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SEPTEMBER 6, 2009   

Mike's Barn

Luca Mundaca on stage at Mike's BarnIt was two years ago when we first visited Mike's Barn for the annual Broad Side of the Barn show. BSOTB highlights female performers, mostly blues in 2009, jazz this year.

Mike's Barn really is a barn owned by a guy named Mike who loves blues and jazz. He shows it by running what he calls a musicians' clubhouse. Most of the time admission is free, but when it's not you sure get your money's worth.

First up this year was Luca Mundaca, a Brazilian-born and Cleveland-based singer/guitarist. Her playing is beautiful, and her crystalline voice washes over you like warm ocean waves. I'd had a pretty bad day or two and was feeling low when we arrived at the Barn. By the end of Mundaca's set I felt things were right with the world again. Music can do that.

The other two acts were more straightforward jazz singers, each very entertaining in her own way. Barbara Knight fit the traditional jazz band vocalist role very well. Evelyn Wright got a little bit more funky as she took command of the stage.

One of many reminders that Mike's Barn is more than a typical concert venue: all three performers came early and stayed late to listen to each other. It seemed that they enjoyed the concert as much as the rest of us did.

I can't leave out another aspect of the Barn experience: food and drink. Alcoholic beverages are strictly BYOB, meaning that you can enjoy a great evening (8 until close to midnight) without spending a bunch of cash or feeling guilty about nursing a beer all night long.

And food? Good and cheap as well, or you can bring your own. There's a charcoal grill fired up outside where you can cook your own, or you can enjoy a simple picnic dinner for 3-4 bucks.

Chili dog with slawAlways searching for the perfect slaw dog I ordered a chili dog dinner for $3.50, added cheese for a quarter, and assembled my own. I sprinkled the shredded cheddar on top of the chili, then spread some of the cole slaw side dish on top of that.

Everything tasted fresh but nothing stood out. I'd have liked the chili to have more character and the slaw to have more mayo.

Once again, like recently in New Hampshire, the challenger doesn't come close to the standard set by the Hot Dog Inn/Old Fashion Hot Dogs on Lorain at West 41st.

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