The Scene – May 22nd, Finish the Night Right at The City Cafe

Downtown at The City Cafe

Downtown at The City Cafe

Heather Rose and The Drama were setting the stage at the Blackstone as Tim and I made our way out, discussing the sets from Sex Slaves and For the Love of Sloane. We piled back into my car and started heading toward downtown, on the journey we experienced what I could only describe as a Rhode Island moment. Driving along the river we saw a pimped out caddie convertible blasting some tunes, Tim and I both said “Someone’s out cruisin’ for the ladies.” Pulling up to the caddie we both wanted to examine who was enjoying the fine night out cruising, and burst nearly burst into tears laughing as we noticed it was my friend Jeff George. We rolled down the passenger window and started a cat call to garner his attention, it was only after about the third “Jeff George is a PIMP” we yelled that he noticed us over the blaring FEDD HILL cd. Busting some chops and alone on the road we waited through the next light chatting trying to get him to tag along to the City Cafe to no avail, Jeff was on a mission for the evening, and the City Cafe was not on the agenda.

As we were pulling up on Dorrance Street, I knew Kyle Nicolas was scheduled to play for the evening, but was unsure who, if anyone, else was playing. Tim and I were both pleasantly surprised to hear Jose Docen performing as we approached, and spotted Zig Zag at the bar. As we said our greetings we ordered a few beverages. I realized the Cafe was loud and crowded that night, so I sat on the couch next to the stage to get a few song clips, using his acoustic guitar as a percussion instrument between strums Jose rounded out a song:

05.22.09 Jose Docen clip

The City Cafe always has a good laid back scene, but unfortunately does not have the best lighting or acoustics for my purposes. You’ll be able to get the general idea and feel from the clips, but won’t be able to see some of the finer bits of the performances. During Jose’s next number, Kyle went to the stage to lend a hand, adjusting the amp and mic stand he made it easier for Jose to sing and play making sure both were heard appropriately:

05.22.09 Jose Docen Original Song1

Showcasing his unique soulful vocals and guitar style Jose had me shaking my touch on the couch. I suspect he usually plays in dropped or open D as his guitar tones always seem so much lower than most other acoustic performers. Jose moved to his final number of the night “Cooh Kooh Bird:”

05.22.09 Jose Docen “Cooh Kooh Bird”

He took the opportunity to promote his myspace page before belting out the song with the passion I’ve come to expect from Jose, it was a great moving song. I was again very interested in his strum to pluck to percussion on the guitar, helping to give the song a bit of a beat during the choruses. He thanked the audience before handing the stage to Zig Zag, who played two of his own selections between these sets of Jose and Kyle. He started at the mic with shout outs for Jose and Kyle, making sure to get the Cafe’s attention a bit more before breaking into a song I’ve herd him working on at his apartment “Not Enough (A Little Too Late):”

05.22.09 Zig Zag “Not Enough (A Little Too Late)”

Certainly a song with which I can empathize from my single days, it highlights approaching a woman at the bar who may or may not be out of your league. Heartfelt with a touch of humor he performed it well giving it more power in the vocals than I’d previously heard. Choosing another of his originals he chose one I had yet to hear “Drag Your Feet:”

05.22.09 Zig Zag “Drag Your Feet”

Jose Docen

Jose Docen

Kyle Nicholas at The City Cafe

Kyle Nicholas at The City Cafe

Another great song with which many a man can empathize both, taking the song either literally or figuratively. Taking a quick bow, so to speak, he handed the stage over to Kyle Nicholas again, who must have been in a reggae mood. At the City Cafe, performers split the night and sets differently than most other venues, rather than playing their entire allotted time they play half sets. For example Jose Docen and Kyle Nicholas were the billed performers, each played two 45 minute sets alternating, allowing for both the early and late crowds to catch a bit of each performer’s set. Apparently during Kyle’s first set he played a lot of his originals and closed the set with a Sublime cover. The crowd, paying more attention to songs with which they are familiar (something at times I’ve found myself guilty as well) sang along and really got into the cover. Playing to the desires of the crowd, his second set was rife with exciting solo interpretations of reggae and Sublime classics. Starting out he played a medley of classic reggae tunes “54-46, What’s My Number” and “Trenchtown Rock,” the crowd was intimately familiar with the songs, no doubt through Sublime’s re-popularization of the genre in the 1990s. The crowd was loving it, singing along and paying less attention to their own conversations than the performance at this point. Certainly a fact I enjoyed, I just wish the same attention and reverence came from one’s original songs as well. Kyle noticed the crowd’s enthusiasm and stuck in a Sublime mode for most of his second set, he chose “Saw Red” as his next piece:

05.22.09 Kyle Nicholas covering “Saw Red”

The crowd provided backing vocals for Kyle’s version, complete with his rhythmic guitar and vocal style. Choosing “Garden Grove” as his next cover, the crowd continued to participate, and Kyle lent his own personality to the song:

05.22.09 Kyle Nicholas covering “Garden Grove”

Continuing the Sublime motif, he played a great version of “Badfish” next, during which I received the “should have bought a backup battery” light:

05.22.09 Kyle Nicholas covering “Badfish”

Zig Zag cheering on his Boys

Zig Zag cheering on his Boys

I kicked myself, and vowed to procure an additional battery for my future concert going efforts. Kyle asked the crowd what they wanted to hear next, I shouted “An Original” and he obliged playing a great solo acoustic version of “Break Away,” a song usually performed with Innocent Uprising. The evening was coming to a close and he chose another cover song to wind down the night, the Police’s “Can’t Stand Loosing You.” I’d heard Sting and the Police described as a reggae-esque band before, but Kyle’s interpretation really helped drive the point home.

Throughout two venues it was a great night of music, tired from the adventure but not quite out for the night, I rounded up Tim and some others and we all headed back to Zig Zag’s place for a nightcap, after all the PA system had to make it home somehow.

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  1. […] radio if they come on, but I certainly don’t own any Police CDs. Yet, in the same week, both Kyle Nicholas and Eric French chose to cover the same Police song, though Eric French & Mr. Hyde played a […]