the branch of medicine and physiology concerned with the function and disorders of the urinary system.
When I caught wind of this show, a small acoustic set in a quiet little Polish-dominated neighborhood in Queens known as Ridgewood, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that the show featured vegetarian chili, mulled bourbon cider and two of my favorite up-and-coming Michigan-bred singer-songwriters, Charlene Kaye and Matt Jones. The venue, billed as the Caponegro Urological Associates, gave me nothing beyond a simple wordpress site billing the show to go by, and so my expectations were correspondingly vague. Was this actually a doctor’s office? How does the smell of hipsters mingle with that of formaldehyde and ether? Would they be able to help me with this uncomfortable burning sensation while I was there?
Surprisingly, at first to my chagrin but quickly dissolving into ecstatic jubilation, when we walked in to the Caponegro offices they turned out to be no doctors’ offices at all, but rather the aforementioned converted into a lovely little apartment. Arriving a little late, we encountered many a 20-something sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor, sipping on cider and enjoying an amplification-less acoustic performance from Charlene. The walls were adorned with a mixture of Ridgewood history and Michigan imagery, and I suddenly realized that I had walked into a good old-fashioned house show, just the performers, the audience, libations and food.
Upon further investigation, we soon realized that much of the furnishings were left-over from the actual Urology offices; old, white, metal cabinets filled with old-timey, Queens-centric trinkets, black-and-white illustrations of vistas and buildings from days of yore, complete with a couple boxes of unused catheters. Venturing into the kitchen, Urology and Queens quickly gave way to Michigan-centric adornments: historical maps, license plates, catch phrases (“Ypsilanti, a cool city!”) and the like. Bubbling on the stove were pots filled with cider and chili, and on the counters lay the whiskey, a growler full of Carlo Rossi sangria, a couple cans of PBR and, the crowning surprise, a beautiful pastel blue and white ice cream cake. All of a sudden I felt like I was back in the Mitten, hanging out at some friend’s house with other friends listening to more friends’ music. But all we had to do was hop on the M train! How fantastic!
Charlene’s performance was a wonderful little slice of beauty. As she strummed through many songs both old and new, covered and original, Charlene’s angelic voice soared over the small room, through the ears of all the youngsters who managed to find their way here, infecting them all with a sense of peace, love and tranquility that one can only find in such an intimate setting. At one point, Charlene remarked at how great it is to play shows like this, as compared to the bigger venues that have come along with her rising status in the music world, and I couldn’t agree more. Accompanying Charlene was the lovely Megan Cox on violin and melodica, effortlessly producing beautiful harmonies and counter-melodies to support Charlene’s songs. Even though I missed the first part of her performance, hearing Charlene after such a long personal hiatus (How long as it been? Four years?) in such an intimate setting caused my skin to tingle and my heart to soar. How wonderful!
After a short break to refill glasses, grab some grub and take advantage of the aptly-labeled “lavatory,” Ypsilanti’s own Matt Jones took the stage, flanked by the amazingly-talented Colette Alexander on cello and the gifted Misty Lyn, providing stunning vocal harmonies. Off the heels of Charlene’s set, Matt’s performance brought a surprising amount of energy into the room for an acoustic performance, largely thanks to Colette’s highly-emotive chopping motions on her instrument. After only a couple songs, Matt and his crew got the audience clapping, stomping and humming along. Maybe the cider and sangria had kicked in, but when shows are this intimate, the energy of the performer and that of the audience basically become one, and Matt’s energy was obviously exciting. We were getting into it so much that, after a fair but unsatisfying number of songs there came a loud banging on the pipes… apparently the neighbors were not amused. The decision was made to cut the performance short, but apparently not short enough for the folks upstairs, because as we were leaving the 5-0 had pulled up and were questioning our lovely hosts at Caponegro. I didn’t stay to see the outcome, but the small party—little more than 20 people were in attendance—was basically over anyways, so I’m sure those cops were lenient enough.
In the end, I was extremely glad to have made the trek up to Ridgewood for this little show. The chance to catch up with old friends and listen to some heartfelt and sincere music from some seriously talented musicians was enough to satisfy my craving, but the unexpected meeting of fellow Michiganders and the familiar decor on the walls provided an amazing sense of comfort and belonging, and even if it was just for a couple of hours, my longing for the Mitten was gone and I felt like I had come home. Thank you, Caponegro, I look forward to any more chances you may be able to offer to hang in your humble abode.
Charlene Kaye Official Website
Matt Jones on Myspace