Bostonista Rocks: Oscar Night at Club Passim

Sunday evening in Cambridge was a sleety mess—which is why we thank the heavens for cozy neighborhood clubs like Club Passim. We settled in quite nicely under the dim lights of this 50-year-old venue renowned for its buzzing folk scene. We went, Oscars-be-damned, to see Berklee songstresses Kristen Cifelli and Kate Klim. The place was almost full by all reasonable estimates, and it seemed as if everyone knew one another, like a music-venue version of Cheers.

“Kate and I have nightmares that nobody shows up,” says Cifelli, smiling at the solid turnout. “So, we’re in a good dream.”

Cifelli plays a much more modernized version of folk music—she serenades with the same regretful twang of country and the romantic mourning so emblematic of the singer-songwriter genre. She sang to us about sad cities, taking a chance on love, and being surrounded by loneliness. We, however, were surrounded by plates of vegan peanut curry and Mexican bean concoctions that people had been ordering from the neighboring Veggie Planet kitchen.

We couldn’t help wonder what it was like for a performer to bleed their heart onstage, only to look out upon a bunch of people chowin’ down on vegetables. Cifelli must have read our mind, because in the midst of our pondering she looked out from the stage and asked the crowd in her best Beantown dialect, “How is everyone’s pizza? Gahlicky?”

Klim, a petite and fair-skinned gal with the face of a young girl and the voice of a seasoned vocalist, grew up surrounded by a piano and Carole King, Lennon, and Paul Simon records, and started playing when she was five. We wish we could say the same for ourselves, (our parents rolled with, um, Ottmar Liebert and the Gipsy Kings) but were contented to be wistfully jealous of Klim’s stupefying voice.

Songs of lost love and estrangement aside, Klim proved to have a sense of humor when she played her own dirty version of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid—suffice to say her version involved calling an ex’s new girlfriend a slew of unneighborly names and doesn’t forget to mention his three-inch…well, you get the idea.

A little heartache, a pinch of regret, some dirty jokes, and a veggie burrito later we were asking ourselves, “Oscar who?”

—Anne Vickman