Utter Madness: MadCap Monday turns 5

Madcap Mondays aren’t the dreary open mics you see in the movies, though there are similarities. Folks full of beer do shout from the audience, some performers tiptoe onto the stage one stiff breeze away from emotional collapse, not everybody knows all the words to the songs they’re singing.

But the shouts from around the bar at Dusk, which has no drink menu, are of praise and support. Even the most trepidatious of singers come off the stage full of sweet relief, raised by boisterous applause from a crowd that’s full of their creative kin. Even on the dreariest Monday of sopping wet May, the place filled in cozily by 9pm with people carrying guitars, wearing cool hats and looking to lift each other up.

As with many open mics, performers in waiting make up a good chunk of the audience, but they aren’t just biding their time, scrolling through Instagram until their name is called. They watch the show, they chat about legal mushrooms in Colorado and segue into comic books, they applaud with dedication. It’s almost like being at a karaoke night with friends from work. Many of the performers cross-pollinate each other’s sets, singing backup, laying down chords, making sure everyone gets their few minutes’ worth. The show is tightly run and clearly much beloved by its creator.

Nick Cozzolino orchestrates the event with limitless energy. He climbs up to the sound booth often, descends and mingles with his audience and introduces each act in between, often with a can of Red Bull in his hand. It’s his ship and he steers it well, making sure slots are full, performers are heard and that everyone is appreciated. When the night kicked off around eight, he complimented the audience.

“Give yourselves a hand for being on the razor’s edge of post-apocalyptic America,” he told the barflies before singing an Italian ballad. A true entertainer, he seemed to grow stronger as more people filtered in from the rain. Many of the same folks have been making their way to Harris Ave in beautiful Olneyville for quite a while and new ones join all the time.

On June 17, Madcap celebrates its fifth year of being one of Providence’s better-loved open forums. There are many good reasons for this. The show-runners keep wait times between performers short and the energy up. Everyone who plays does so with their full heart, strumming out their originals and covers (everything from Creedence to The Talking Heads) to a room of strangers and those soon-to-be friends. The drinks are cheap. And, at least on the Monday I went, they played sweet kung fu on the bar TV.

When one guitarist called out for a capo, two were brought forth. Cozzolino made sure everyone got a hand for their participation in this communal exercise. Truthfully, it’s the kind of thing that’s easy to love in PVD. One singer gently hustled demo CDs for cigarettes and a little room on the tab while another sung their ballads and anthems to a room full of people wanting to hear it all.

There’s no cover and it goes nice and late. Get yourself down there and see the show. It’s waiting for you.

MadCap Monday is a free open mic event that takes place every Monday at Dusk, 301 Harris Ave, PVD. For more, fb.com/madcapmonday

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