BECCA MARX: Hoot Report from Harriet Brewing, May 28, 2015
People say there’s a magical quality about the Mad Ripple Hootenanny. If I had to choose one word to express the essence of the Hoot, it’d be: SPONTANEITY. I often find myself giving the venue a quick 360 degrees, and I’ve never been disappointed in my observations.
It might be First Ave’s Steve McClellan sitting at a picnic table, or Strib music critic/supporter Chris Reimenschneider hanging out. Last night, I was tickled at the joyful enthusiasm that the young son of Ananda Bates exuded. Connoisseur of spontaneity himself: Hoot host/musician Jim Walsh encourages the Hoot participants to take a leap into the unknown and perform the untried or unproven. That spirit has created an acceptance and a celebration of the courage that it takes to embrace the fear of forgotten lyrics and missed chords.
Chanteuse Natalie Lovejoy was emboldened, she’d even Facebook-pondered if she should play it safe, or play a new song? Luckily for the audience, Lovejoy did both. She stole our hearts with her performance of the brand new song, “I Still Want You,” a piano ballad with lyrics that captured a vulnerable honesty. It was a real heart-on-sleeve moment. Not every artist is open to, able to, or prepared to share in that way. Lovejoy admitted feeling quite sentimental about the Hoot, and dedicated her wistful version of “Wish I Was the Moon” by Neko Case to Walsh.
Miss Becky Kapell spent her birthday for the second time in as many years performing at the Hoot. Kapell’s vocal style is suggestive of country crooner Tammy Wynette. She performed the longing track, “Be the Man,” from her celebrated debut album, “For Now.” Kapell, in the spirit of taking a gamble, played a song that she claims she’ll never record: “Cussing Song” was an instant audience favorite and in the spirit of togetherness, the crowd joined in on the curse-filled chorus.
A legend of local music, and gifted artist with a talent for amusing wordplay, Joe Fahey sang an unreleased tongue-in-cheek original. “Snug as a Bug in a Rug” was topical, poking fun at our entitlement, complete with references to yoga (pants), acupuncture and aromatherapy. Fahey went on to totally charm the audience with his NPR Car Talk hit, “I Could Not Steal Her Heart (So I Stole Her Car),” from his 2011 release, “Bushnell’s Turtle.” The rock-and-roll friendly topic of cars led to Lovejoy singing her raucous, “Demolition Derby Queen,” in response.
In dedication to the birthday girl Becky Kapell, Jon Rodine sang publicly for the first time, a risky-not family friendly song called, “Taxi Drive.” To change it up, Rodine played the moving, “It’s Not the Spotlight,” a song originally sang by Carole King, but written by her husband Gerry Goffin. Rodine contributed his a cappella version of the song to the benefit CD, “VOICE: Songs For Those Who Are Silenced,” in support of a campaign to end child sex trafficking in Minnesota.
Never one to be predictable, Jim Walsh invited his brother, Terry Walsh, onstage. Terry Walsh can really sing, and I’m referring to his guitar skills as much as I am to his voice. He played his Belfast Cowboy’s tune, “Looking for the Northern Lights,” from the recently released album, “The Upside to the Downslide.” In a twist of fate, Doug Collins who’d been an innocent audience member became Hoot participant with his original track “Song About a Train,” which closed the night along with a singalong of “Happy Birthday” for Miss Becky.
Ah, the magic of the Mad Ripple Hootenanny, it’s all about putting yourself out there. Forget the fear and show up! You may want to bring a song-just in case…
Becca Marx is a St. Paul-based freelance writer and critic and staff reporter for Rift Magazine.