It was a two-goddess dance floor at the beginning of the show. The funk emanating from the stage lifted them from their seats, and their impromptu dancing shifted their bodies into the realm of the beautiful. The other twenty or thirty guests sat or milled about, so the dancers had plenty of room to stand a few feet apart and check each other out. The Goodfoot Lounge proved true the aphorism, “Where there is funk music, there is booty-shaking.”
The host and MC, Scott Pemberton, ran around organizing the event and playing pinball all night. He’s there every Monday out of a desire to see local music flourish.
Many of the acts at The Goodfoot this week were quiet combinations of guitars, keyboards and vocals that lulled the room’s ears into a state of relaxation rather than reveling. When one man played guitar and sang bossa novas, the room took on the feel of a sidewalk caf퀌�; everything seemed to bask in a sunlight that wasn’t really there.
Pemberton helped to ensure that the dance-music quota was met by organizing open jams. Next to the sign-up notebook, there was a sheet of paper with a handwritten message: “If you are an instrumentalist who wants to jam, please sign up on this sheet – I will put together pick-up bands for slots throughout the night.”
Some choice names that I copied out of the sign up book: rip (of Portland Swing fame), David Also, Instrumental Jam Pick-Up Band, Christopher (under the sheet prompt “style” he wrote, “Brazil”), Facho, Monkey Puzzle Trio with Tomo2 (with a “needs drums” scrawled and circled after it) and Lance Grider.
There were performers who lacked divine blood, but the players at open mics don’t get paid so the only incentive to perform is the love of the art. Thus, the good intentions and sincerity of the less engaging acts make their music comfortable listening.
One point of disconnect between the audience and performers occurred when a singer looked up from her xylophone and smiled at the audience, who then understood and applauded.
On the performers
Gorbachev’s Forehead had two guitar players and a keyboardist. The guitarists are a coed couple whose female half doubles on xylophone. The keyboardist played and sang a few songs by herself to close their slot. Her voice was charming, and the room took on the feel of the hotel bar where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson met in “Lost In Translation” – ashes grew long on cigarettes and service industry noises became audible along with the chatter of cordial singles.
The pick-up band (several musicians sans bands that joined together to make one), sounded hot. After a few onstage minutes of chatting, tuning and noodling, the instrumentalists, who had not all met each other prior to the jam, dove into a comfortable groove. A tenor sax and an organ floated above a laid-back beat, and the music began to sizzle as it sank deeper into its pocket.
Two girls lifted themselves off their bar stools and danced. The players revealed their true natures as gutsy, talented individuals by playing rockin’ solos with comfortable sincerity and good, clean fun.
The ubiquitous Pemberton played bass. Later on that night, he played organ in a rock power trio (who combined country and blues sensitivities in a post-rock rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s anthemic “Voodoo Chile”).
Pemberton also plays guitar at the Goodfoot every Thursday night with Triclops, his organ trio. The club’s organ might be old, but it still gets plenty of lovin’.
When the two dancers sat back down, the room took on the feel of a coffee shop. In fact, most of the musicless gaps between performers were filled with relaxed conversations. But I defy you to show me the coffee shop with such a congregation of musicians (and audience members prone to breakdancing to reggae). Brace yourself for my musician’s disclaimer: No matter how engaging the sounds are (or are not), words cannot contain music. So if you really want to know, go listen.