Wendy Beckerman at the Rudyard

By Paul Moffett

In New York City, the trend in singer/songwriters seems to be running in the direction of women singer/songwriters. Witness the success of Jill Sobule, 22 Brides and Joan Osborne (She made it there, not here.)

Wendy Beckerman is a New Yawk singer/songwriter with a couple of CDs under her belt. She is on the road promoting those recordings, building a fan base, and, perhaps, working toward the next step up the musical ladder. She stopped at the Rudyard for an early Wednesday night show in mid-March.

Her songwriting style and delivery are firmly in the tradition of the East Coast folk music scene, particularly the Fast Folk contingent in New York City. (Fast Folk is a magazine that includes a folk music record with each issue.)

Pulling songs mainly from her current CD, Marina's Owl, Beckerman kept a smallish crowd transfixed with her clear delivery and near-flawless finger-picking. Her tunes are reminiscent of Dar Williams, recently in town with Joan Baez, in that they are personal, intense and come straight out of Beckerman's life and upbringing.

"Marina's Owl" is a look at a woman who has adopted an owl. The owl considers itself to be part of her family and is unaware of its ability to fly, even though Marina continues trying to teach to fly.

"The Weasel," which Beckerman described as a "researched" song – she used the dictionary and a field guide to animals – presents a very unflattering portrait of an unfaithful man and his paramour, who is characterized as a rather putrescent rat.

Beckerman belongs to a group of songwriters who have a standing rule: write a song a week. This was hard, she explained, as there are many times when both the urge and ability to write are absent. While no one else would ever hear most of the songs written under this deadline, she said, now and then, there would be a keeper. The romantic Mango Moon was such a song, written under the challenge to write a song with the word 'mango' in it.

Her second set, primarily of material from her first album, By Your Eyes, was rather more rough than the first, as she forgot a lyric or two here and there and had a couple of false starts. It only made her seem more human and more at home at the Rudyard.

Marina's Owl has been getting airplay on WFPK FM 92. It is available from Great Divide Records, 178 W. Houston St. Ste. 9, New York, NY 10014.