Friday, February 29, 2008

Keep Me Around


What the . . . ?

It says here that Ben Arthur is playing Joe's Pub on March 8th. Well, It turns out that I have a brother named Ben Arthur and further research reveals that the Ben Arthur playing Joe's Pub and the Ben Arthur who is my brother are one and the same.

But wait, Balthrop, Alabama and I are playing at Joe's Pub too. We're playing on April 18th!

Someone call our Aunt, Bea Arthur, and tell her--she'll be so excited.

Wait. Further research reveals that we are not related to Bea Arthur.

She'll be so disappointed.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Made in the Shade

The Red Stick Ramblers came up from Louisiana and played a set for the New York crowd. They said that there wouldn't be any dancing, but the audience must have disagreed, because there was a lot of touching and twirling when the fiddles played . . .

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


D Train between 59th street and 125th . . .

Sunday, February 24, 2008

So Much Better

Pascal, Lauren and I went to Joe's Friday night to catch the penultimate performance of pop perfection from Mike Viola's February residency at Joe's Pub and I'm here to tell you that a three minute pop-song can say it all and leave you wondering where it went and why it had to go.

Somewhere during the second encore--the one after Viola and his band had been joined by Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood from Fountains of Wayne on a string of impromptu covers, including, but not limited to Naked Eyes' "Always Something There To Remind Me," The Doobie Brother's "Without Love," Steve Miller's "Swing Town," Bryan Adams "Summer of 69" AND "Run To You" and a tease of "Band on The Run" which practically exploded Lauren--K.B.'s husband declared Viola, "The Shit."

When asked to clarify what kind of shit by the artist in question, he declared, "The Good Shit."

Kelly Jones "Ooh La La'd" and shook a tambourine, looked amazing and sang like every man's dream (to quote Schlesinger and Collingwood). After the show, Georgiana tried to book Kelly for a solo gig, but Georgiana ended up here, so I don't know if that's the way it's gonna happen.

Anyway, by the time the show was over, Bernie and Pascal had made their long-anticipated appearance in the On-line edition of the New York Times and we were twelve hours or so away from the print edition hitting the stands.

Now they're famous and we're gonna all play Joe's Pub together in April and Ben's playing in March and Mike Viola's still got one more show left in him before he leaves for California.

Ooh la la, Bop, Ooh la la.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jack and The Pulpits

Annie and Josh have a new band that's all crazy good and stuff. You can download the songs on their MySpace site.

Jonny, you want Dance Area. You want it now.

Hip, Hop and Loop

Howie Day and his pedals and tape loops at Joe's Thursday night. He's a one man band, that one . . .

Next up was Estelle, with a brief visit from John Legend. Kanye was supposed to be there, but he must be in LA getting ready to say something at The Oscars, which is too bad because I wanted to hear this one live . . .

Friday, February 22, 2008

Infinite Combinations

Amber missed the film and ended up staying for three shows.

New York can be like that. One minute you think you're going straight from here to there and then suddenly an attractive left turn appears and before you know it, you're right where you want to be when you didn't know you wanted to be there.

And any day that begins with not knowing John Wesley Harding and his music and then getting to experience it live, is a day that ended better than it began, even if it began pretty good.

Mike Viola joined Wes for a couple of numbers. He's been performing (and will be performing) at Joe's every Friday night in February at 11:30. The shows have been amazing so far and tonight's is going to feature some guest appearances by Fountains of Wayne and Tracy Bonham, so everyone take a nap.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Bernie was enjoying it, sitting there in his beer soaked clothes, but I thought the guy's voice was sort of derivative.

I leaned over to Lauren and whispered, "Thom Yorke called; he wants his vocal mannerisms back."

She whispered back, "Thom Yorke's girlfriend called; she wants her pants back."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oh, Yoko

"Imagine the seventeen year old version of yourself," said Bill during the cab ride home.

"Yeah?" I replied.

"Just imagine him getting to come to Yoko Ono's 75th birthday party."

"Yeah . . . " I said, smiling, as the cab took the turn away from Manhattan back home to Brooklyn . . .

Sean Lennon.

Albert Maysles.

Yoko Ono, Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson performing with Fellini's favorite film, "Bottoms" playing in the background . . .

Monday, February 18, 2008

End Up

Thursday night, End Up records had a party at Castle Anthrax to celebrate the release of Caithlin De Marrais's new single, The Fire. If you want to download the song go here and make it so, but if you do, consider dropping a little money in the bucket for Caithlin's mother's not-for-profit, The Evergreen Network . . .

At the End Up party we all danced and sang and played instruments whether we knew how to play them or not. Therese put down her accordion and played some murder ballads. Andrew knocked out a couple of songs and even I made my New York debut as a singer/songwriter. No one was hurt in the process.

Scott read us a little of his poetry which he'd been polishing all day. He was all gussied up with projections from The Hobbit playing on the wall and a full band accompanying him, making him look like the beatnik we all know he is.

Even Bernie put down his camera and pounded the skins and he's been all musical ever since, writing songs with Lauren, in preparation for their top-secret collaboration. I want to tell you about it, but they swore I'd sleep with the pigeons if I revealed anything . . .

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Also, in general, I don't like to put up anything other than drawings, but this video is practically a drawing even if I didn't do it and the only connection I have to it is that Lauren introduced me to this song after she and Pascal and I went to Michael Leviton And Leah Hayes's party last weekend. It's the video for Michael's song, "Summer's The Worst."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Scarlett Johansson's record label, Rhino Records, held a private listening party at Joe's Pub yesterday to premiere her new album--a song cycle of Tom Waits covers--for a select audience of about 25 folks. The album, produced by Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio, is due in May. Both Johansson and Sitek dropped by to answer some questions after the album played. No photographers were allowed, but no one told me I couldn't draw . . .

At one point during the playing of the album, John wandered in, sat across from me and said, "everyone's really listening at this Listening Party." I looked up, tried to speak but the moment, the music and the mood wouldn't let me, so I went back to my drawing. I guess the other folks in the room were reporters and critics, taste-makers and the like and I expect you'll have to wait until closer to the release date to see what they all think. (Update--no waiting necessary--here's a description from Stereogum who was there.)

As for me, I'm really glad I got to listen to it without any preconceptions because it's a singular work, as close to a cinematic experience--scripted, performed, produced and directed--as I've ever come aurally.

You'll see.


Joe Iconis at Soundcheck from Monday. There's a good interview with Joe here (in MP3 form if you wish to download) and a bunch of YouTube goodness over here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Kristin Schaal was the first person I ever drew performing at Joe's Pub.

She was working on The Cartells over at the Old Drama Department and she invited me to come watch her do a set, so I did and I drew a terrible drawing which she has thankfully forgotten. Later, I sent her another sketch, done from a photograph, and she still throws it up as the icon on her MySpace page occasionally.

In the comments that her friends and fans have written about this drawing, it is noted that the hair is nice, but it doesn't really look like her.

I also ended up drawing a comedy show she hosted with Kurt Braunohler over at Comix--although, I think I was invited to that one by the owner of the club who I met when we were doing The Cartells there. I think he envisioned me sitting in the club and drawing the comedians whenever I wanted, sort of the way it has turned out over at Joe's. I enjoyed it--especially because that first night included David Cross, John Oliver and Michael Showalter--but, I guess, it didn't inspire me to continue. I can't really lose myself in the rhythm of comedy the way that I can with music.

Or maybe it was the room. Joe's has a lot of character; it's fun to draw and draw in. Comix feels a little like a performance hall in a shopping mall; it's a tad too corporate for me. It's a fine place and they get wonderful performers; it just lacks the lived-in look, the funky odor and the comfort. Joe's feels like home; Comix felt like I was visiting.

Anyway, Sunday night Kristin hosted The Heeb Storytelling Show at Joe's, sponsored by Heeb Magazine. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to see her again and think back on the last year and a half or so of this journey. And, Gilbert Gottfried was one of the storytellers--he told Jewish jokes that you've heard a thousand times and I promise you that there was nothing funnier happening on the planet anywhere at the time.

I don't think the room gets full credit for that, but it didn't hurt.

By the way, Kristin says that I made her nose too big in this drawing. It's funny because it's true.

Monday, February 11, 2008

One Man's Opinion

Cousin Lindsey was in town this weekend and Chris took us to meet Zak and Nancy at this Oonch Oonch place down on 12th between 9th and 10th and I was out past my bedtime so I decide to take the train home right late in the night when it's practically tomorrow anyway, and I think I must have been confused about the difference between Uptown and Downtown because, on the way home, I kept finding myself further North when I wanted to go South.

I should have stopped doodling and paid more attention. But I finally got home and that's all that's important.

Friday, February 08, 2008

After the After Party

Sara, Jo, Jennie and I met in Park Slope last night for a Joe's Pub field trip to see Rachelle Garniez at Barbes, a standing gig she has the first Thursday of every month. They call it a standing gig because she packs so many interested observers into the room that, unless you get there early, you have to stand.

We got there early.

If you haven't heard her, Rachelle's voice runs the gamut between a whiskey-soaked sailor with a tale to tell and a Disney princess getting dressed by bluebirds. Her music is crepuscular in a sea-shanty sort of way and can be reverie-inducing --Just ask this woman, if you can snap her out of it . . .

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Jill Sobule plays her second show this week at Joe's tonight, bringing along her stories of heartbreak, whimsy and uplift. On Monday she previewed her new song "Super Tuesday", written for NPR which officially makes this week at Joe's (the musical wing of a not-for-profit institution, after all) a tax-deduction.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Holmes Sweet Holmes

The Holmes Brothers from Saturday Morning's radio broadcast. A lot of the material they present is original and it's great; but, they have a way of transforming the covers they choose into versions that become definitive blues interpretations. (If you don't believe me, ask Willie.) For example, you have not heard the downright religious urgency of a man wanting a woman to want him until you've listened to the Holmes Brothers draw out and completely recreate Cheap Trick. And when they pull "And I Love Her" from the Lennon/McCartney songbook, it sounds as if Paul and the other three lads had put together a demo and left it on the shelf waiting for someone to truly explain to God, why, why, why all the attention on that one girl?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Coast to Coast

There's nothing better than waking up on a weekend morning, turning on the radio and listening to some NPR, unless it's actually having an NPR program come over to your place and broadcast a show live from your living room. Well, last Saturday we reached a sort of compromise NPR and I; they came to Joe's early in the morning to tape one episode of West Coast Live for next week and then they broadcast another live in the afternoon. I slept late and came for the second one because I like live better anyway. And sleeping late.

They had all sorts of fancy guests. The Holmes Brothers were there, but I'll put their drawings up later. And then they had Edith Grossman, who is officially the first translator I have ever drawn. And, if I'm going to start drawing translators, it's good to start with the woman who mediates for Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Cervantes. It just looks better on a resume.

In the Second part of the show, Calvin Trillin came out and read some of his poetry. Jo thought he was very funny: "This guy's hilarious," she said. "That's why they pay him so much for the poetry," thought I. (He is the highest paid poet in the country.)

Ali Eskandarian, an Iranian born folk singer raised in Texas and now living in New York (like you do) was up next, introduced by Judy Collins. If you want to be taken seriously as a folk-singer, it has to help to be introduced by Judy Collins.

Finally, Judy Collins, an emerged folk singer from the West Village played a couple of songs to finish the show up. She was introduced by Ali Eskandrian which helps if you want to be taken seriously as a folk singer.

Judy Collins has a voice like Judy Collins and that's a pretty good compliment for those trying to parse the metaphors at home. During her second song, she had a slight tickle in her throat and, as she addressed it by coughing a bit and changing the phrasing of her song to compensate, I found myself glowing with admiration not just for a lovely performance but for an entire career . . . There's something about watching a woman perform live on the radio while struggling with a cough to make you appreciate how confidence and experience can compensate for any problems that might pop up along the way . . .

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Weekend Funnies

A friend of mine passed away last month and I miss her.

Once, soon after I had moved to New York and was giving voice to an inner monologue that pretty much plays in constant rotation, she said something that has been balm ever since.

"Flo," I said, "Do you think I'm ever going to make a living doing this? I mean how will it happen? How will I survive?"

And this woman, this institution, this behind-the-scenes-tower-of-good-humor and no-nonsense who had stared down the insecurities of legends looked at me and said, "I wonder if you'll even be able to tell when you have a career?"

Friday, February 01, 2008

Late Night

Craig Greenberg performing as part of Late Night at Rockwood, Wednesday night.

He's playing Rockwood this Sunday at 7:00. Give a listen here . . . .