I was telling you about my adventure to the Acorn Theater in Michigan and how I met the next big thing Meg Robinson. As usual, it seems that I had forgotten about the time change heading over to Michigan after work. I get off at 5pm, hell it’s an hour away so 7pm is no sweat. I realized this when the map application on the phone changed my arrival time changed to the OH SHIT time zone as in “Oh shit I’m going to miss my time slot”. I got to the theater just in time to check in with the director Sarah. I grabbed a beer to calm the nerves. Two if I’m being perfectly honest. This theater was packed for a songwriter open mic. Oh the glory I thought. With both hands full of brew I notice this guy with a shit eating grin, who himself was holding two cups of beer and I think a glass of wine. I looked at him and thought “Now there’s my kind of guy”. I think I said something like: “What…double fistin not enough?”. He laughed, said his name was Jon. We tried to shake hands but then realized we couldn’t. I ask if he’d ever been to this thing before. He told me that it was their first time. I ask is he is performing he says: “No my little girl is, we don’t know what to do with her. We take her to these singing competitions and talent shows and she keeps winning them. She just wrote her first song this week.” She sings, writes songs and is 12 years old? I can’t wait to see her I said.
I finished my couple songs, packed my gear and headed to the van to check messages and have some tobacco. When I ventured back in I ran into the guest host who opened the show. Laura Joy who is from the Chicago area, is a fine singer and songwriter. Heck of a guitar player as well. You can find Laura Joy stuff here. We had a nice conversation, traded cds and that’s when I heard a young girls voice on the sound system. I stuck my head in and standing on stage in front of 150 people was Little Meg Robinson.
I’ve been calling here “Little” just so you know I’m not talking about the accomplished Harp player of the same name. She starts with her dad’s favorite cover. A Blondie song, kills it. I look in the crowd and see her parents. They are both grinning from ear to ear. Beaming the only way a parent can when their child is doing something extraordinary. Meg then introduces herself again says she just wrote this new song earlier that week and she’d like to play it for the first time.
I’m thinking to myself wow this kid has got some panache! 12 years old and standing in this theater on a fairly large stage with her ukulele in front of a full house. Her timing and stage presence is perfect she sings like a bird…and she’s 12! Here she is singing “Call ME” by Blondie.
See what I mean when I say that she is the next big thing! I have heard a lot of people sing, but this gal has something so pure and natural in her voice it’s just transcending. I’ve stayed in contact with team Robinson and a month or so later I had a house concert at our place and asked Meg if she would like to open for the main act Nick Dittmeier. She agreed and there she was in our living room running a bunch of songs and crushing it as usual. Below is some video of her doing one of her songs called “Silver Spoon”.
Meg will be opening up for me this Saturday at The Blue Island Beer Company.
She hits the stage 6:30ish and will perform a set of select covers and very nicely written originals. Team Robinson just took her to Nashville where she shared the stage at the Bluebird with some past American Idols. Here she comes. Little Meg Robinson. See her now and you can one day say “I saw her when she was just 13”.
A little over a year ago I was hosting the open mic at Bernice’s Tavern. I had been hosting and co-hosting it for the last ten years. One thing about your local open mic is the element of surprise. Once in a great while someone will walk in you’ve never heard or met and simply move you. Walsh is exactly that guy.
Usually an artist will woodshed for a time practicing songs they’ve written and get themselves to a point that they think they should go try them out on someone besides their Aunt Kate. Aunt Kate is totally cool but you can’t meet girls playing your guitar in Aunt Kate’s kitchen. Over time you will see the regular open mic players come in week after week, slowly getting better and like in a year or so they end up getting a band together or basically get good enough they leave the nest and eventually move on to regular gigs of their own. It’s really cool to see the progress.
Now I don’t know alot about Ryan other than he walked in with the shitiest god forsaken guitar I think I’ve ever seen. The whole back end of it was peeled off and was like a diving board. Seems this kid was busking his summers away between college semesters at UIC. Who needs internships when you can breath in the life of a city on the streets. I did the exact same thing when I was going there 15 years previous. This kid had a twinkle in his eye that only the Irish get, That’s all I can say.
The night was just right, It had slowed down enough that the few that were in the bar were listening attentively. Which if you didn’t know, is the best case scenario. Well everyone but one person who was too drunk to know that a young kid that played great and sang like Chet Baker was singing.
I was instantly taken aback. This kid must be like 23 and he plays not good, but very good. Sings not good, but very good and unique as well. I promptly got on the phone with my favorite sound engineer nerd “The Captain” Jaime Gartelos. I told him that there’s a kid in here that we need to record. I figured if his guitar is split down the back and he’s busking on the streets during school breaks he more than likely doesn’t have any recordings. Jaime asked me why I was doing this, and I replied “I have to, he’s a talent.” This kid is in his young 20’s. If I had money and time I’d manage him, be his booking agent and buy him a van to make the rounds in.
He was fluid in the songs he was singing and it would be an optimal time to capture them. I got his number and told him that we needed to record a few of his songs immediately. He said when? How’s tomorrow sound? It took some convincing, I imagine he thought I was nuts.
Here are the four songs we tracked at Jaime’s apartment. He walked in, I handed him my guitar and he knocked out four songs. I think he nailed the first take of each one, I believe we maybe did two takes of each song just in case. Perfect every time. You may want to turn this up a bit as these are unmastered tracks. Enjoy. Ryan will be opening for me this Saturday at Blue Island Beer Co. 7pm. FREE SHOW
Let’s talk about our residency show coming up this Saturday night April 14th at Blue Island Beer Company. We will be playing as a three piece. Myself, Jim Parks on Slide guitar and Michael Dumont on bass. We’ve added a few new songs so we will be doing two sets of music starting at 7pm.
Following our first little set we will be bringing in our guest performers to play a small set. Driving in from my hometown of Rock Falls Il. is a trio that goes by the name Wrong Element. If you read my last post about Rock Falls in 1990 you’ll remember I spoke of the very first people I got a chance to play music with, the Padilla Brothers. Joining them on percussion will be Scott Seally. Scott is a music aficionado, he always knows the hot performers before anyone else and has great taste in music. That taste is heard in the songs he writes. Both he and Tom Padilla are pretty avid songwriters. Saturday they will be performing a stripped down acoustic set of original music. It will not suck.
We will follow their set up with another set of songs (and a few solo pieces from both myself and Jimbo)
We will finish up at 10pm. Just in time to take your glass of Metamucil and watch Murder She Wrote and Madlock that you DVR’D on METV.
I will have the “Suitcase of Broken Dreams” filled with old Additives CDS and maybe a t-shirt or two. I will have a few of these neat residency posters there as well. Donations or beer always accepted. Please give me your email at the show or subscribe to the blog so I can keep you informed about the FREE LP VINYL RECORD I am releasing here in a few months. It combines Switchyard Sessions No.1 and No.2 on to a 180 gram vinyl record. I will be giving 2 away (one for you and one to give to a friend) to anyone who signs up on the list.
If you are looking for a bite before the show might I recommend Giussppe’s Trattoria. A no frills family joint that’s been serving up some pretty kick ass Italian fare at a very good price for over forty years. You may want to phone ahead for seats or you can always get a pie to go and bring it around the corner to the brewery. There is also good Mexican and Cajun food in walking distance.
JOE RIAN’S ADDITIVES 7:00-7:45
WRONG ELEMENT 8:00-8:45
JOE RIAN’S ADDITIVES 9:00-9:45