Tim Farrell, ScatterGrass, and Stewart Lewis
Chrystal Hartigan’s Songwriters Showcase – 03/12/12
Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale
In a world where all good things come in three’s, at the top of that list you’d have to place open mics, songwriters showcases, and Chrystal Hartigan (www.chrystalhartiganpresents.com and www.facebook.com/chrystalhartigan). Not only is this because Chrystal puts on a great open mic and a great songwriters showcase, it’s that she does it in an amazing place: the Abdo Room of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. This palatial evening is reflected in the who’s who list of our acoustic community that regularly attend as audience, including such luminaries as Alexis Sanfield, the owner of Luna Star Café (www.lunastarcafe.com), Steve Minotti, open mic host at Kevros Art Bar (www.kevroart.com), and Louis Davis, promoter of the Sailboat Bend Artist’s Colony Concert Series (www.sailboatbendartists.com).
But the main stage at Chrystal’s second Monday of the month event always goes to the performing artists. The first half of each evening is an open mic that begins at 7:30 p.m. and is of the shotgun variety, because just like in a shotgun wedding, at a shotgun open mic you get one chance to do it right. Now one song might seem a bit little for an open mic, but remember, this isn’t a café or bar we’re talking about here. This is the Abdo Room at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Fort Lauderdale. And you’re not just performing for your friends and the locals. You’re on a professionally arranged stage with an incredible sound system to match, and your playing to venue owners, promoters and producers. So for anyone with an original hit up their sleeves, one song at Chrystal’s is like getting a sold out show anywhere else. And who knows what that might lead to, including the possibility of being a featured performer at Chrystal’s. Just ask Hunter Altschul (www.reverbnation.com/hunteraltschul) who is one of the featured songwriters there next month.
Now being a featured songwriter at Chrystal’s is a real treat in the Southeast Florida music world for both the performer and the audience, for this part of the show is graced by both local, national and international artists. The showcase portion begins around 9:00 p.m., and last night’s featured artists included acoustic finger stylist Tim Farrell (www.timfarrellmusic.com), the bluegrass duo ScatterGrass (www.facebook.com/scattergrass), and national recording artist Stewart Lewis (www.stewartlewis.com). Now I’ll be reviewing Tim Farrell’s show this coming Friday at the River of Grass Café (www.riverofgrass.org), but what can I say about a guy who has already shared a stage with four of my all time favorites: Les Paul, George Benson, Jean Luc Ponty and Rick Wakeman. As for Scattergrass, you’re never quite sure if it’s Paul Briggs’ beautifully tremoloed voice, Fritz Kraemer’s finger blistering mandolin playing, or the audience’s foot tapping that’s driving the music faster and faster. And author of two books with a third on the way, and having recorded for both television and film, Stewart Lewis does not mince words when he sings of losing, finding or keeping love. You could not ask for more in an evening of acoustic majesty.
So remember, there once were two Crystal Palaces. One at Hyde Park (1851), and one atop Sydenham Hill in Penge (1854-1936). But in a world where all good things come in three’s, we now have one of our own. Welcome to Chrystal’s Palace.