorts, and local music junkies making it a unique experience upon each visit. The beer is cheap, the coffee is strong, and there it is never without an undeniable vibe of creativity that could inspire even the most morose of souls.
Upon our arrival (my girlfriend Ashley was kind enough to let me accompany her) the stage is being set. Ted and Josh are readying the gear and compiling a set box (the clipboard was absent tonight). Familiar faces are greeted and new introductions are made before we settle in for a night of local music and good company. First up is a punk inspired duo called High Hopes. They blister through their two song set with the enthusiasm and vigor of a group who could very well be practicing in some garage or basement with just each other and their visions of grandeur. Later on an older woman takes to the stage with her banjo and boisterously (in a good way) announces that the theme for her set will be drinking songs. Having already had a couple of beers and currently with one in hand, I enthusiastically raise my bottle to this notion. After a couple of songs, most memorable being the one about the nagging influence of wine, she takes her leave to give the next performer their shot at glory.
And so the night goes on. As we continue the cycle of getting drinks and smoking, several acts come and go, each giving a little bit of themselves to our night. One duo comes up to play a Decemberists cover. A visitor from England comes on to play his set. And so the night goes on until I'm going in before Ashley from a smoke break to see Ted Quinn taking the stage. Knowing she won't want to miss this, I quickly go outside to tell her. Ted Quinn runs the soundboard and is for lack of a better term, the center around which local music in this area revolves. After furiously finishing her camel, we go back inside to resume our seats. Ted is without a dought the heart and soul of this night. As he begins his set the room fills with an ambience that suggest whether or not everyone knows it, he's the real reason we came here tonight. After playing three songs, the highlight being the sobering Death of Cool (which he invited Ashley to come up and duet on, she declined sheepishly), the room is aglow.
After Ted comes John Zulu. After meeting this man, it would take a seperate writing to express how intelligent, opinionated, and well traveled this individual is. He begins playing an inspired and lively set and even invites some of the nights previous performers to come and join in on the chorus. After hearing his dramatically delivered criticism of industrial irresponsiblity (Hurts my body and it hurts my soul.....these corporations....who don't give a damn.......bout the situation), Ashley and I are ready to retire for the night. We give our goodbyes and our nice-to-meet-you's and return out the door to our lives. We didn't see everyone we had hoped to see, but I suppose that just leaves more to look forward to when next Wednesday brings us back to open mike night at the Beatnik.