It’s been a while since we checked in on Can You Rock a Little Softer, the weekly Wednesday event that Miami New Times just named Best Open Mike night. If you don’t already know, the schedule is thus: From 9:30 to 10 p.m., there’s an acoustic open mike. Then, from 10 to midnight, some featured acoustic acts perform. Finally, there’s another open mike session from midnight to 1 a.m.
On the bill as featured acoustic acts tonight are Brother Lou and Matt Sabatella. A regular at intimate spots like the Luna Star Café in North Miami, Brother Lou’s music definitely rambles in the folk vein. But alongside the conscious lyrics come catchy melodies and bubbling percussion, sort of like Simon & Garfunkel taken down a few octaves and roughed up a little with the blues. And this past April, his song “Hey Jesus” (actually a bit of a dig at self-righteous “Christians”) won an honor award in the Great American Song contest, in the folk/acoustic category.
Matthew Sabatella, meanwhile, is similarly one of those rare folks in South Florida to re-examine real American roots music. When he plays with his Ramblin’ String Band, we’re talking the real deal – banjo, mandolin, fiddle, songs about rivers and such. With his ongoing Ballad of America album series, he re-interprets some of the country’s oldest, most commonly sung songs, like “Oh Susanna,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” even “Home on the Range.” It’s fascinating to hear these songs lovingly brought to life in today’s hyper-technological age. – Arielle Castillo
Can You Rock A Little Softer? Takes place tonight and every Wednesday at Churchill’s, 5501 NE 2nd Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m., and admission is $5. Ages 18+ with ID. Call 305-757-1807, or visit www.churchillspub.com.