Monday, May 28, 2007

The Long Holiday Weekend

Joan came with me to see Isaac Mizrahi at Joe's on Friday night. Isaac must have sensed she was in the room because he kept talking about shoes which always makes Joan animated.

On Saturday I saw Sons of William and Griffin House. Both rocked, which isn't surprising because Sons of William were Griffin House's backing band, so if the one rocked, it followed that the other would. In scientific circles this is known as Peterson's Principle Of Backing Bands. William himself joined on keyboards for a couple of songs as well. And the hot bassist in Sons of William switched to lead guitar for Griffin House because she was wearing Superman underwear which made it possible for her to do anything.

Next up Saturday was Orquesta Tipica Fernandez Fierro, a group from Brazil which depletes the population measurably whenever they tour. Seriously, they're a full tango orchestra so, it was as if an entire town had set up on the stage.

And then Sunday night, Kiki and Herb played their last show of the run at Joe's, a sort of warm-up for their appearance at the Tony Awards and subsequent tour. Their show is called "The Year of Magical Drinking" and if anything ever qualified as a "you-had-to-be-there" sort of thing, this is it.

And I was. I would have gotten out of town, but, frankly, the holiday snuck up on me. Oh, well. There's nothing like driving around New York City when no one else is . .

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Love to Love You

The simple peasant folk of Balthrop, Alabama played at Red Hook's Bait and Tackle Sunday night. I was a little late because Matthew and Hillary were locked out of the apartment and I found them sitting on my stoop like I was a locksmith or something. "Nice to see you, but I'm going to Balthrop," said I and left them to their fate.

Check out Balthrop's new video on their home-page and start looking forward to the album release party June 24th at Bait and Tackle. I saw an advance copy today and it's so pretty you're gonna want to frame it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

On the way to Mac's birthday party, I ended up on a LIRR train full of Mets and Yankees fans constructively debating the merits of their respective teams. It turns out that, depending on how you look at it, each team can be seen to suck. Such lively engagements can make some fans weary . . .

Monday, May 21, 2007

High on a Mountain

Ollabelle played Joe's Friday night and the whole experience made me sort of wistful and nostalgic in the best way.

When I was nine, my Mom, my sister and I lived on the second and third floor of an apartment at the corner of Oakdale and Racine in Chicago. The third floor had two massive rooms--one with a huge arched ceiling. My sister and I shared the large bedroom, and the bands Mom managed rehearsed in the room with the arched ceiling. Later, our bedrooms were moved into the arched room and we shared our living space with the musicians. My bedroom door at that time was a draped American flag.

Mom had two room-mates, Annie and Rosalyn. Rosalyn was a teacher, I think, and she was also gay--or so Mom said--I don't really remember any of her girlfriends. In any case, she didn't live with us as long as Annie. Annie was in one of the bands that Mom managed, "Rocco and The Hat." Rocco was Annie's boyfriend. He had curly dark hair and a big bushy beard and moustache. Annie was 'The Hat." Rocco went on to compose the music for Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? and a couple of David Mamet movies. Annie married Elliot, who Mom had also dated for a while and he ended up writing for Saturday Night Live in the 80's. I lost touch with everyone after I moved to Virginia--except once when we went to see Annie in Grant Park. "I'm Michael," I said when she saw me and she held me like a lost child. After that, I never saw her again.

None of which has anything to do with Ollabelle, except that the music that they played Friday night took me back to lying in bed on the other side of the plywood walls and the American flag in the room at the top of the stairs.

My sister has this to add:
"Rosalyn never had a gal around when we were there. Years later Mom claimed that Ros made a pass at her and that was why she was gay. Mom also said the girl she roomed with in college made a pass at her and that she used to hide in the closet whenever the roommate entered . . . I think Mom was convinced no one could be in her presence and not make a pass at her . . . Who knows? Annie tried to teach us to tap dance and I found out I had two left feet, so instead she made me a little Bo-peep dress (which I still have as a costume for some child someday), and you did pretty well as I remember. At least, she suggested to Mom that you should get lessons (I remember being jealous about that). I remember your flag and that we always made sure that one of us was awake before Mom to clean up the “gifts” that the cat left in the kitchen every AM. I remember the music and the smells, which made my first pot smoking experience a nostalgic one, and I remember the late nights at the bars locking myself into the women’s bathrooms till whatever band was onstage sang the “Tigger” song. It still makes me smile and look occasionally to see if I have a spring to bounce on behind . . . "

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Funnies

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Glow of Each Other's Majestic Presence

Today was a hard one and I'll have more to say about that later. Still, I'd been looking forward to this evening ever since I first started drawing at Joe's and checked out the calendar of upcoming events; I just had no idea how much I'd need it when it came.


First up was Suzanne Vega, playing a bunch of new songs from the--as yet unreleased--Beauty and Crime as well as pretty much all of those other ones you want to hear if you go to see Suzanne Vega. Strangely enough, it's the third time I've seen her this year--she played with the Brooklyn Symphony and she performed Luka at Joe's a few weeks back during a benefit.

AnnaCatherine once asked me what movie made me want to move to New York and I had to answer that movies had nothing to do with it. Music never really entered in to it either. To be honest, I never wanted to live in New York until I moved here and now I don't see how I can ever leave. Still, as Suzanne Vega played her new songs--many ruminations on the city in the years since 9-11--and I remembered all of the music of hers that I've listened to since Jim gave me her eponymous album back in Chicago all those years ago, I found myself thinking that the Vega viewpoint might just have been a siren call I didn't understand until I got here.

By the way, she's performing the club version of Tom's Diner nowadays, so you can all relax.

Next up was They Might Be Giants celebrating the release of their new album, The Else. Sure, I get it now; they're a terrific live band and they put on quite the show, funny and quirky and all those adjectives that pile up around them. Anyway, John Hodgman introduced them and he's pretty much an expert on all things, so you don't have to take my word for it . . .

Monday, May 14, 2007


So, I spent a long weekend in Amsterdam with a couple of my cousins and a few other guys celebrating Chris's bachelor party. It was educational and I feel I've grown.

When it was all over but the end credits, the woman who worked at our hotel held the cab door open for Dave and Chris and I on our way to the airport and said, "now go home an get some rest."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Springtime in New York


Light a candle, open a window to let in the breeze, unbutton your shirt a little and then click on Matririo's web site.

Her new album is called Primavera En Nueva York which has something to do with pasta. Wait. No, it doesn't. It's about love. In fact, according to her press, Matririo is trying to "recreate the eternal search for happiness in love" with an album of thematically linked songs.

Like you do.

She's pretty compelling when you watch her, all mysterious on the other side of her dark glasses and snaking her arms around like she's casting spells.

At any rate, she made her New York debut tonight at Joe's . . .

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Being There

Lately, the weather's changing like a non-sequitor. It's Spring. It's Summer. It's Fall. Look, cherry blossoms. The wind is blowing. The sun is warm. Now it's not. Wait, why are we going to Williamsburg?

Oh, right. Balthrop, Alabama played the back room of Monkeytown last night, the new place with the projection screens and the couches, the one that makes it OK to go to Williamsburg; that place is fun. And they brought Scary Mansion. And a bunch of new songs and some pretty polish on the old ones. And I guess something happened to all the regular drummers/keyboard-players/lead-guitarists/pedal-steel players--like they all three tried to walk through a door at the same time and got stuck--because there's a ringer at the kit and he's thumping away.

Anyway that was fun and you really need to be there the next time they play somewhere. Mary.

Also, I got to live out my Mal Evans fantasy.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spring Cleaning

I'm about a month late with these, but better late than never . . .

João Donato played Joe's last month. Download his Sugar Cane Breeze here.

By the way, I've said it before, but the Joe's Pub site is full of special goodies like videos of the artists, mp3s and exclusive interviews. I'm a big fan of music blogs and John has turned the site into a nice mix of information and content. Also, we're working on putting together a section of my drawings and Kevin's photos . . .

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Reader


Yesterday, as I was on my way in to the city, there was this woman sitting across from me reading a Margaret Atwood book.

It was nice talking to you tonight and happy anniversary.

Looking For Someone To Dance With

Michael Penn played three shows at Joe's over the weekend, finishing up last night.

Tonight, on the way home, I stopped at Best Buy and bought his new compilation album. I bought the only copy, so don't look for it at The Best Buy down on Broadway near Houston.

"Musician Finds Second Act--And Second Life"--CNN.Com