One of my favorite haunts is the Fox Coffee House. Not only is the Fox conveniently placed within easy walking distance from home, but it also plays host to not one, but two open mic events each week. On Thursday nights there is a pure open mic from 7-9 or 9:30. On most Saturdays the mic is open from 6-7, and then at 7 there is featured act with a full 50 minute set. The open mic then resumes from 8 until closing.
The Fox Open Mic is the love child of Sean Gallagher. Sean is the father of Mary Gallagher, proprietor of the coffee house, and his event for almost two years now has provided a safe and nurturing environment for anyone seeking to find their voice and develop their talents. Performers of all ages will show up once, start coming back, and many eventually graduate to the main stage as featured performers; it is always a red-letter day when that occurs. Back in September I wrote about a breakout performance by young Deja Nichole, and since then Deja has caught a wave and is now playing at venues all around Los Angeles. While I was happy to see Deja in the crowd, she was there not as the featured performer but in support of another graduate of the Fox talent machine, Edward Lopez.
Edward, or Eddie, has been coming to the Fox for about a year, and has developed from a somewhat shy and withdrawn young man into a confident and outgoing performer. He performs as The Hildreth Avenue, and I believe that this was his third time as the featured act. I didn’t see his first time, but I did see the second, and it was a bit of a disappointment. I only knew him at that time as a kind of a darkly shrouded young man who was usually there and often called into service as a collaborator for other artists, a role that he did exceptionally well. In the last performance I saw Eddie seemed unprepared, and very conscious of that fact; he wound up doing a greatly abbreviated set, which was a shame given that the room was full of other artists who only needed a nod to come to his assistance.
Eddie has learned his lesson well, and he delivered a fully-featured fifty minute solo set of mostly original songs to an audience emanating a tangible sense of love and support. I was trying to come up with an analog for Eddie’s voice, and was almost ready to give him a “defies comparison” label, when another audience member compared him to Kat Stevens, a comparison that has considerable validity. He does a great job of supporting his singing with his guitar playing, and vice-versa. Eddie wears his heart on his sleeve, and then he transcribes it into song–you can trace the arc of his life by following his lyrics. His performance on Saturday was mesmerizing, and he has redeemed himself big time–Eddie is ready to roll!
Eddie wasn’t the only highlight of the night as the room was filled with outstanding talent. Some of the highlights were the performances by Jon and Ren of When the Ocean Kisses the Sand, Ishmael and his typically comical interplay with Sean, and a performance by Deja Nichole. One of the highlights from Deja’s birthday performance was a duet that she did with Eddie, and I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t have her up to sing a song with him in his set, but any disappointment quickly evaporated once I got to hear her sing again. Plus I got to meet both her mother and her grandmother, a wonderful pair of beautiful ladies!
Last up was a very intriguing performance by an adorable young lady who showed up late with an acoustic guitar and a retinue of other young lovelies. She gave her name as Danii Smith, from Colombia, and was completely unfazed when feedback problems kept her from using a miked acoustic guitar. “Can I play the electric?”, she asked, eying Rodney‘s electric guitar. Given an affirmative, she proceeded to play a very nice jazzy set of three songs with a great voice and very proficient self-accompaniment.