JoesCafe

JoesCafe

 New York City, New York, USA
BandFolkAcoustic

London born songwriter now based in New York City

Biography

"Warm, witty, tender, poignant" (Rita Kohn, NUVO, Indianapolis)
"A thoroughly enjoyable evening of toe-tapping music" (Katelyn Coyne, Indianapolis Fringe Reviews)
"A fast moving one hour of accomplished entertainment" (Danny Gaisin, Ontario Arts Review)
"Magic goes into overtime" (Tim Koetting, Hamilton Fringe Reviews)
"Top notch storytelling" (Katie Penrose, 'The View')
"The less than an hour it takes seems too short" (Tom Mackan, Hamilton Fringe Reviews)
"Riveting stories told in song" (Roberta Parker, Minnesota Fringe Reviews)
"Joe's Cafe" is the name of my latest CD. It's also a musical revue and a traveling road show. It consists of original songs based on true stories, each with a specifically American theme. Onstage I sometimes perform it alone, but I like it best of all when I perform it with friends, and we share the songs between us. On the CALENDAR page of this site you will see where "JOE'S CAFE" is scheduled to be performed over the coming year. On the PRESS page you can read reviews of the album and some of my other CDs. On the AUDIO page you can read lyrics from the show, and hear a selection of songs from the CD. The recordings feature a full band, including Michael Manring on bass and Darol Anger on violin. The songs are sung by the vocalists who took part in the first ever performance of "JOE'S CAFE", at the Metropolitan Room in New York City in December 2009.
If you come to a performance of "JOE'S CAFE", I and my fellow performers will keep you entranced for more than an hour with fifteen songs that convey the experience of ordinary American people. "Sally's Farm" is the story of Kathleen Kincade, the founder of the commune movement in the '60s. "Days Of Mercy" tells of the exodus of one poor family during the Dust Bowl depression. "Miss Burgoyne And The Old Milwaukee" narrates the strange habits of a lonely spinster in the midwest. Each story is a peice in the mosaic that is the history of America itself: from the Civil War through to the present day.
I'll be happy to perform "Joe's Cafe" tonight at a venue near you - alone or with friends.
Rupert Wates
NEW YORK CITY
REVIEW OF "JOE'S CAFE"
"Wates doesn't withhold his power as a poet, tearing through the veneer of consensus reality to bring listeners the raw truth of the human condition..."JOE'S CAFE" swings, ponders, rambles and scotts a boot or two across a gin-stained dance floor, but mainly it burrows deeply into heart and mind. This play of seemingly innocent musics with stark reality is something not often attempted in popular music. Expect to recall...Steinbeck, Fitzgerald...even Nathaniel West as you sink into the groundlevel splendor of this unusual release" (Folk And Acoustic Music Exchange)
REVIEWS FOR RUPERT WATES
"Truly gripping lyrics with great themes and troubling, witty messages. An inspirational artist" (Leith FM Radio Scotland)
"A new and unique songwriter/musician already in the front ranks by dint of timeless work" (Folk And Acoustic Music Exchange)
"A delight to listen to...These are songs crafted with care and imbued with sincerity and conviction" (Britsound Radio New Jersey)
"A songwriter of the very highest quality" (Musik Online, Germany)

Lyrics

Sally's Farm

Written By: Rupert Wates

I never knew my papa
He walked out on my mama so she gave me to her sister
Who resented my existence and didn't need
Another hungry mouth to feed
I loved my uncle Joey
He was my only friend until the day he tried to kiss me
He said "Now don't resist me
Just get on my knee"
And then he made me bleed
All I ever wanted was to be the kind of girl
You see in glossy magazines with flowers in their hair
I used to dream of rainbows
Now I dream in black and white
But there's still a place that calls to me
A place that's more than all to me
Where I'll be safe from harm
And so I'm going back to Sally's Farm

I worked hard to get to college
Then the back seat of a Chevrolet put paid to my ambitions
I spent the nineteen fifties as a single mom
Against the atom bomb
And then in sixty seven
I read about a place that seemed like heaven in Virginia
Where you work the land in perfect equality
And own no private property
All I ever wanted was to be the kind of girl you see in glossy magazines
With flowers in their hair
We drove down from Chicago
Where all the streets were burning
And on the greyhound next to me
Was a woman who told me she had sons in Vietnam
As we were driving down to Sally's Farm

The sixties ended badly
With all the acid casualties we never had a chance to fly
It wasn't very long before our well ran dry
And both our cows had died
I never cared for rock and roll
The younger kids all told me that I dressed just like a schoolmarm
But someone had to keep alive the hippy dream
And the clean latrine
All I ever wanted was to be the kind of girl you see in glossy magazines
With flowers in their hair
I keep my sense of humor
And I don't allow a tumor or despair to get the best of me
In my dreams I'll always be in my daddy's arms
And we're walking through the gates of Sally's Farm
Walking through the gates of Sally's Farm

For Kathleen Kincaid
(C) Rupert Wates

Days Of Mercy

Written By: Rupert Wates

Daddy lost his job one day
When he wouldn't take a cut in pay
And he couldn't find another place
Even one that paid him less
So he settled into his easy chair
With his dogeared magazines
Until the bank took back our house
While my mama only screamed

When I was a little girl
I had a dream I found a pearl
Hidden in the pocket of my pants
But the pants were full of holes
And when I woke the pearl was gone
And I was only six years old

Hold on tight my mama said
Keep your eyes upon the sun
Put your faith in the road ahead
Days of mercy will surely come
When the world is blown apart
In the eye of the hurricane
Let strength and courage fill your heart
Days of mercy will come again

So we sold up all we owned
And headed east in a touring car
Found a place on a plot of land
Down in windy Arkansas
Daddy worked on a lady's farm
But my mama heard it said
He didn't work that lady's fields
As much as he worked her bed

So she packed a cardboard case
With a single change of clothes
Took the baby on her hip
Told us all to follow close
And we began the long walk home
To the California coast

Hold on tight my mama said (etc)

When I fainted in the heat
Of the Oklahoma sun
Mama led me to a stream
And dipped a cloth to bathe my head
We walked all through New Mexico
And in a migrant workers' camp
I learned all there was to know
About the kindness of the poor

Though the children dressed in rags
They gave us everything they had
Bags of sweets and ready smiles
Fresh tortillas round the fire
In the huts of rusty iron
When the baby started crying

Hold on tight my mama said (etc)

So we finally reached L.A.
Beside a lake in Lincoln Park
A man was standing all alone
Throwing crumbs to feed the ducks
"When you gonna take those children home?"
Asked the man and my mama said
"We just walked two thousand miles
We'll make it yet with a little luck"

Then the man just looked away
Said he guessed his turn had come
And pulled out two dollar bills
Enough to see us right
For a can of pork and beans
And some shelter for the night

Hold on tight my mama said
Keep your eyes upon the sun
Put your faith in the road ahead
Days of mercy will surely come
When the world is blown apart
In the eye of the hurricane
Let strength and courage fill your heart
Days of mercy will surely come

For Jane Adams

(c) Rupert Wates

Dick And Delores (The Loving Kind)

Written By: Rupert Wates

Delores was a baptist child
She dressed in white each Sunday noon
And held the Bible true in every word
When the klansmen burned her church to the ground
She kept her faith deep in her heart
A calm dark pool no trouble ever stirred

Dick was a farm boy from down the dirt road
Who held her hand on a moonlit porch
And danced with her to the blues her brothers played
She loved the blonde hairs on his arm
His kindness and his gentle voice
And married him the day she came of age

And it was proof the day their names were signed
That we were born to love and be loved in kind

At 2 a.m. on a hot June night
They woke to the glare of a flashlight
And three deputies standing at their bedside
Who said "We got a warrant for your arrest
I'm sorry son you better get dressed
And come with us and bring your nigger bride"

In Carolina County it was a crime
For a man to marry out of his kind
It was the only way to keep the race intact
Dolores did five nights in jail
Alone with the rats but they let Dick go
After only one 'cos he was white and she was black

But in a world where the cruel lead the blind
We were born to love and be loved in kind
To honor love and cherish and obey
The loving kind

While King marched on Washington
Dick and Delores lobbied hard
Until the supreme court gave them back their right to love
Then Dick was killed by a hit and run
Dolores raised their only son
Knowing that Dick was waiting in heaven above

Then when some more men came to her door
To ask if she believed it should be law
That a man could choose to wed another man
Then in spite of what the Bible said
How God had left those cities dead
She answered "Yes I do believe he can"

To marry the one you love is not a crime
We were born to love and be loved in kind
To honor love and cherish and obey
The loving kind

For Dick and Mildred Loving

(C) Rupert Wates

Miss Burgoyne And The Old Milwaukee

Written By: Rupert Wates

Now the time lies heavy on my hands
I often walk beside the place
Where the old Milwaukee railroad used to pass
The tracks all torn down long ago
A few planks left from the old depot
Scattered among the weeds and the prairie grass

And in my mind a figure still sits
On a platform in gathering dusk
In the clothes they made before the First World War
Waiting alone for the train to arrive
In a fury of steam and whistle blows
And the conductor holding open the carriage door
The conductor holding open the carriage door

Her name was Edith behind her back
To her face she was Miss Burgoyne
And she lived with her parents in a modest bungalow
Teaching piano to the neighborhood kids
Fifty cents an hour to listen and smile
As we stumbled through our scales and arpeggios

And whether it was her air of reserve
Of her foreign name or her spinster's clothes
Or her college degree class of nineteen twenty eight
But whenever we ran out of games to play
We could always laugh at Miss Burgoyne
And some of her stranger personality traits
Some of her stranger personality traits

It was in the summer of thirty five
As I recall when the change began
And Edith first boarded the Milwaukee train
A ten minute ride to the next stop on the line
There she'd descend and come rain or shine
She'd walk the five miles home again

Three times a week each week for a year
She rode that train alone but why
None of us could ever understand
But I heard it said by others who were there
The conductor was a very handsome man
A brown eyed and very handsome man

So the years flew by Edith's parents died
She sold up and moved away
To Iowa the rumor went with a married man
Others said she died alone
In bitterness and poverty
On a barren farm with intractable land

But in my mind a figure still sits
On a platform in gathering dusk
Waiting alone for the train to arrive
In a fury of steam and whistle blows
And the conductor holding open the carriage door
The conductor holding open the carriage door

For Edith Burgoyne

(C) Rupert Wates

Prayer

Written By: Rupert Wates

Here's to you and here's to me
Here's to all we've ever seen
Here's to all to come and all that's been
Here's to all we've ever shared
Here's to our fathers and here's to our heirs
Here's to all people everywhere
When they haven't got a prayer

Here's to the young and here's to the old
Here's to the body and here's to the soul
Here's to all whose stories are still untold
Here's to the lightness and here's to the weight
Here's to the crooked and here's to the straight
To all who die too soon or are born too late

Here's to our enemies here's to our friends
Here's to the river that never ends
Here's to the sinners here's to the born again
Here's to the black and here's to the white
Here's to the left and here's to the right
Here's to the evening here's to the morning light
Coming into sight

Here's to the rich and here's to the poor
Here's to the sea and here's to the shore
Here's to all people everywhere
When they haven't got a prayer

When they haven't got a prayer

Here's to the cop and here's to the priest
Here's to the west and here's to the east
Here's to all they bring to the feast

Here's to the lion and here's to the lamb
Here's to the beast in the heart of man
Here's to the house on rock and the house on sand

Here's to the heart and here's to the head
Here's to the living and to the dead
Here's to the joy and here's to the tears we shed

Here's to the first and here's to the last
To the future and to the past
Here's to all who ever raised their glass
Anytime we asked

To the moon and to the sun
To all we lost and all we've won
Here's to all people everywhere
When they haven't got a prayer

When they haven't got a prayer

(C) Rupert Wates

Snow In New York

Written By: Rupert Wates

I awoke to stillness and silence
Drew the drapes and looked out like a migrant
Standing at the dockside gazing at the brave new world
From Ellis Island
The streets were empty of even the night hawks
I heard the sound of shovels on the sidewalks
Telling me that I was the only girl
In all of New York

In the dark before dawn the world was asleep
Under blankets of snow so white and so deep
I dressed quickly trying not to make a sound
Buttoned up in my warmest hand me downs
Ready for the snow in New York

Then my brother Lenny was there in the darkness
"Wanna come skating with me down at the Garden?"
My ten year old heart went leaping with joy
That he'd be my partner
So we begged our parents' permission
And the price of the dollar admission
And stepped out into a new born world
No-one had christened

Down on Third Avenue I'd never felt so free
There was only the snow and my brother and me
We pretended we were mountain climbers
With all the rest far below and behind us
It all belonged to us everywhere we walked
In the snow in New York

At Forty Ninth the winds blew cold from the river
My uncovered head was raw and I shivered
Unwilling to complain frightened if I did
I might not be forgiven
We took shelter in a doorway near Macy's
And with an inch between our two faces
Lenny knelt down barehanded in the snow
To tie my shoelaces

Then he took the scarf from his neck and he wrapped it round mine
It was full of his warmth and the color of wine
When I think back to that day in December
It's not the cold or the garden I remember
It's Lenny my brother and me
In the snow in New York

Lenny my brother and me
In the snow in New York

(c) Rupert Wates

Days Of Mercy (edited version)

Written By: Rupert Wates

Daddy lost his job one day
When he wouldn't take a cut in pay
And he couldn't find another place
Even one that paid him less
So he settled into his easy chair
With his dog eared magazines
Until the bank took back our house
While my mama only screamed

When I was a little girl
I had a dream I found a pearl
Hidden in the pocket of my pants
But the pants were full of holes
When I woke the pearl was gone
And I was only six years old

Hold on tight my mama said
Keep your eyes upon the sun
Put your faith in the road ahead
Days of mercy will surely come

So we sold up all we owned
Headed east in a touring car
Found a place on a plot of land
Down in windy Arkansas
Daddy worked on a lady's farm
But my mama heard it said
He didn't work that lady's fields
As much as he worked her bed

So she packed a cardboard case
With a single change of clothes
Took the baby on her hip
Told us all to follow close
And we began the long walk home
To the California coast

Hold on tight my mama said
Keep your eyes upon the sun
Put your faith in the road ahead
Days of mercy will surely come
When the world is blown apart
In the eye of the hurricane
Let strength and courage fill your heart
Days of mercy will come again

When I fainted in the heat
Of the Oklahoma sun
Mama led me to a stream
And dipped a cloth to bathe my head
We walked all through New Mexico
And in a migrant workers' camp
I learned all there was to know
About the kindness of the poor

Though the children dressed in rags
They gave us everything they had
Bags of sweets and ready smiles
Fresh tortilla round the fire
In the huts of rusty iron
When the baby started crying

Hold on tight my mama said (etc)

So we finally reached L.A.
Beside the lake in Lincoln Park
A man was standing all alone
Throwing crumbs to feed the ducks
"When you gonna take those children home?"
Asked the man and my mama said
"We just walked two thousand miles
We'll make it yet with a little luck"

Then the man just looked away
Said he guessed his turn had come
And pulled out two dollar bills
Enough to see us right
For a can of pork and beans
And some shelter for the night

Hold on tight my mama said
Keep your eyes upon the sun
Put your faith in the road ahead
Days of mercy will surely come
When the world is blown apart
In the eye of the hurricane
Let strength and courage fill your heart
Days of mercy will come again

For Jane Adams

(C) Rupert Wates

More Holy Ground

Written By: Rupert Wates

Oh Bobby I see your blue blue eyes
Shining as you lift your head to me
And kiss the blade of your sword
So proud astride your horse's back
Your white face at the head of a sea of black
Mustered in haste to defend the Union cause

And while the throng a thousand strong
Rained down flowers and tears and cheered
So loud the bugle and the drum were drowned
It seemed to me you marched on holy ground

Then further back I see the pretty farm
Where we spent our four days honeymoon
Dreaming of the life we'd never lead
Until orders came for you to leave
And take ship for the Carolina coast
Where the rebel army was besieged

You knew the cause was just my love
When black men wore blue uniforms
And stood in line to brave the cannon's rounds
Baptizing with their blood that muddy ground
To break the chains that kept their people bound

Oh the rebels shot you dead my love
And stripped your corpse of watch and rings
And put you on display for all to mock
Then they threw you in a nameless ditch
Beneath the piled up bodies of your men
Honored only by the waves upon the rocks

And now the war is done they come
To offer you a noble tomb
Where you alone would wear the hero's crown
But I know you'd choose your common burial mound
And never could lie in more holy ground

No you never could lie in more holy ground

For Robert Gould Shaw

(C) Rupert Wates 2009

(When I Get Over To) California

Written By: Rupert Wates/Matt Wates

When I get over to California
I'm gonna head for the golden beach
Taking my time for all the things I ever wanted
Beautiful dreams always out of reach

I'm gonna head for the rolling vineyards
Drowning in sweet California wine
Riding my board down where the waves unfurl forever
I'm gonna find me some peace of mind

I'd fly to the moon
If they would only loan me a space craft
I'd sail to the Pole
If I was sure of finding the sun
I'd go anywhere
If I could leave my memories behind me
And the wrongs that I've done

Someday I'll make it to California
I'm gonna walk through that open door
Maybe I'll find it isn't half the things they promised
Maybe I'll find it's all that and more

Maybe I'll find what I'm living for

(C) Rupert Wates

Discography

JOE'S CAFE (bitemusiclimited)
BR12109
Released date: 03 10

Set List

JOE'S CAFE
SALLY'S FARM
MISS BURGOYNE AND THE OLD MILWAUKEE
STAND UP COMEDIANS
THE SKIES OF SOUTH DAKOTA
SNOW IN NEW YORK
A SUNNY AFTERNOON IN THE BRONX
OLD MAN ON A MOUNTAIN
WE REGRET
DARKNESS, DARKNESS
DICK AND DELORES (THE LOVING KIND)
THE VOODOO DOLL
DAYS OF MERCY
PRAYER
JOE'S CAFE (REPRISE)