review 10/17

17 October 2011.
Storychord’s Around The Campfire @ HousingWorks Bookstore Cafe.

Tonight online literary/music/visual arts journal Storychord’s founder, Sarah Knowles, presented an evening of spooky stories, spookier songs and — this part’s the spookiest — S’MORES. It provided a perfect transition into the impending madness of CMJ week.First worth noting is the intimate venue, HousingWorks Bookstore Cafe in New York’s Greenwich Village. The old-timey structure boasts wrapping staircases, walls stuffed with books and a pious vibe. That last part’s likely thanks to the establishment’s charitable roots. Absolutely all proceeds generated from book, media and cafe sales go to benefit those affected by AIDS and homelessness. Now ain’t that just the coolest?

Painter Andrea Sparacio contributed the event-specific diptych featuring a toasty outdoor fire. The piece set the night’s Halloweenie mood.

Fiction writer Mile Klee went up first to bat. He recited a flowery, winding piece set in the 18th century. Klee mentioned a friend once asked if the story specifically investigated an addiction to the Internet. Giggles abounded following the quick share, but Klee never confirmed nor denied this claim.

Katie Mullins brought her ukulele and oversize Jewish harp to the stage after. She sang a four-song story following a freshly-fallen couple throughout the first three-word exchanges to the inevitably grisly camping trip to… well, the theme was spooky, right? Mullins coaxed a lavishly creeping quality from her handheld harp and married it sweetly to her Andrew Bird-challenging whistle. It was her voice that shined as the standout feature of her set, of course, though… it dripped from the raised platform one part woodland nymph battle-cry, another part flaming phoenix yodel. Each time time her mouth opened, she seemed reborn — an event mirrored through the rekindled, astutely attentive audience.

Tim Mucci uttered the most terrifying tale of the evening. He airily delivered a macabre plot twisting around a child’s early-life scaring glimpse at death during a family roadtrip. Mucci coiled the following words to cap his story off with a house full of goosebumps.

Another reader, Michelle Augello-Page, stood the stage next. Her prose morosely danced throughout a forest of deceit and infidelity. The words hung ornate, impossible to understand without its cousins. Augello-Page’s story cradled a complex beauty that perhaps would better be appreciated when printed. That doesn’t mean I don’t plan to look up just that, y’know.

A guitar and its master, Will Stratton (buddy of Sufjan Stevens, NBD…), closed the night’s curtains. Strumming his strings as if they lived on a banjo, he belted ballads of murder, hexing love and — of course — mercury poisoning. Nothing screeches scarier than abundant mounds of fresh yellowtail or cracked thermometers (guess on which he sing-song waxed). Hear his record, New Vanguard Blues, recorded in Queens just last summer via Bandcamp. He also mentioned a new full-length due in November — something worth an eye-out.

To make matters better, the show yielded a decent 100-something turn-out. Fingers crossed it raised some funds for HousingWorks’ good aims and those good aims of Storychord, too. The evening proved a fine start to a wild week, this time, in the tune of tasty twang.
Many thanks to BBQCHICKENROBOT for this review!


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