Until Poetry Jam is back at Lizard Lounge, Robinson offers a teasing taste at Lilypad
Spoken-word fans don’t yet have the weekly Poetry Jam and Jeff Robinson Trio back at Lizard Lounge on Sunday nights, but they can get their Jeff Robinson fix monthly at Lilypad in Inman Square.
The jazz musician appears with poet and singer Iyeoka Okoawo at 7 p.m. Wednesday and has additional appearances planned for April and May. But those are 45-minute, stripped-down shows. The Sunday events he curated dating back to 1997 at the Lizard Lounge included a full, competitive slam, a featured poet with backing by the Jeff Robinson Trio and an open-mic period.
The nights ended, along with other indoor entertainment, during a March 2020 coronavirus lockdown.
The Lilypad appearances don’t preclude a return to the Lizard Lounge for Poetry Jams, which Robinson said Sunday he hoped would come soon. He credited lounge owner Charles Christopher and his Cambridge Eats and Beats group of restaurants and music clubs for prioritizing safety in the face of a pandemic, and he said the same staffing issues slowing the reopening of Lizard Lounge and Christopher’s Restaurant could be seen throughout the area.
“The club will reopen,” Robinson said. “And when the club reopens, I’m excited to get started back.”
In mid-March, Christopher said Cambridge Eats and Beats was still “ways away from Lizard Lounge,” even though the Cambridge Common restaurant was open upstairs and his Toad bar had seen a limited reopening. “It’s why we only have three days open at Toad … because we just don’t have the humans.”
Good response to Toad was encouraging because it showed “people have been dying to get out and listen to some good music,” Christopher said. But he’s about 20 staffers short of having his businesses reopen fully.
At the Cantab Lounge in Central Square, a Poetry Night series began Wednesday under the guidance of Dawn Gabriel, drawing some faces familiar from the Boston Poetry Slam that ran there from 1992 until the pandemic arrived, some new people and some old friends. Attendance was capped at 75 percent of the Slam’s standing-room-only crowd. “I’ve missed this so much,” one reader said upon taking the stage after a several-year absence. Another joked that the basement performance space of the Cantab, which was refurbished and reopened in December under new ownership, was “too clean.”