Marybeth DeSarle, Marianne Flemming, Marie Nofsinger and Paul Bellantoni
Chrystal Hartigan Presents the Songwriters Showcase – 07/09/12
The Broward Center For The Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Better than sex. Yup! Better than hot, juicy sex. That’s what it was like last night when Chrystal Hartigan Presents (www.ChrystalHartiganPresents.com and www.facebook.com/ChrystalHartigan) hosted the second Monday of each month’s Songwriter’s Showcase at the Broward Center For The Performing Arts in downtown Fort Lauderdale. It’s not just that it was a mesmerizing evening of original music by mavericks and muses with featured performers Marybeth DeSarle (a.k.a. Sista Marybeth – www.reverbnation.com/SistaMarybeth), Marianne Flemming (www.MarianneFlemmingMusic.com), Marie Nofsinger (www.facebook.com/MarieNofsinger), and Paul Bellantoni (www.reverbnation.com/PaulBellantoni), but even the open mic portion of the show was – to put it not too delicately – orgasmic.
The evening’s foreplay began promptly at 7:30 pm with the open mic and twenty-two incredibly talented performers from Florida and around the globe taking to the stage. And here I must pause to relay my own very personal experience that evening (this is the part where you may want to have your children leave the room). Earlier that night, around 4:00 pm, I just finished writing a song called “Why Do I” (http://youtu.be/w0reKXfQGFY) and I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, self, wouldn’t this sound great with a violinist?” Of course, self didn’t have much to say, so I hustled on down to the Broward Center, signed in and plopped myself down at a table. Lo and behold, I looked to my left and what do I see? A beautifully dressed woman with a violin case. Suddenly, self says to me, “Well, what are you waiting for?” So, I go over, introduce myself and I, explaining how I had just wrote this song, and how it would sound so good with a violin accompaniment. Next thing, with about ten minutes to show time, we’re rehearsing in the hallway and wouldn’t you know it, sixteen beats and four bars into the thing she’s wailing away like she’d written it. It was amazing, beautiful and thrilling all at the same time. Fifteen minutes later, we’re up on stage during the open-mic wowing the audience, and then she stays up after that to play her original solo piece: Oriental Funk. The audience was spell bound. Let me tell you this, she was superb. And why shouldn’t she be. This woman was none other than international touring artist Jamilya Serkebaeva (www.facebook.com/Jamilya.Serkebaeva), Kazakhstan’s own Jean-Luc Ponty.
And that’s not all. In addition to Jamilya, the open mic was chock full of mind-blowing talent, like Robert Bidney (www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5dMf4c3po4) who played “A Pill For Poverty,” Hunter Altschul (www.facebook.com/HunterAltschulMusic) performing “It’s Love,” L.A. producer James McVay playing mandolin backup for Steve Minotti (www.reverbnation.com/SteveMinotti) on Steve’s soon to be released “I Jumped The Gun” (cd review pending), James McVay (www.JamesMcVay.com) soloing on an amazing slide lap-guitar version of his song with no name (no kidding, he said he hadn’t named it yet), newcomer Lani Nash (www.LaniNash.com) raising the roof with “So Far, So Good” (cd review pending), and Rob Wcislo (www.reverbnation.com/BodhiMusic) bringing it all home with “Just Outside” (cd review pending). I gotta tell you, after all that, I wasn’t sure where I was gonna find the energy for round two.
But bring it on! The evening’s climactic finale was, of course, the featured artists portion of the show. Now first off, I gotta apologize to Marie Nofsinger, because I spent seventeen years of my past life hanging out at Luna Star Café (www.LunaStarCafe.com) and I somehow managed to miss every one of her shows there. So, Mia Culpa (or Mia Marie), I made up for that last night. Marie was third guitarist in line during this songwriters in-the-round showcase, preceded by Sista Marybeth and Marianne Flemming, and followed by the only keyboardist in the group: Paul Bellantoni. The Sista kicked it all off with “She’s The Girl,” an ode to the one who snags the ex you still kinda like. Marianne then launched into “Earnest is Blossoming,” a calypsodic adventure into the mindset of a unfriendly coworker. Then came Marie, with a slinky pistol-packing, Mae West like version of “Money Tree,” a day-dream we all wish would come true. Paul then finished round one (of round two) with his “Shove,” a composition of steam rolling, roller coaster, cascading keyboards and energized vocals. Through three more rounds, each of these featured artists captivated the audience with their song writing, singing and playing styles. My personal favorites of the evening were Sista’s “Reach Up,” a post empty-nest theme song for anyone wanting to find out what I can do now that I’ve done, Marianne’s “Small Hope Bay” lullaby where Teddy Bears windsurf inside a silhouette of sand with outstretched arms, Marie’s “Monk’s Prayer” about a city located in Lorida, USA, that’s too poor to buy another F to put in front of it’s state’s name on the town ’s sign, and Paul’s “No Hard Feelings,” where the party’s over, but you still want to take this wreck of a relationship out for a ride. Wow, I’m exhausted just writing about this.
Oh, and did I mention the great guitar art by George Desiderio (www.NextBrandsGroup.com) that was on display that night. Think of it like wall art you can hang your guitar on – literally. You can find this and other outstanding artwork at Jeffrey D’s A1A Guitars and Art (233 N Federal Hwy, #53, Dania Beach, FL 33004, 954-925-7190, www.A1AGuitarsAndArt.com). In addition to having one of the best guitar stores for new and customized Taylor, Martin and Emerald (graphite) guitars, Jeff is a long-time supporter and sponsor of Chrystal Hartigan’s Songwriter’s Showcase, and he always has some fun things to raffle off during the intermission at each show. Check him out.
So there you have it. Foreplay, climax, and more incredible music and art than you could possibly fit into a few hours on a Monday night. And remember, it’s the second Monday of every month, starting at 7:30 pm. But don’t worry, even though your ears might fall off from all the great sounds you’ll be listening too, in the immortal words of Joe Cocker, you can leave your hat on.