Open-Mic night inspires creation, collaboration at Arts Garage

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By: David DiPino Contributing writer
While vacationing in Delray Beach, Gary Levine, a 62-year-old lawyer specializing in elder law from Poughkeepsie, New York, took the opportunity to try out and showcase a comedy routine he’s been working on at the Alchemy Artist Showcase, a bi-weekly open mic night in downtown Delray Beach. Levine has been writing his comedy with his wife Susan since January and it’s a labor of love the couple thoroughly enjoys.
She laughed at her husband’s jokes along with over 50 people from all walks of life and ages who packed the Arts Garage, 94 NE 2nd Ave., recently to participate in a three-hour show emceed by Ian Caven and his talented Alchemy backing band with Beto Rubinelli of Boca Raton on guitar, Jimmy Copeland on bass guitar and Tovah Lovely of West Palm beach on drums.
“My parents own a home a mile from the ocean and I hope it’s beachfront by the time I inherit it,” Levine said in a joke about the numerous local reports on sea level rise.
Levine said he found information online about the Alchemy Artist Showcase.
“We write together,” he said. “She’s my creative editor. I have stories. Everybody has stories to record. My comedy routine consists of these stories. I initially tried out my stuff at a local comedy in Poughkeepsie. I’ve found it a little tougher to find a place to showcase my work here in Florida but I finally found the Alchemy. The people in the audience we’re very supportive. I would definitely come back here again to perform next time I’m in town.”
Vanessa Simpson, a singer and resident of Margate, made the drive up to Alchemy with family and friends and she sang “At Last” by Etta James and “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys. Simpson, 19, took the stage in an attractive black jacket, maroon and black mini skirt and heels, but her soulful voice was icing on the cake. Her passion for the songs was evident. The crowd cheered Simpson after she belted out the songs with the backing band she had just met a few minutes before.
“I brought backing tracks with me on my phone but after walking up onstage I told the band what I wanted to sing and they were like we know that song. My Aunt Alba lives in Delray and told me about this Alchemy open mic night,” Simpson said.
She hopes to one day be discovered by a music executive. Simpson said you never know if and when if you’ll be discovered.
“If I get the opportunity I would love to pursue a career as a singer.”
Simpson has an original song, a debut single, she sings titled “Couldn’t Make You Love Me” and it’s available for free download at www.vanessaesimpson.com.
For more information on the Alchemy Artist Showcase visit www.facebook.com/Alchemy-Artist-Showcase, www.artsgarage.org or call 561-450-6357.