By Halley Shaw:
Think of the age-old saying, "What's in a name?" For instance, some Buffalonians may remember the gallery on the corner of Elmwood and Forest under a different name, but today it's known as Filigree's Gallery and Boutique. One of the owners, Melissa Campbell, said that the purpose of changing the gallery's name from Nobody's to Filigree's was to take them "out of the underground." Campbell went on to explain, "It was like taking us from being a punk band to being a folk group."
This is a fitting analogy. Filigrees's atmosphere says - in an indoor voice, not a battle cry - "Make your own and just be who you are." The boutique portion is best known for showing and selling a vast collection of eclectic art work, clothing and jewelry by local artisans. Filigree's also has strong ties to music. Other than being a shop for local artists by local artists, Filigree's often lends its small stage to a large amount of local talent including musicians, dancers and DJs. The boutique carries LPs from local bands as well.
In addition, there is a weekly ritual that the art space has had for three years-an event that is far different from what other local galleries have to offer. Every Friday night, from 6:30 PM to 11:00 PM, Filigree's holds a karaoke night that is hosted by Blue Lazer (Tim Sentman).
For a suggested two dollar donation, both die-hard fans and wide-eyed novices can become what Campbell calls an "instant rock star." But the karaoke night is not just an off-beat means of raising money. Aside from bringing new people into the boutique and gallery, owners and operators Melissa Campbell and Mike Sentman hold the karaoke night as another way of bringing people together. In fact, both Campbell and Sentman along with their powerhouse of a host have been known to rock the mic themselves. "You're singing, but you're singing with everyone who knows your song," stated Campbell.
Any brave newcomer who wants to sign up and sing is made to feel at home. Host Tim Sentman will remind shy first-time singers that "no one bombs karaoke." The audience, whether big or small, usually encourages, applauds and, more often than not, dances along with each singer. The Friday night sing-along session has a group of welcoming regulars which includes local artists, up-and-coming musicians, college students, school teachers and nearby neighbors. Some of the cast of characters have always had a strong urge to 'oke while others are converts. Tony, a regular who is known for his array of signature songs from Simon and Garfunkel to Black Sabbath, recently retold the tale of his first karaoke night. "I said that there was no way that I was getting on that stage. But after I did it, I wanted to do it again. It's like crack." It is understandable that getting in front of the Filigree's crowd can be addictive. Between the kind company and the avaunt-garde ambiance, it's the best high you can ask for at the end of the work week.
Know that if you attend Filigree's karaoke night, stage fright, sore throats and "they don't have my song," are only valid excuses until the end. The last song always sung by all left under Filigree's roof, no ifs, ands or "but I have to go home" about it. Filigree's has never been about exclusivity, so it is no surprise that everyone has to be on stage for the final tune. The mandatory participation of the last song reflects the very nature of Filigree's. It is never about who sings the best or who has the best stage persona. It is about everyone involved. Everyone has a part. Big or small, bass or soprano, Leslie-Gore-quiet or Mike-Patton-loud, all are made to feel as if they deserve a moment in the spotlight.