Open Mic review by Roger-Z (01/15/08)
Appeared in More Sugar, February 2008, P. 16B
Someone's got to mentor the next generation of musicians. And Pete Hop's just the man to do it.
"My goal for the open mic is to create a 'scene' for some up and coming, talented singers, songwriters, and musicians.
I encourage originals, but I also want it to be a place where good players can come together to jam on whatever they
feel like for the love of music. Most cover players, including myself, enjoy some songs outside of the top 40,
classic rock, mainstream thing. I wanted it to be a place for that as well. That being said, there are times where we
just sit and play Beatles or Stones songs too. I would like to see some more diversity in the way of styles -- some
bluegrass, jazz, and others. I believe in The Duke's philosophy. 'There are two types of music, good and bad.'"
"I try and keep the atmosphere loose and friendly. Some really good players drop in who've worked with some of the
greats. They don't have attitudes. Why should anyone else? I have had to confront a few people on that account.
After all, I'm not making much money here, so if it isn't fun for me, I do my best to correct that and keep it fun
The modus-operandi: Mr. Hop starts the night with a set of five or so originals, playing amplified acoustic guitar and occasionally
accompanying himself on harmonica. The night I dropped by, he played "It's a Wonderful Life," "Mountain," "Another Sunny Day," "Heartbreaker,"
and "Moving On." I over heard one patron describe Hop's music as a cross between Dylan and Graham Parker.
Not too shabby. Hop, operating with a signup sheet, brings up the musicians (solo, duos, and trios) in the order
they came into the bar. No favoritism here. Depending on the volume of jammers, each set consists of three to four songs.
What impressed me most were the fifteen non-players who hung out just to hear good music. One of them, Joe Vedovino, told me he used to live in
Manhattan. For five years, he spent every Friday night at the legendary Manny's Carwash. He feels the same vibe
each Monday at Lucy's.
Crowd favorite, singer-songwriter Robert Salter, says "I like Petey's jam for a
bunch of reasons. He's a great host who makes sure everybody gets set up just right with good sound for their guitar
and vocals. There's a fun mix of performers from Grammy nominees and polished professionals to brave young
singer-songwriters stepping up for the first time. And of course Lucy's is a very nice spot, an elegant lounge that's
also a cozy and comfy neighborhood place."
Mishti, who mesmerized the club with her stellar vocals, had this to say.
"I am always amazed at the level of talent at Petey's Jam. There are some amazing solid songwriters who come and
play which is inspiring as an audience member and musician. They are all incredibly supportive of each other as well
which is rare. Often at jams, people will just come to play their set and then tune out -- and this is not true of
Petey's jam. People really care about music and I think he's done a fantastic job of creating a safe and vibrant space
for artists and music-lovers alike."
"Petey encourages people to play originals and try new things and is always attentive to each musician which is great!
It's the only place I've ever tried out my originals. That's because the supportive atmosphere and camaraderie give
me the necessary confidence. (The half bottle of wine also helps!) Also, there are usually impromptu jam
sessions depending on who's there which is great and always unexpected. Petey leads and ends the set which is awesome
because he's both a prolific songwriter and ridiculous guitarist. It's cool to see him in both lights in one night!"
"Another unique thing about the jam is that the bartenders are really supportive of the music
which really promotes a positive vibe all around. You know how if the establishment isn't behind the artist, it really
can reflect on audience turn-out and things like that."
According to Brian Kluepfel, "Rob Catallano behind the bar always livens up the evening and keeps everyone laughing
and well lubricated."
So musicians, shake the dust off that acoustic guitar, practice those licks, and polish those songs. Come down to Lucy's
and let the spotlight shine on you! Here's an incentive. The top musicians will get an exclusive half-hour segment on
the White Plains Cable Access Show, Working Musicians.