Hump-Day Has A New Name: Odd Wednesdays
By far the musical discovery of the night was young vocalist Erin Ragland
"Odd was hilarious!" said Mindy Vargas, as she walked out the door near Sunset & Vine, vowing to be back in 2 weeks. She was talking about the new music/variety show "Odd Wednesdays" taking up residence at Ivan Kane's Cafe Was every odd numbered Wednesday night.
Cafe Was is the latest jewel in Kane's crown - the bold impresario behind the LA and Vegas incarnations of the retro-burlesque "40 Deuce." His new place, a 'Bohemian Bistro' in Hollywood at Sunset & Vine has been open 15 months and is hitting its stride just as the weather turns warmer and people are venturing out of their homes. With live entertainment, including burlesque Thursday through Sunday, Kane was open to something different while expanding his entertainment to Wednesdays. And that's what he got.
TV host Mark DeCarlo, best known from the dating show Studs and more recently, "Taste of America," a comedic food show on the Travel Channel, was back home in LA and itching to do another live show. "TV's Mark Walberg and I used to host a variety show at the Atlas Suppler club, adjacent to the Wiltern Theater a few years ago. It was a combination of comedy, improv, variety acts and great live music," he explained. "We had Second City guys like Steve Carrell, and Jim Turner, along side new singers and strange hypnotists. It was the Gong Show without the Gong."
DeCarlo hosts Odd Wednesdays, sprinkling in his off-the-cuff comedy between jamming with the phenomenal house band, Old Blues Eyes. Regular viewers of his Travel Channel show would catch brief riffs of his harmonica playing, but live at Cafe Was, DeCarlo lets it fly. The house band, comprised of session players and film and TV composers, backed DeCarlo, and all the singers throughout the night and stunned the packed house with their expert playing, all while keeping the volume perfectly suited for the upscale, yet comfortable club.
A few mediocre comics were mixed into the night. Not hilarious, but brief enough to endure. Comedic highlights included Italian comics Jimmy & Joey and Ron Barba's musical comedy set mixed in with awe-inspiring juggling by Bryson Lang and Roxanne Ferrara’s risqué burlesque. DeCarlo also had some fun with the packed house in between acts.
One comic ended her act by spitting milk all over the stage floor, shorting out the entire sound system. The crew flew into action to fix the problem, leaving DeCarlo on stage - with time to kill. Using the easy, laid back style honed in over 400 Travel Channel cities, he simply started talking to audience members, settling finally on a little 8 year old girl who'd just seen "Cats" down the street at the Pantages Theater. The audience was howling as the little girl described the various cats in the show, while DeCarlo had fun with her, but never at her expense. In no time, the sound was fixed and the show continued.
By far the musical discovery of the night was young vocalist Erin Ragland. An unknown, DeCarlo found her through MySpace and invited her to join the cast for the night on a hunch. Her robust, throaty voice rocked the room and brought even show business veterans like Chris Bearde (creator of the original Gong Show), and Billy Riback (Home Improvement) to their feet.
Though the show presents twice a month, each show is conceived differently. The First odd Wednesday of each month is a 'jam night' where unknowns come down and sing and perform their acts in rapid succession. The Last odd Wednesday of each month features only known musicians and actors from film and TV, with just one or two of the Jam Night standouts mixed in.
Odd Wednesdays plans to be the place where musicians in town to play one of LA's larger venues can come in and do a few tunes to promote an upcoming gig along side established comics in a hip room in the heart of Hollywood.
And not just Hollywood… Mike Sinclair of Streaming Media Hosting shoots the show with an array of video cameras, and sends it out as a live webcast all over the world. Past shows are archived at www.cafewas.com
DeCarlo goes on: "The goal is to do a an original, one of a kind show where people can walk through the door and see someone they know from TV doing something they didn't know they did."
"Jeff Goldbulm played here New Years Eve," explained Kane recently. "The guy is a fantastic musician, had his band around him. People were stunned at how good he is. He played all night, and we were filled with happy people. Which is how I like it."
Seems like Kane and DeCarlo are well on their way to being happy for a long time.
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» STUDS Star Mark DeCarlo Packs The House With ODD WEDNESDAYS At Cafe Was