Redeye - Flowers in the Attic December 16 2004

Part of the fun" of doing this column is forcing myself out of my element. So on Dec. 11

I guess I spend too many hours in the chintzy clubs. In Eddie's intimate showroom (smaller than the bloody backroom of the Earl), the only ice being flashed is in drinks, and the only bling is neither silver nor platinum — it's steel strings on the 30-odd guitars lined up hoping to strum some heartstrings. Fans of acoustic music aren't immune to getting crunk, however. Apparently, there's a drink called a Snowcone — which mixes coke and UV Blue raspberry vodka — that sounds as delicious as Alize.

One other thing similar between a dance club and Eddie's is that when I'm judging, I'm on the ones and twos. But not the Technics 1200 turntables, I'm actually handed two numbers, "1" and "2," and round after round must judge whether a first or second act is better. Now I better understand the sick thrill Simon Cowell gets on "American Idol" as he crushes spirits.

Judging is more than dashing hopes, however. It's passing snarky notes hastily scribbled on the back of envelopes. Past the Guinness and fries, what kept me going was my co-judge, Mary Byrne of Hot Young Priest. I think I got an instant crush when she remarked that there are always "disciplines that could use discipline." Flutter.

So, what about the music you might ask. We got the spectrum: Alanis Mayer to (Jakob) Dylan Matthews Band. There were cellos and bellows, accordions with a touch of Tori Amos and acoustic guitars galore. Some of it made James Taylor seem like a poet laureate. Nearing the finals, there was good-hearted ribbing (gangly but charming Jason Harwell) and bleeding hearts (the swelling, vocally accomplished Arlington Priest). Forget the stereotype of primarily women pouring their hearts out, though — apparently, within every frat guy is a three-chord troubadour longing to become Mayer of the acoustic stage.

Rightfully winning was Mike Willis, not because he broke that much of a semblance of conventions(s), but because he worked the room like a seasoned pro (which he indicated he was, having played Eddie's since he was 16). With all honesty, I would recommend any fan of this genre to head to Eddie's, grab a Snowcone and a seat, watch any number of soul-bearing songwriters, and enjoy that syrupy rush. You might catch a rising star while you catch a lump in your throat.

Chick'N' belittle

Perhaps the most heartwarming ode to holiday drinking since I fantasized that Tiny Tim choked on his own vomit cradling a bottle of Maker's Mark whiskey, Dad's Garage's annual production of Chick & Boozy's Holiday on Ice spreads the "cheer" (of alcoholism) to allow liquor in the front and spirit in the rear. That's a dirty joke, ya'll — as dirty jokes are second only to alcohol for Chick and Boozy — and it's the season's best innuendo since a couple weeks ago when I "stuffed the turkey" at this cheap motel. J/K. The show, however, is fowl and tasty, and I ain't talkin' chicken. So find time to grab a beer with the Labatt-sponsored corporate sellouts and juggle a big ball of holiday fun before the show ends Dec. 19.-- Tony Ware

Keep one RedEye open. And send all comments, questions, observations and invitations to redeye@creativeloafing.com.