The first rule of The Listening Room is fairly self-evident, but tonight Josh Small had to explain another rule when somebody's cell phone rang during his second song.
"You can talk on phones, it's okay. That's an amendment to the rules."
His no-so-subtle hint was taken seriously, although the old white-haired guy down the row from me continued to text throughout.
Too bad for him, though because Josh is an energetic performer and well worth watching, constantly tapping his foot and moving his shoulders.
After beginning with a boogie-woogie number with an Ode to Joy riff, Josh told the audience, "I'll continue my tuning show," a reference to the two guitars and banjo he'd brought to play and then launched into the closest thing to a love song he'd ever written, according to him.
There was a song about his grandmother, a pseudo-metal song he qualified with, "I mean, it's not metal but it's serious finger-picking" and finished with a Nilsson cover song, requesting of the other two performers that they also close with a cover.
The lovely Liza Kate's hushed performance began with her saying, "This must be how it's supposed to be.. in a good way."
There was a tribute to her mom, followed by a song that she said was "like four days old. It might be a preemie, I don't know."
Tuning her guitar afterwards, she playfully called it "doing a Josh Small cover."
With Liza's delicate voice and gentle playing, she is the ideal artist for the listening room environment.
The crowd listened with collective bated breath so as not to miss a syllable.
David Schultz, sans Skyline, closed the show by beginning with a tune (The Butcher) that will be on the new Jonathan Vassar/David Schultz collaborative album they're currently recording.
His second song was, like Liza's, a song written specifically for this show, a habit he said began back in the days before he had a band.
He had to pause mid-song to recall how the next part went.
"Tomorrow I'll be unloading a shipping container of latex gloves, " he told the audience, "Nights Ike this make that bearable."
David played songs from all three of his group's albums in stripped -down versions that were beautiful.
Per Liza's request, he finished with a John Prine cover, delighting the audience.
Pitching for all the musicians performing tonight, David said, "And there are CDs for sale in the back. And they're really good!"
The same could be said for the musicians that the nearly full house got to hear tonight.
You may want to mark your calendars for February 23 at 7:30 for the next Listening Room show.
Music begins promptly at 8, so don't be late.
That's the third rule of the Listening Room, just so you know.