NYC and What Transpired Part Three - August 18th through Sept 2nd, 2017
Liza of The Liza Colby Sound texted me. “Dude you’re in NYC? Go check out my homie’s band Revel in Dimes at The Mercury Lounge tonight.” If you’ve seen Liza’s band and dig rock n’ roll you’d be hard pressed not to take her advice.
I found myself on a humid night, clouds puffed up and ready to burst outside the smokey entrance of The Mercury Lounge. The circles started swimming in my head when I saw “Stone Giant” was also on the bill. A Boston-based band out of Berklee, I knew some of their history. Most notably their show at Uncle Buck’s in Salisbury, North Carolina where I performed as FITF with Andrew and Tim otherwise known as Troop and Looney backing me up two summers in a row in 2014/2015. Buck Howard is a dear friend of mine to this day and it was a surprise to see a band with that connection on this bill I randomly was advised to attend.
Here’s a picture of Stone Giant and I doing the famed “Uncle Buck Salute.” To perform the salute you must place one hand (usually the left I believe) over one eye and raise your other hand’s middle finger. It is a way of saying, “I F$%*!&@ love you!” to those you respect. I haven’t seen it executed in any other fashion but I imagine in the appropriate context it can function the other way.
Fast forward to Revel in Dimes taking the stage. They ripped into their own rendition of “Jumper on the Line” by R.L. Burnside and I knew there was no place I’d rather be. It smoked me through and through. The groove was all there as they pulsed their way through covers and originals designed to pump you up and go mad. Eric Simmons on guitar plays it cool and delta. Premo with his Hendrix - Band of Gypsy’s look plays his bass like an old soul with a harmonica in brace wrapped around his neck, occasionally stepping to the mic for a blues break down. Mr. Washington on the kit seems to be pre-programmed on lock. “It’s just there,” as a Brit would say. “Just. There.” There’s no putting it on or working it up, the groove opens and hits. Kia on the mic gave me goosebumps in every song. She was fearless and danced like a freak, slamming her tambourine on her silver laced thighs, wiggling and skidding her feet possessed, tweaking her delay pedal for a soulful high belt injecting some psychedelia on their blues rock palette. I was all in.
It was the build up in their ballad, I’m assuming it was called, “When You Were Mine” (not the Prince tune) that rattled me. I was all alone at this show mind you. I had my tourist backpack on and a tall boy of Pabst in my hand hollering between every song. Later on I fanboy-ed my way to meet the crew outside, the clouds had finally burst. Mist, rain, and cigarette smoke surrounded us all huddling into an inlet on the sidewalk as we rapped about R.L. Burnside and righteous tunes. (Revel in Dimes onstage below)
Jump to the next night and I’m with my friend Carolyn after she says, “I have two tickets to Suzanne Santo, it’s at The Mercury Lounge, wanna go?” “Umm, yes I do Carolyn, yes I do.”
Correct, two nights in a row at Mercury. Do yourselves all a favor and check out Santo’s debut solo album, “Ruby Red.” Produced by Butch Walker! If you dig Bonnie Raitt, real alt. country rock n’ roll, whiskey tinged vocal lines and violin you will love this. The tunes are constructed in cohesion as deep as a Petty album, every piece with purpose. Her band was always in service to the song. Talking to Blaine Stark post-show, her guitar player and Los Angeles engineer/producer he said, “I had heard Suzanne’s voice on recording and thought there was an effect on it, then I met her during the first rehearsal and realized her voice is that real and raw, that’s her actual voice. I couldn’t believe it.”
During the last song the cords on Santo’s neck stood out and her eyes were glazed in tears. She looked to her left to the man with the Gibson SG and he seemed to nearly break.
Afterwards Carolyn and I met a new friend, Big Earl, a stage hand at Terminal 5 who came up and introduced himself. We talked about the show but then he started showing us pictures of the baby deer he takes care of, Ellie, across the pond in New Jersey. You read that correctly.
Carolyn and I topped off the night at Union Pizza Works in Bushwick. Go. Here. Probably the best pizza I’ve had since living in Rome. No joke. It didn’t hurt that the owner and cooks were all off-the-boat Italians. The owner even delivered us a homemade take on flan after we scoffed the perfect brick oven pie. “I never make, you try.” He had a taste as well. “Yes! I fucking rule,” he exclaimed. Yes, you do amico.
“You want a shot?”
One shot of Bullet Rye. Two minutes later…
“You want a shot?” Pronounced “Djoo wunt eh sshut?”
“Uhhh, sure!” This cycle continues. We talk about where we’re from and what we do on a daily basis.
“Oh yeah man, Boston! I do the uh, how you say? Mar.. Mar.
“Yes! The marathon, every year.” He says “marathon” marrrrathon with a solid “r” tongue roll.
“That’s what I do man. I run, I cook, I eat, I drink, I depressed, I run, I cook, I eat, I drink, I depressed… you want a shot?”
I nod, we all laugh.
My adventure never lets up. The circles of coincidence and random happenstance fire on all cylinders.
Rough Trade records - Aug. 25th. I purchase two vinyls after much deliberation - Son Cubano NYC (Cuban Roots New York Spices 1972-1982) and from the used bin a rare compilation album of lost b-side Stax soul tunes. I notice a line forming for the club inside the record shop and wish I was there for the show. The Flamin’ Groovies were about to perform. Yes, THE Flamin’ Groovies, “the forerunners of punk rock.”
I hang out outside eavesdropping on the cigarette smoker’s conversations. A Fire in the Field sticker sits in the palm of my hand and I’m looking for a spot on the brick wall to make our mark when a shorter man with a dirty blonde bowl cut sporting a solid green camo jacket says, “Want to go into the show?”
I turned to him suspicious and say, “Excuse me?”
“You want to go to the show?” And he shows me a ticket in his hand. “I’ve got some place else I have to be.”
I thank him profusely, put in my Etymotic ear plugs held by my keychain and rock out to The Flamin’ Groovies. The show kick ass and afterward I ran into the bartender (not the Italian owner) of Union Pizza Works where Carolyn and I ate two nights previous.
Come on with me now to Le Poisson Rouge in the village. Those who know me well are aware of my super fandom of all things David Lynch. When I saw “Silencio” was performing on Sunday, Aug. 27th I shook my head in slo-mo as I purchased a ticket online. How could this all be going down in two weeks? These incredible shows, people, everything. Everything, everywhere, all the time. Gary Clark Jr. was telling the truth when he said, “New York City going to my head.”
Aug. 27th was already such a full day. I had already played acoustic guitar (“Manic Depression” by Hendrix and “The Stomp” by FITF) on the street for two homeless guys outside the Whole Foods in Times Sq. I was tired and sun beaten from hanging with my sisters in Central Park and at The Met Museum (Egyptian exhibit was the sheeeeiiiit), and having Sam Moore film the now famous, in FITF circles, acoustic live performance in Bryant Park where I ended up playing for these little kids who came up in the middle of the live feed.
(Photo by Mallory M.)
But there I was, third in line at Le Poisson Rouge meeting two fine ladies, Michelle and Jane, talking all things Lynch and music. Turns out they know where I’m from in NH, Jane going up that way every year, seeing festivals in NH, following the beloved jam bands in the area, etc.
The night led to mind expanding conversation and nerd factoids about David Lynch movies. The crowd was thin but attentive and excited. The band in true Lynchian fashion traversed the ether of the black lodge and the blue rose. It is hard to put down in words. Lynch’s work invokes such a personal meaning for each viewer that every song brought about some abstract revelation. Maybe this is too heady, probably is. At the end of the day it came down to badass musicians executing their material.
I wish I could describe every detail of this night. I wish I could describe the rest of my time in NYC to you in hard hitting bright and beautiful descriptions. Another week of adventure took place. The Wednesday where I unveiled “Bossman” at Hell Phone in Brooklyn thanks to Mike Geffner’s The Inspired Word was yet to happen as I sat watching Silencio perform.
I want you to see the amazing musicians, comedians, and spoken word performers I saw at The Inspired Word Open Mic. I want you to taste the hanger steak I had at PJ Clarke’s with Colin (he had the prime rib burger!) and our high school friend Casey. I want you to go PJ’s - a lone wolf restaurant from the 19th century amongst a forest of skyscrapers, waiters in black pants and white tuxedo shirts and ties. Frank Sinatra used to hang at PJ Clarke's and Buddy Holly proposed to his wife within five minutes of meeting her at this very spot. I want you to read the New York Post article about the Hasidic husband and wife that practice extreme Judaism by day and run an open marriage, and sexually devious and exploratory Tinder account at night. I want you to hop the L Train from Brooklyn to Manhattan and feel the pressure of the ocean water all around you, seeping through cracks, nearing a total shutdown and major renovation project as a result of the damage caused by 2012’s hurricane Sandy. I want you to see and hear the extremist Christians in the heart of Time’s Sq screaming that we need to fear god and beg forgiveness for our hedonistic ways. I want you to see Doc. Brown’s doppelgänger driving the replica Delorian from Back to the Future. I want you to see the cockroaches surrounding trash piles outside behemoth buildings. I want you to see the Scientology headquarters filled with sad young white men sitting at a welcome desk with a library of L. Ron Hubbard science fiction classics on display behind them. I want you to meet many of the sexually repressed twenty something hipsters living in Williamsburg and Bushwick who escaped extremely conservative upbrinings. Their overt sexual attitudes and high school like commentary whole heartedly absorb the anonymity and experimentation of the infinite big apple. Everything. Everywhere. All the time.
On my final night in NYC I attended a showing of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s new film, “Endless Poetry.” Colin and I hit up Syndicated Bar & Kitchen - a movie theater with dinner and booze service set up amphitheater style. It was appropriate to close the circle on this night, which happened to be the final showing in the city.
The protagonist of the film is suffering an existential crisis as he tries to navigate adulthood. He weeps to his higher self, “What am I doing, what is the point? What is the meaning of life!?”
Jodorowsky himself appears by the side of the main character and holds him close and shouts inside a guttural whisper, “LIFE! THERE IS NO MEANING TO LIFE! YOU MUST GO OUT AND LIVE IT!”
(Photo from "Endless Poetry" by Alejandro Jodorowsky and ABKCO Films Released 2017 All Rights Reserved)
Peace n' love,
Thursday, Sept. 28th, 2017