Long Island Pulse Singer-Songwriter Series—August 2011

The thing about this series is that it’s all about the songwriter. It’s not about the genres of folk or rock or indie or blues or whatever. It’s all about the songwriter…and the songwriting. It’s about shaping something out of words and sound that is uniquely yours and sharing it with the universe, or at least a small little corner of it, once a month. The idea is to expect something different every month, and this past installment’s lineup certainly delivered.

Colm Clark (aka Crush Limbo and Malcolm Strange) loves pop music. He loves the glam of it, the weird of it, the possibilities of humor intermingled with it. He sings about banal conversations and detritus. He plays like he’s in the garage, and sometime he feels like he’s a robot, suggesting that we too might have such modern proclivities. The music rocks out and suggests a hint of progressive pop, but mostly Colm is a songwriter who embraces the bittersweet and playful dark poetry of The Velvet Underground on tracks like “Who Loves the Sun,” a song that he himself covered quite adeptly at our gathering. We found ourselves humming along and offering harmonies and thinking that if we – for some weird reason – didn’t know the song, it would seem like Colm himself wrote it.

And then Mark Lesseraux. His first song involved a hushed and haunting melody on the piano, deep and resonant crooning about being stuck in a coffin, and an eerie and scratchy falsetto emulating the appropriate clawing noises that follow in the imagination. Strange for sure, but oh so lovely. And lest you get the idea that this songwriter if all about the dark stuff, Mark charmed us with playful yet skilful investigations of how the contralto sound might mingle with the blues (think Robert Plant) and what 80s dance songs might sound like if played with subtle acoustic folk inclinations. There’s a lot of the performance artist in this man. He’s incredibly entertaining, studied, and very able. In addition, Mark has just about the most perfect rock voice one might have. It’s buoyant enough to talk with the gods and rich enough to suggest terrestrial pain. And the cool thing is that we all got to experience the full range of it in the intimacy of the Cinema Arts Centre’s Sky Room and Café.

Find these artists online, make them your friends on Facebook, and come down for more on the last Wednesday of every month in Huntington from 8-10pm. We have a few more installments before we take a little break, reflect, and reconfigure things. Something different. That’s what we’re after. What else defines these strange and crazy times better?



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alan semerdjian

Alan Semerdjian is a writer, musician, English teacher, and occasional visual artist. Besides LI Pulse, his work has appeared in Newsday, Adbusters, Chain, The Lyric Review and numerous other print and online publications, anthologies, and chapbooks. His first full-length book of poetry is In the Architecture of Bone (Genpop Books 2009). You can visit him digitally at alanarts.com and find out about his music at alansemerdjian.com.