Knitting Factory ~ New York, NY 7.11.07
I got up at 4 am and called a cab for a ride to the Nashville airport. I was asleep before the plane took off and slept the whole way. The wheels touching down woke me up….I had thought it was turbulence. Another cab ride got me to Manhattan and I hoofed it to Soho. I had a to pull along a suitcase w/ cds and clothes and my guitar on my back and I was starting to work up a good sweat. Luckily it was getting ready to rain. I was able to drop my cds, luggage and guitar off at the venue after they opened later in the day. But my show wasn’t till much later.
I hadn’t been to New York since the August right before Sept. 11, 2001. It was very strange to think of all that’d transpired in those six years. I was working a fulltime job and playing out at a dive bar in Murfreesboro on the weekends trying to hone my chops and try out songs for tips and free bad draft beer. And I was driving to Nashville about 2 or 3 nights a week playing writer’s rounds and trying to pitch my stuff around. I’d gone to NY with my best friend on vacation, since neither one of us had ever been to the ole big apple. We weren’t able to cram everything we wanted to do into that one trip. So the last day…after going to a Yankees game…we took the subway down to lower Manhattan. We had gone out to Battery Park and taken some pictures in front of the Statue of Liberty, gone out over the Brooklyn Bridge and done the same thing….with the Twin Towers in the background. We had walked up to the entrance to the Towers and it was late afternoon on a Sunday and it didn’t look like we had time to ride up in them. We had tried the same thing at the Empire State building a few days earlier…and when we realized it would take waiting in line for hours….we decided our short time was spent trying to see as many other things as we could. We had a conversation with a middle aged black lady who was the security guard that afternoon about the towers and time it took to go up…etc…etc.
After finally getting my bearings about me I wondered; should I? Do I have time? Do I want to? I hoofed it on down to Ground Zero. Appropriately it finally started raining. It made me sad, nostalgic, tired, and wet. I thought of the security guard we talked to that day. You couldn’t really see much with the fence up around it…and I had started to get really hungry. So much of this job is just about surviving. Very simple, basic needs become laborious tasks on the road. Where to eat? Where am I going? Where can I use the bathroom? What am I going to spend my down time doing? After veering off course for a bar I was told was “cool” (no longer there it turns out), I found “Souths” right down the street from the venue. There was a friendly bartender who made generous pours. I think Europe had made me forget how beautiful the women are in NYC. Sitting at the bar and watching it pour down in sheets on Church Street, I finally felt some relief. I’m so used to watching thunderstorms in the south. Where rain on the tree leaves has a particular sound, and lightning lights up the sky for miles. Here it’s odd to watch it pound the streets and fill up the gutters. And when it does thunder and lightning, it seems it’s not so far from the tops of the buildings. And you can’t see past the rows of high rises in front of you to know how much light it put off.
It was a light crowd at the Knitting Factory that night. So light in fact, the other band wasn’t even there. Actually, some of the guys in Last Train Home missed a flight somewhere along the way and got re-directed because of all the bad weather. Needless to say, traveling in and of itself is a task. Front man Eric Brace and his sweetie Mary Ann did make it up to the show and we just swapped songs for a few hours and had a good time. Mary Ann’s niece was nice enough to make sure I took the correct subway to get back up to 46th street and my hotel (cheapest one I could find). I figure I walked about 5 miles that day and several of them in soaking wet jeans and carrying luggage and a guitar. When I finally did get to the hotel I fought off the urge to pass out. I got outta my wet clothes and put on some shorts and flip flops, dry t-shirt and a cap to cover the fro that had sprouted on my head, and I hit Times Square, which turns out was just around the corner.
This is the point in many of my stories where things take a turn for the worse. I have been known to not go to bed when I should and let that last drink or bar get me into some trouble. But not this time. The air and my dry clothes felt awesome in the New York night and I helped myself to a sheeshkabob from a street vendor. And then for good measure, I had a hotdog too as a toast to my old pal Todd. He who infamously had eaten five of those suckers in one day (in addition to three very square meals) as we walked the streets the last day of our trip six years back.
Apparently my hotel was just down on “Little Brazil” street. And after my Spanish-Mexican eggs and heurros rancheros the day before…..I figured Brazilian was a good next move. The waiter spoke Portuguese to me thinking I was Brazilian. Which is funny, because my brother-in-law is actually is Brazilian. I do have dark eyes and dark hair…and had spent 2 weeks in Florida touring, so I was sporting an unusually good tan for a writer/musician. However, my Southern “Huh?” reply gave me away. I recommend the Copacabana Salad with Shrimp.
Earlier the night before a guy at the bar was bitching because the show said 8pm and it wasn’t till 9pm (will some folks ever figure this out?). “And now they went and added an opener” he exclaimed to his buddies. He seemed to think I worked at the venue as he nodded at me for my approval. He seemed to be frustrated enough to tell it to a total stranger. So I didn’t ruin his story and tell him I was the opener. Or that my booking agent actually booked that show.
So there. I’ve played New York.