Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Live @ Central Perk

Arriving at my first ever Dubai Lime music event, having sadly missed the previous night's opening of the regular showcase events that began at the Loft in Lime Theatre, I had little idea of what to expect of an "open mic" event. The term itself suggested a fairly open access, concomitant at least with what hard work had succeeded in facilitating with the powers that be. So inevitably this was not quite "come all ye", but "open microphone" was the term used in the coffee bars of the early 60s New York "folk boom" and the only qualification, aside from the bureaucratic, as far as I could work out, appeared to be the self-confidence to get up there and do it. Of course Greenwich Village this ain't, and initially arriving at a brighter version of Starbucks in the middle of an admittedly almost tasteful Mall (upper Mirdiff), I wasn't exactly full of hope. I knew that the stress for these gigs was on original material played by locally based musicians, and for the most part that was what we ended up getting, which is no small achievement for the singers concerned. And hey, when the covers are as gutsy a version of Knockin on Heaven's Door that an un-named singer and the guitarist Kareem belted out, who's complaining? The acts came fairly thick and fast, all to such a high professonal standard that I found it hard to believe what I was told on the night that none of them perform on a regular basis professionally. I have to say that they all sounded like they do, almost too much so in fact, when a looser feel might have been better. Kareem is an accomplished acoustic guitarist who is apparently aching to play the blues. I think he should. He was followed by 11th Hour, who did immaculate covers; and then two young solo singer-songwriters whose songs, inevitably, showed a debt to contemporary stylists of this oeuvre. This need not prevent strong emotion, and good songwriting, however; and Ramsey Phillips and the guy who followed him (apologies) certainly displayed both. Top marks though has to go the singer-guitarist Jennifer from Canada. I initially found myself going for the inevitable circa 1970s pigeon-holing, and then discarded these thoughts and simply enjoyed the strength of her voice and overall performance. Look forward to more open mic and "Loft" sessions around town like these.

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