The HARD LUCK CAFé Presents
Remember This Great Evening

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Songwriting — from the heart

ARLON BENNETT Arlon was a Long Island teenager when he fell in love with the classic singer/songwriters of the 1970s. Arlon likes to 'reach, not preach' and admires the artists who realize great storytelling is great storytelling, whether it’s Dylan, Springsteen or Cash.

"You write songs the way Norman Rockwell would paint," a fan once said to Arlon. He then replied in straight deadpan; "Thank you, but, I think I'm more NeoClassicism with a spattering of French Impressionism". After a good laugh, they discussed how Arlon uses a vocal paintbrush on a sonic tapestry to tell a little bit of the story inside each one of us.

Summer’s Voice is Arlon’s third and latest release. He takes you to a gas station conversation with a Vietnam veteran, a bus ride with Rosa Parks, a stop light on your third date, amongst other cool vignettes. His songs are not all loveydovey or angry about something. Often, you’ll find out later what some of his songs really are about. For instance, the rocker Small Body Blonde is NOT about a curvaceous lady you are led to believe! But that’s Arlon’s style – relay the story with a twist and some panache. He also tackles subjects like death and forgiveness, but wraps them in jazzy progressions and harmonic interludes.

ARLON BENNETTArlon’s emergence in the Folk/Americana scene has grown steadily. While accumulating songwriting awards throughout North America, he has opened for such acts as Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze), Chris Stamey (dB’s), and Michael Smith and has sung with Livingston Taylor. Arlon won the Rose Garden Song Competition in 2005, placed second at the Great Waters Folk Festival in 2004, and has been a finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival and many others. Arlon also was twice selected by Noel ‘Paul’ Stookey to perform in his MusictoLife showcase. Aside from winning awards in the Billboard, MidAtlantic and Unisong contests, Arlon is equally proud that his lyrics to The Ace in Grace were used in the official statue dedication of personal hero and late tennis champion Arthur Ashe in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia.

Recently, Arlon’s music reached a bigger playing field when the New York Mets chose the title track of Summer’s Voice to be featured in a tribute video to Hall of Fame sportscaster Bob Murphy before a packed house at Shea Stadium.

There’s always something meaningful in Arlon’s songs because he recognizes the power of music to reach people. He gives his skills and talents to organizations like Hospice and “Wednesday’s Child” (NBC/Philadelphia), and participates in fundraising efforts for numerous causes. Arlon is never afraid to experiment and push his boundaries. His inherent need to constantly evolve is unmistakable on Summer’s Voice, and his music always comes from the heart. "It must", he says, "Because the audience will always know otherwise. It’s the most rewarding way to communicate, I wouldn’t have it any other way."

JOHN SONNTAGArlon Bennett gave us a solid set. His strong resonant voice added power to his inciteful lyrics, producing an entrancing hour.

Arlon was accompanied this evening by John Sonntag.

Praises by others for his performances:

  • "Arlon's songs ring true, whether he's writing about the personal or the political. And when he brings those worlds together ... the result is inspiring."
      John Platt, WFUV

  • "Every decade or so, a voice appears on the folk music scene that makes you sit up and take notice. When that voice is paired with songs and lyrics that tell a story or sing of the human spirit, it is truly magical. That voice is Arlon Bennett."
      Jane Falvey, WRIU, Kingston, RI

  Link to his songs on Arlon's MySpace page  

    or visit his web site:


Traditional American folk music


Stout is a group of experienced folk musicians based in the NYC Metropolitan area. Combining rich, hearty five-part vocal harmonies with traditional acoustic instruments, Stout creates an enthusiastic 19th century musical atmosphere. Their repertoire is a treasure trove of Irish and Anglo-American ballads, sea songs, popular songs of the 19th century, Civil War songs, banjo and fiddle tunes, nostalgic "hits" from the 1960's pop-folk renaissance, and a few compositions of their own.

The group consists of five voices and four instrumentalists, from l-to-r above: Frank Hendricks (guitar), Bob Conroy (banjo), Bill Grau (a voice), Norm Pederson (mandolin & fiddle), and Denny Ryan (bass).

Bob, a well regarded banjo player, has conducted workshops in England, Ireland, France, Denmark and here at home with such notables as Martin Carthy, John Cohen and Eric Weissberg. Bill came to folk music by way of "do-wop", his church's Schola Cantorum and the Clancey Brothers. Norm, in his youth, was under contract to Capitol Records. Frank, a classically trained vocalist, is a well known musical theater actor on Long Island, where he has been seen as Tevye, Don Quixote, Emile DeBecque and King Arthur. Denny performed many years with the Dargles and developed an expertise in vintage acoustic instruments as sales manager for Mandolin Brothers.

Stout thrilled our audience with their solid harmonies on their performances of our heritage traditional songs. The clock moved way too fast, and our audience cheered for more encores.

Hear why ... click on the strip pix below for videos of three songs from tonight's performance.

Safe at Snug Harbor: STOUT

The finale: STOUT

The encore: STOUT

Praises from others for their talents:

  • "Saw you at the LI Fair in Old Bethpage. We loved it! My 2 year old son makes us play the CD over and over and over ..."
      Kim, Long Island

  • "Saw you on Long Island with Tom Chapin - great show ... saw Tom tapping his foot involuntarily to some of your tunes."
      Seamus McKeon

  • "Best version of Fields of Athenry I've heard ... was on my chair!!! "
      Coleen McMenamin, New Jersey

  Link to Stout's web site:

Our host tonight was Dave Waxman, and our open mike featured performances by:

  • Jonathan Bodian Jonathan Bodian

  • Michael Wells Michael Wells

  • John Corr John Corr

  • Ken Bongort Ken Bongort

  • Antonio Dimarco Antonio Dimarco

  • Hank Stone Hank Stone

  • Princess Peapod Princess Peapod

  • Larry Moser Larry Moser

  • Richard Barnhart Richard Barnhart

  •   ... and Bob Westcott Bob Westcott

  • If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...