Ken Maiuri’s Clublanb: The 413 in Easthampton offers music with a community vibe

  • Matt Silberstein, host of the weekly open mic at The 413 in Easthampton, says the cozy space is like “your friend’s basement that you used to play music in.” Photo by Christian LaChapelle

  • Matt Silberstein inside The 413 in Easthampton, where a piano found on Craigslist is now part of the popular open mic. Photo by Christian LaChapelle

  • Christian LaChapelle, owner of The 413 in Easthampton, opens each open mic by singing Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” with Silberstein. Photo courtesy of Christian LaChapelle

Published: 5/22/2019 4:56:15 PM

Last September, local musician Matt Silberstein was headed to The 413 in Easthampton for the first time. He was going to see a friend play and didn’t think he knew the spot, but as he approached the self-described “wee corner pub” on Holyoke Street, he realized he’d passed by the little brick building countless times when it used to be Casey’s Big Dog Saloon.

Silberstein, who lives in Easthampton, quickly discovered he loved the sound and vibe of the room, and after some conversation with owner Christian LaChapelle, a plan was set: on October 1, Silberstein would start and host a weekly open mic at the pub, every Monday night from 7:30-10 p.m. It’s become a popular favorite; Easthampton singer/songwriter Jay Johnson described it as “the musician’s clubhouse.”

Wood paneling, a wall dedicated to pictures of the staff’s beloved dogs, Kermit the Frog hugging an acoustic guitar on display, Boggle and Jenga at the ready, an inviting piano (found on Craigslist and hauled over with sweat and love by LaChapelle and Scott Hall) — it all adds up to a welcoming, relaxed spot. 

“It’s like your friend’s basement that you used to play music in,” Silberstein said in an interview earlier this week. “It has a very homey kind of feel.”

Adding to the close-knit vibe, The 413 open mic has some warm traditions that were stumbled onto and stuck to. On that very first October evening, Silberstein began with a set that included an unplanned cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” — which LaChapelle then revealed was one of his favorite songs, and, by chance, had come up on his iPod’s shuffle during the bar’s opening day.

So Silberstein decided that each open mic should start with him playing and LaChapelle singing “Atlantic City” together. Also, each night ends with everyone on hand joining in to sing The Band’s “The Weight” (Silberstein gets to do everyone’s favorite verse, starring Crazy Chester).

Silberstein (who plays in Two Week Notice, Mystics Anonymous, and the Salvation Alley String Band) has had experience hosting open mics — he was in charge of one at The Spoke in Amherst from 2006-09 — and The 413’s Monday night mic runs smoothly, with each person on the sign-up sheet getting 3 songs (or 15 minutes) of playing time. Every week there’s a different featured performer, who might play for as long as an hour.

Silberstein said the 413 open mic has “a real nice mix of people who play somewhat professionally and have gigs on the weekends, and people who’ve practiced all week and are really trying to get more into a professional mindset of playing out and performing.”

He’s made some new musical acquaintances from those who’ve signed up to perform (he mentioned Michael Kane, as well as Ahnataye Brooke, who bowled over the crowd with three Gillian Welch songs during her first time up), and he happily told a story about George Beaupre, someone he’s known for years just around town. 

“When I started this up, he showed up every single week, playing Zeppelin and Frampton and classic rock and folk covers. He got [back] into writing songs, his first in something like 20 years. I felt like a proud parent when after a month or two, he had the song, rehearsed with his three friends, and they all sang and played it together.”

Featured performers over the past 8 months have included Christa Joy, Philip Price, Lily Sexton, Mike Stitsinger, Lynn Simonds, Jeff Lloyd, John Crand, Chris Merenda, and Roches tribute band Jerks On the Loose (Silberstein brought in his own extra mixer from home to make sure he could do their multiple vocals justice).

Miranda Brown was a featured performer back in January. “I've never been a big open mic-er, but I genuinely enjoy going and playing there on Mondays. It's incredibly welcoming and friendly. I've seen older women playing folk songs, younger dudes with electronic set-ups … it really runs the gamut. And the crowd is always kind, which is a very nice plus.”

Jay Johnson had the featured spot this past April; he said there were so many musicians in the room hoping to play that he asked for his own set to be cut by twenty minutes. The good vibes were flowing.

“Eric Lee jumped in on fiddle when [a performer] started playing a spirited version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Girl from the North Country.’ Stephen Desaulniers played ‘Liquor Store’ [one of his old Scud Mountain Boys songs] and for a moment we were all in a new Bay State. It’s a little secret bar room full of music lovers.”

Silberstein said that one of his hopes for the Monday night open mic was to establish a community. “That’s the big piece of why I continue to do it, as well as what makes it successful.”

The next featured performers are Michelle & Ed Kostek (aka The New Domestics, May 27), Tom Pappalardo (of The Demographic, June 3), Henning Ohlenbusch (of Gentle Hen and The Fawns, June 10), Kaliis Smith (of Ex-Temper, June 17) and the duo of Rob Maher and Matthew Thornton (June 24). 

Ken Maiuri can be reached at clublandcolumn@gmail.com.


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