Danielle Alderman: The Open Mic Opportunist.
As part of our partnership with Philly Beer Scene magazine, we’re documenting Philly’s relationships between music and beer. For the most recent issue of Philly Beer Scene, G.W. Miller III hangs out with Danielle Alderman, the musician who champions local talent.
Danielle Alderman used to sell office furniture. It wasn’t a bad job but she spent her days trekking around the tri-state region, hawking desks and cabinets to commercial clients.
In the evenings, she pursued her passion – music. She performed around the region, at open mics and on main stages. She hosted several weekly open mic nights over the years, including one at the Triumph Brewing Company in Old City.
Then, in December 2010, things fell into place for her. The marketing manager job opened up at Triumph, where they present live music seven nights per week. She applied, was accepted and has been there ever since.
“I finally found a job where I can combine what I like to do,” she says. “Music and beer kind of go together.”
The Point Pleasant, NJ native has been performing since she was in the second grade, when she started taking classical piano lessons. She accompanied her church choir, and later played the clarinet in her high school’s marching band.
She went on to study music at West Chester University. During her sophomore year, her friends began teaching her to play guitar. She followed up by learning from the Internet. Now, the guitar is her primary instrument.
“I can’t write for piano,” she says. “It just doesn’t feel right. It feels right when I write for guitar.”
Her music, which she performs under the stage name Dani Mari, is sultry, soulful and deeply personal – about relationships and perceptions of women in society.
She entered the Philly music scene by performing at open mics at the old Grape Street Pub in 2005. She made her way around to National Mechanics, Tritone, The Fire, Lickity Split, Chaplin’s in Royersford and elsewhere.
“Open mics were a great creative outlet for me, a place to experiment,” she says. “A lot of my music was influenced by people I saw on the open mic scene.”
She dropped her first album, Impulsive, in 2010 and toured up and down the East Coast, even performing at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin.
Last year, she and friend Todd Mendelsohn started their latest project, a dream-pop band called Lockets.
“We met each other on the open mic scene,” Alderman says. “Todd plays electric guitar with loop pedals. It sounds like something that would be on the soundtrack of a Molly Ringwald movie.”
It was hard working together at first, as their styles were so divergent and Alderman had been performing as a solo artist for more than six years.
“I would work on lyrics and vocal melodies and he would say, ‘No, no, it’s not going to work!’” Alderman recalls.
They’re in harmony now. Mendelsohn crafts the patterns to the songs and Alderman writes the lyrics and vocal melodies, with both bending to make it work.
She still performs as a solo artist. This summer, she’ll host and perform at a monthly music festival at FDR Park in South Philadelphia. And she still frequents the open mic nights. Sometimes she performs and other times, she listens for inspiration while sipping an IPA.
“I’ve grown to be a better beer person,” she says. “Working at Triumph has made my palette grow.”