Variety at Semester’s First Coffeehouse

TJ Shea (Front) and Mike Virga (Back) play at the first Coffeehouse of the Year (Photo by Tom Keen)
TJ Shea (Front) and Mike Virga (Back) play at the first Coffeehouse of the Year (Photo by Tom Keen)

An energetic crowd gathered last Thursday, September 17, for the semester’s first Coffeehouse.  The Daily Grind hummed with the electricity of guitar amplifiers and great tunes and the acts proved to be lively and entertaining.

First up was Hydrofish, the self-proclaimed (and self-crowned) “Jazz Masters, the Masters of Jazz.”  Hydrofish masterminds Reid Levin and Dom Morris serenaded the Grind crowd with such heart-felt songs as “Die Southern Continent of Australia” and “Your Parents Don’t Love You, They Wish They Had an Abortion.”  The masterful saga “Firecracker Love” was a hit, and their semi-majestic jazz exposition of our national anthem was a great finale.  In short, Hydrofish can only be described as a cosmic toilet flush of sound and disharmony that you have to hear for yourself.

Next was a solo act by Gino Hannah, a Jack Johnson-esque acoustic guitarist whose nostalgic performance of the Toy Story classic “You Got a Friend in Me” was an audience favorite.  Gino also presented a couple of his own songs, and he finished with a soulful rendition of “Hollaback Girl” that drove the crowd to tears… of laughter.

TJ Shea and Mike Virga, an electric and acoustic guitar duo, delivered a set of well-known and well-loved Beatles tunes in honor of the recent release of the band’s digitally re-mastered studio collection.  They certainly did not need “Help” producing a full sound, complete with a solo guitar part on “Something” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and an excellent backing acoustic part on “Yesterday” and “Eight Days a Week.”  The set would have made “Her Majesty” proud, and in “The End”, with a little help from their audience, they wrapped up with “Hey Jude.”

Last but not least was Chris Blocker, who, armed with a pawn shop guitar, laid down a steady barrage of machine gun strumming.  Opening with Beck’s “Nightmare Hippie Girl,” Chris went on to perform four songs of his own, including “My Extra Arm” and “Masochist Too.”  Chris’s edgy lyrics and impassioned guitar work came from the heart, and after a while of intense playing he had to borrow a guitar from a previous set for him to finish his own.  But Chris describes his material best: “This is the background music to your f***ed up relationship,” he said.  He finished up with a Leadbelly classic made famous by Kurt Cobain entitled “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”

This eclectic group of musicians was only a small representation of the talent at St. Mary’s College. If you play guitar, keyboard, accordion, xylophone, sitar or anything else, contact Coffeehouse coordinator Meghan Milstead at mcmilsted@smcm.edu. Coffeehouse will be playing every Thursday this semester at 8:00pm at the Student Center Patio.

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