Mikey Music nite
By Robert V. Gilheany
On Friday April 25 we had a memorial and birthday concert for Mikey Layne at the University Cafe. Mikey was a soul man, and his music was very funky. It mixed pop, soul and funk, and it had a universal, positive and anti-racist message. On January 7 2006, Mikey lost a long battle with AIDS.
The birthday concert was planned to take place at the University Café, with acts as diverse as blue grass duo Beau and Nigel, grunge rockers Kinky Porcupine, pianist and songstress Nicole Sena Evens, Mikey’s mother, Marjorie Eliot, and brother, Rudel Drears, both accomplished Jazz pianists.
After the University Cafe was booked for the event there was a change in management at the cafe. I went to the Café the afternoon of the event, and the new management didn’t know about it except for a poster in the Café. After much explaining and schmoozing everything was worked out and the show was saved.
However, last minute complications kept popping up. Nigel, of Beau & Nigel, called and said that he was picking up someone at JFK and would be late. I figured, OK, Beau & Nigel will go on after Kinky Porcupine. But Nigel called back and said that he needed to go on early before running to JFK. Marjorie Eliot also called and said that she and Rudel would not be arriving at Stony Brook till 9:07pm. Also, for no logical reason, Kinky Porcupine needed to go on early. They were the only rock grunge band and were scheduled to do an hour long set. I felt they should have been the last act to close the event.
As 9pm approached I told members of Kinky Porcupine that I was heading up to the train station to walk Marjorie and Rudel to the University Cafe. On my way to the train, I thought the only thing that could go wrong now would be the train being late. I was at the station platform and it was 9:12. Rudel called and informed me that the train was held up in Smithtown, so the train would be 30 minutes late. Beau called and said that they were ready to go on. I said, “Koool, but wait till I get there to do certain song.”
Marjorie, Rudel and I got back to the cafe at 9:30, and Beau & Nigel were on stage, but didn’t start. I did a quick intro and the show began.
Beau & Nigel did a few blue grass numbers. Nigel sang and both musicians played the guitar. Beau is a mighty fine picker. Nigel spoke to the crowd and said that they were going to cover a Mikey song. Nigel said that he had never met Mikey and hadn’t heard his music until I gave Beau a CD. They covered “Hay Karin” and it was way “koool.” During their set their friend Dan played the violin, and it was a great arrangement of “Hay Karin” from the Thank you for Talking to Me Gunya album that Mikey and his German band recorded in 1996. Beau & Nigel closed with the bluegrass number “Rolling in My Sweet Baby’s Arms.”
Kinky Porcupine took the stage. They opened with a song called “Serenade” they were major grunge. The guitarist James is hot. He rocks. The opening number went from being a mellow jam to grunging out. They played an hour of original music, with Erica on drums and Jessica Forman on bass. James performed lead vocals except for two songs. Erica sang her song “Nicotine” and Jessica lead on a song. In the middle of their set Brian Baru plugged in his guitar and joined KP on stage. He sang an original called “Mikey and the Angels,” named after Mikey’s last band. Brian played that song acoustically at the last Be-In and was invited to join KP on that number. KP covered the Ramones song “Blitzkrieg Bop” and then wrapped up their set.
Nicole Sean Evens took the seat at the keyboard and performed a number of beautiful original songs. She has a big voice and singular style of piano playing. She covered “Sony,” a Mikey song from the aforementioned album.
I knew the last train out of Stony Brook going to the City left at 11:30, and Marjorie and Rudel needed to get back to the city. They were scheduled to play on the east side on April 26. So I arranged for them to get a lift to Ronkonkoma. Unfortunately, that fell through at the last second. I would have to go to plan B to get them to Ronkonkoma.
Rudel Drears took the stage and played “Everybody is a star,” a Sly and the Family Stone hit. Mikey was a big fan of Sly and they were a major influence on his music. He then played “Happy Birthday” and called his mother up to the stage. Marjorie Eliot played the piano in her pretty Jazz style, and Rudel sang the last two songs of the night.
Beau and Nicole drove Rudel and Marjorie down to the Ronkonkoma station, where they just caught the train headed back to New York City.