The Folkey Monkey is my heartspace, my soul gig. (Visit The Folkey Monkey Showcase website here for schedules, artist info. and more.) Each show, I invite a guest singer/songwriter to join me on stage for two hours. They’ve chosen a theme (usually an artist they admire, or a topic) and we intersperse songs on the theme with our original music, trading songs back and forth and playing along with each other as much as we can.
An Ideal Music-lover’s Experience
First and foremost the Folkey Monkey is a listening environment. Our venue is a very intimate, acoustically lovely room, with a fine sound system, nice lighting, a grand piano, and comfortable seating for 200. The audience and the performers have an “in concert” experience, creating the evening together “in concert”, both playing important roles, determining how the night shakes out. The audience loves the impromptu aspect of the shows, knowing that rarely is anything worked out in advance except for determining who will play which songs on the given theme. The fact that Jeff and I and my guests play along on each other’s material always makes for interesting musical interchanges, and quite often magic happens. There is no alcohol served and talking during the performances is highly discouraged which is a welcome respite for those tired of the “noisy bar” atmosphere which accompanies so much live music.
How It Came To Be
In October 2005 I started a Thursday night residency show at a coffeehouse in our neighborhood called The Hot Monkey Love Café. It was to be two hours every Thursday when I could invite my peers to join me to make acoustic music together. To distinguish it from the venue’s other nights (blues night, hip hop night, death metal night, jazz jam etc.) I decided to call it Joe Rathburn’s Folkey Monkey Thursdays. That coffeehouse closed so I moved the show to another coffeehouse but kept the name and shortened it to The Folkey Monkey. A friend, percussionist Jeffrey Stasny became the house percussionist at every show. Soon, that venue closed as well and I partnered up with VISION a Center for Spiritual Living, who not only let me use their room, but actually staffed me with volunteers and supplied snacks and goodies to be served at the breaks. That happened in February of 2011 and it’s been a perfect partnership ever since. I would advise any true acoustic music lover to come to at least one Folkey Monkey show, but be careful, they can be habit forming! Visit The Folkey Monkey Showcase website here