Here comes baseball season

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, as my old pal Fred Rogers used to say. Y’know, spring’s almost here, the cracking of bats is fixing to commence, and there’s some mighty sweet music in the air.

Now, speaking of your big leaguers vs. your young upstarts, for my new best friend Chuck, this particular column tends to be more prep-focused. I usually leave the seasoned pros—your acts like Pablo Cruise, Stoneground, Country Weather and the Rutabaga Boogie Band—to the major-league reporters. My bailiwick is more what you might call the Little League: locals just starting out, banging around the musical sandlot, dreaming of that shot at the bigs one day.

As any American Idol fan can tell you, it’s rare for someone to go from nowhere to marquee headliner overnight. Even if they don’t have to face the tribunal of a dyspeptic knickers-in-a-twist Brit, a grinning bass player who calls everyone “dawg” and an apparently intoxicated choreographer turned dance diva, our local would-be stars do have to stand for judgment before peers. There are places around town where these Little League tryouts are held every week, and they’re called open-mic nights. And they can be every bit as entertaining as American Idol’s tryout phase.

I wandered into the True Love Coffeehouse on a recent Tuesday night during the early part of Matt the Bastard’s open-mic, just in time to see a guy with a shaved head take the stage. He said his name was Bossio, and the songs he proceeded to play were jaw-dropping—not jaw-dropping in the conventional sense, but jaw-dropping in their mix of genres, kind of like a freeway pileup involving Tenacious D, Fred Durst, José Feliciano and that guy from the ’90s jam band the Spin Doctors.

Never have been a big fan of scat-singing in a non-jazz context; once, I’d unconsciously inserted a Spin Doctors advance cassette into the tape deck of my old truck as I parked in a Midtown alley. When I fired up the truck, a song called “Cleopatra’s Cat” came on at full blast, and I was so unhinged that I backed right into a brick wall.

Bossio scat-sang his tunes, too, but the lyrics were more interesting and less hippified. Most were about getting trashed, late-night booty calls and hoping you didn’t wake up next to someone totally skanky (“U.G.L.Y.,” with the line, “Just another dumb junkie drunk butt slut humping chump”). Using the armchair A&R man yardstick, I may not have signed him, but at least he had something weirdly compelling.

There were acts that followed, but none, I assumed, could equal that brilliance. So I e-mailed host Matt the Bastard: Who was that guy? He responded: “Normally not my cup of tea, but these guys have put a lot of work into their harmonies.”

These guys being SolidFellaz, a duo whose other half, Slosh, wasn’t there ( Their harmonies seem a little too Grand Funk-ish, but YMMV.

The True Love’s Open Mic Plus! Showcase is this Friday, February 29, by the way. It will feature four new acts Matt would like to showcase. See you there, Chuck?