Mendelson seemed a little shocked when hands went up across the room.
Yet while it may not be characteristic of the crowds at many bars these days, it's a direct reflection of the type of people frequenting the Writer's Hang on the first Thursday of every month for the past nine years.
Founded by musician and former Hoboken resident Scott E. Moore, the Writer's Hang performance series has attracted a loyal following of fans for almost a decade, with its intimate atmosphere, unique format, and affable host.
A musical dinner party
Moore, an accomplished singer-songwriter whose music blends soul, modern folk, jazzy-blues and Americana, was, of course, one of the people who raised his hand.
"My collection is down to 100 from 1000," he said, adding that he only recently largely scaled down his LP collection.
Over the years, Moore has introduced audiences at the Goldhawk to over 175 musicians from all over the United States and across the globe.
"Everybody's got a friend who's a record geek, who you ask, 'What should I listen to?' and they'll turn you on to something," he said. "I'm kind of like that guy, but with live music."
At each month's performance, Moore trades songs and stories with invited guests like Mendelson, who described her music as "pop with a tinge of R&B."
"It's palatable to big audiences but edgy enough so people who don't like mainstream will accept it," said Mendelson, who was just signed at Ryko records.
A few weeks ago she and Moore shared the stage with Ontario-born Rob Szabo and Leicester, England native James Maddock.
The cozy back room allows for a good amount of musician collaboration and audience interaction. Moore described the concerts as "a musical dinner party."
"The intimacy is the magic of it," Moore said.
Old cushy couches, plush velvety chairs, lava lamps, and retro clocks are part of the décor that adds to that musical dinner party feel.
"It's like being in somebody's cool house," said Moore.
Like all good hosts, Moore still gets last-minute jitters.
"I still worry if people are going to come out," Moore said. "I'm not nervous about playing - that's like breathing to me. I'm nervous as a host."
People did, of course, turn out, as they have been for the past nine years.
Union City resident Teresa Stack is one of the loyal listeners who has been coming out for a number of years. "It's always worth it," she said. "Sometimes it's even brilliant."
Entertainer, interviewer, and matchmaker
As host of performance series, Moore is part entertainer, part interviewer, and part musical matchmaker.
A singer and songwriter himself, Moore plays his new material alongside his guests. Last week he played some songs from his upcoming CD, tentatively titled Anybody's Game.
One of those songs was "Nobody Loves You Like Me," a beautiful ballad that includes lyrics like "I know angels come down. Why else would you be around? I don't know what I did to be given such a gift."
With a voice that is sometimes smooth and tender, sometimes raw and raspy, and always soulful, Moore's songs do what real songs are supposed to - they tell stories.
And he also gets great stories out of his fellow musicians, channeling his broadcast background, where he was a producer and director at VH1, writing documentaries about musicians such as Bonnie Raitt and Smokey Robinson.
But he doesn't just ask questions and keep the music flowing, he also gets the creative juices flowing. "There are nights where people who have never met each other play together," he said. "Sometimes I try to play matchmaker in a weird way."
He said one of those instances occurred when he put together Mike Viola with Jim Boggia - two songwriters whose high regard for the pop of the past is reflected in the melodies of their music. Moore sounded like a proud parent when he said that the two wound up playing 30-plus shows this year as a result of it.
Keeping a venue for creativity in town
These days Hoboken is not the artists' haven that it was back when Moore started the Hang. Back then, the Goldhawk was the Liquid Lounge, and the first "listening room-style" performances were actually in an exhibition space.
Over the years, many artists moved out, but local forces have worked to preserve outlets for musicians. Goldhawk owner Fran Azzarto is one of them. Azzarto and partners Al Rudolph and Mike Farantinos took over the Liquid Lounge six years ago.
Azzarto said keeping the Writer's Hang at his bar was a "no-brainer."
Azzarto does admit that it's not always easy to attract audiences for live music in Hoboken. "It's hard work being a music venue in this town," he said.
A musician himself, Azzarto plays drums with the band The Faves. He has lived in Hoboken for over 17 years, and has seen how the music scene has changed in his almost two decades in town.
"It's not as easy as it used to be," he said, recalling the days when Hoboken had a big bohemian community, when he and other artists could afford the rents in town.
"It used to be thriving every night of the week," he recalled. "We all lived here. We could all afford to live here. We played together and it was fun."
Though the artists that play with Moore aren't always locals, the Writer's Hang continues to conserve that creative community feeling.
Folk rockers Sally Spring and Dave Crossland join Scott E. Moore for the next installment of the Writer's Hang on April 5 at the Goldhawk. Moore and the Writer's Hang were recently featured in the acclaimed Sundance Channel documentary "Keeping Time: New Music from America's Roots." To see a clip of the documentary or to learn more about Moore and the Writer's Hang, visit www.scottemoore.com.
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