Walnut Street Cafe Open Mic

Posted on September 13, 2010

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“Acoustic Thrash Metal. Words you don’t normally hear together,” MC and native son Don White said as he introduced the musician from Natick to the audience at the Sunday night open mic at the Walnut Street Cafe. The entertainment mix for the night included acoustic, electric, comedy, rap and spoken word. Lots of originals and some covers.

“Ladies, gentlemen and people from Lynn,” intoned the MC. “We want to make this a place where people can feel welcome,” Don White often says when introducing a new performer. To close out the night, Don performed his signature “I’m From Lynn, What Can I Say” with electrifying guitar backup from sound man Eric Houde. “That’s how it’s done,” remarked White, acknowledging Houde’s leads.

I remember going to hear Don White in the 80’s. Back then, he was a clean-cut fellow in button down shirt and pants. Now his dark hair is long and his preferred attire is T-shirt and jeans, but his unique sense of humor has aged remarkably well. Most of his songs tell stories; he channels hilarious commentary on these stories between verses.

The night’s draw was Jim Infantino, front-man of Jim’s Big Ego and an accomplished singer-songwriter with darkly humorous twists to most of his songs. “I told you I was addicted to stress, we’re all gonna die, you’re an asshole, join my cult,” said Infantino recounting the songs in his set. “Let’s see, what other songs do I have,” he said before launching into “I Loved Her (Now She’s Dead).” He delights in encouraging the audience to sing along with a deranged yet hearty chorus to the song.

I also remember seeing Jim in the 80’s, at the Channel Cafe in Boston. My girlfriend wanted to see a new performer, John Svetky, but Infantino blew us away with his delivery and songs. He performed “Stress” both last night and on that night 20 years ago. A new song, “My Cult,” catalogued the features of all cults and religions from the crazy to the mainstream.

Among the other performers were my neighbor Tiegh Benod aka Walnut-da Lyrical Genie, Kato Mele, who will perform at next Wednesday’s Speak Up, Dan Margarita, Nick Zaino and yours truly.

The Walnut Street Cafe is a cozy, intimate, warm venue complete with an outdoor courtyard whose centerpiece is a fire-place, which the owner lit last night. The Cafe serves a variety of domestic and imported beers and wines and dozens of flavors of iced and hot coffee. If you’re hungry, there are club sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, bagels and pizza.

Editors note: if you performed last night and don’t see your name here, I would be happy to add it to the post along with a link. Post a comment or contact me.

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