Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This is a Moment: Julie Corbalis at MTK Tavern, Mount Kisco

By Patrick J. Walsh

Little flashes of images spark like photos tossed across a table, and sounds mix awkwardly as I try to focus on the topic at hand.

On the stage at the far end of the room, there is a vision, a voice, a melody; at a nearby table, the chatter and clatter of a small party enjoying a late dinner is punctuated by vigorous applause at the conclusion of each song.

At one point, an inopportune cheering erupts in response to a goal scored in an NHL playoff game, which is transmitted to the revelers at the bar via an overhead television screen. The spontaneous celebration is quickly cut off as abruptly as it begins, out of respect for the live performance taking place a mere few yards away.

Such is the warmth of the moment, and the benevolent mix of performer and venue on this cool night in spring.

And, after a long while in which I have found it difficult to write about music, I have found my way back to one of my favorite subjects.

The occasion: a string of special bookings, the "Women and Music Spotlight Series" at MTK Tavern in Mount Kisco, New York. On this particular evening, the artist is singer-songwriter Julie Corbalis, a long-time favorite in the local area.

The venue's furnishings bespeak its casual elegance: to the left upon entering, there is a long row of square shiny tables, each accompanied by four tall stools, all adorned with a gleaming ebony finish.

To the right, the long, fine-grained wood bar stretches from the entrance to the stage area; and above and behind the bar multiple large TVs are displayed like living fine art prints, each opening a window on a different sporting event.

One screen over from Sidney Crosby leading the Penguins past the Islanders in the NHL playoffs, the Yankees are winning early on the West Coast; on the set above the near end of the bar, my beloved Mets are losing at home.

On this night, though, the triumphs and travails of the games overhead are lost in the friendly, informal, inviting atmosphere of the place.

Julie Corbalis is an ideal performer for such a venue.

In her selection of songs and the smoothness of her presentation, she is well equipped for the challenges of the 'home crowd' context that characterizes intimate settings like MTK Tavern — a milieu that simultaneously ensures respectful support and the expectation of a first-rate performance.

The result is a winning mix of classic rock, folk standards and deep-catalog covers, all wrapped within a leavening blend of Ms. Corbalis' own original songs.

Her wide range of musical fascinations, so well expressed in her choice of songs to cover, is also amply displayed in the breadth of interest and diversity of approach that characterize her songwriting.

The emotional content of her own songs runs the gamut from sardonic admonition (the cleverly written "Should've Stayed Away") to flat-out protest ("Shame on You, Verizon") to loving pastoral ("Belgian Countryside").

Delivered in warm, resonant tones that invite friendly interest, in a setting conducive to active and attentive listening, these are the kinds of songs that shape those moments that brighten the spirit and offer a real hope for a vibrant, sustainable nightlife in these often-quiet suburbs.


Located at 30 East Main Street in Mount Kisco, MTK Tavern features a daily lunch and dinner menu and a wide variety of beverages. The "Women and Music Spotlight Series" continues on Wednesday evenings at 8:30 pm, featuring Kris Cambria on May 15; Ams Palmieri on May 22; and at 7:30 on May 29, a double bill featuring the Knox Sisters and Alison Shearer. Find the full schedule at; 914-218-3334.

For more information about Julie Corbalis, see her official website at

Also by Patrick J. Walsh:
Fred Gillen Jr.: Live in Peekskill and On Disc
That Every Mouth Can Be Fed: Remembering the Extraordinary Desmond Dekker
Earth Day Memories: Greetings From A Small Planet
The Perfect Dive

About the Author:
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Videos by Patrick J. Walsh
Pat's Official Site: Echoes Among the Stars


  1. What a nice review for both the Tavern and Julie. We are so happy that you enjoyed your experience that evening and appreciative of your spreading the word. We strive to highlight local talent, women and all genres of music. We hope people will talk about how much they enjoyed their experience on their drive home, at the office the next day and among their friends......even on their blogs! It truly is our goal to make people feel as good as you did while at MTK and after.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write your kind words.

  2. I really appreciate all your efforts to provide such a pleasant setting for the enjoyment of live music in the local area. It is very encouraging to see the variety of your bookings, and to know that there is such a pleasant, comfortable spot to see quality performers in this area. Bravo!