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The instant that I picked up the phone I knew I was in trouble. “Go out on a Monday?” I barked into the receiver. “What, are you crazy? It’s a school night!” The caller was gal pal Jamee Schleifer and the reason for her inquiry was simple. Husband Michael and son Gabriel were planning to attend open-mic night at Dutch’s (like ‘em on Facebook!) in Rock Hill, NY and perform some new material. “They’ve been rehearsing and everything,” Jamee said, to which I responded with a laugh. “I should hope so,” I shot back. Rehearsing is always a good thing.
Truth be told, I hadn’t been to Dutch’s since last Christmas, when I took Dharma to see Santa, and the cozy, comfy “everybody-knows-your-name” atmosphere of the place always puts a smile on my face. “Oh, OK,” I said. “As long as we aren’t out too late. I suppose the dog has something appropriate to wear.” “I’m sure she does,” Jamee concurred. “Let’s make a night of it and have supper while we’re there.” Besides it being a “school night,” I can usually be found still working on my column on Monday evening, because I procrastinate quite well (by then it’s already overdue), and there are days when, well… let’s just say I’m late. Therefore, I was forced to put “pedal to the metal” and pour over the photographs, make some decisions and then actually write words to go with the pictures. Yeah, it’s a pretty glamorous job.
One of the joys of life in the Catskills is the abundance of talent ‘round every bend, and ever since Richie Havens sang “With a Little Help from my Friends” on Friday, August 15, 1969 on a dairy farm in Bethel, NY, musicians have flocked to the region, hoping to make a little magic themselves. As a result, the Upper Delaware River region is home to many artists of varied abilities, and what’s nice about a good open mic is that anything can happen, even a bit of “Lightening in a Bottle”—rare, to be sure,but not quite impossible. Such was the case last Monday, when the Schliefers and I strode through the doors of Dutch’s as people pointed at my dog and waved. “Ladies and gentlemen,” the always delightful MC Antoine Magliano announced to the crowd, “give it up for Bryan Gordon!” Casting an eye toward the performer making his way to the stage, I remarked on the fact that he did not look familiar. “He plays a lot in Orange County,” Michael shouted in my ear. “You’re gonna like this,” he promised.
Whipping out my trusty smart phone, I Googled Gordon and quickly scanned his website, where I learned that Bryan had been “writing and performing music on the East Coast for over 30 years” and had been on a European tour in 2016. “His stories of life’s everyday struggles,” I read, “draw from various genres to create a blend of hook-laden rock/folk that is uniquely his own.” It’s likely that Gordon himself wrote those words, so not surprising that there were no direct quotes as to the prowess of the singer, but man, oh man—is he good. Powerful, crazy-good vocals, paired with some serious guitar skills instantly elevate Gordon (IMHO) above (simple yet enjoyable) open-mic night to main stage arenas just waiting to present. The guy was amazing (just as Schleifer promised), and I wanted to hear more. “Thanks, man. That’s cool,” Gordon replied when I stopped him to say so as he stepped off stage, making room for songstress extraordinaire Joanna Gass, who can be heard weekly down the road from Dutch’s at The Brew in Rock Hill.
Heading back to my table with Gordon’s newest CD in hand (the perks to my job are awesome), I spied two wrapped gifts perched on my chair. “Happy Hanukkah!” the Schleifers said in unison. “Hope it fits,” Jamee said, grinning with anticipation. “Uh oh,” I thought. “Is there an ugly sweater in my future?” But as I tore into the paper (with help from the dog) I discovered that I was about to cause even more people to shake their heads and whisper as I passed them in the streets. Matching plaid pajamas for me—and my dog. Uh huh. A masterpiece of marketing, (www.fabdog.com) the red, white and blue flannel PJ’s are practical (I’m sure) but hysterical (on a dog), and I have never seen Dharma look so darn cute. “Oh this is a holiday card in the making!” I shouted to the amazing Amanda Reed (who designs award-winning graphics for The River Reporter). “Oh, fine,” Amanda groaned. “Send it to me—I’ll see what I can do. But you’re gonna have to sing for your supper,” she warned. “I’ll put it on your tab.”