Here is this week’s recount of the shows, rehearsals, travels, etc. that keep me occupied. This was a good one. Last week ended by appearing with Jack Donahue at the Blue Note New York and fleeing Greenwich Village before the Halloween Parade. This week started with…
4:00 Soundcheck and rehearsal at Joe’s Pub for Anne Steele’s CD release show at 7:00. We had a great run last year with this show called Anne Steele: Strings Attached. She had won the MetroStar contest; sort of an American Idol of the cabaret world, and a fully produced run and recording was to be her prize. Her original five-night run went so well that it was extended for five more nights. Finally, well over a year later, the independent label PS Classics jumped in and brought the recording part to fruition. We did the whole session live in one day – six hours to be exact. The magic was definitely there, it felt really good as it was being recorded. The show was just as magic. Sold out to capacity and full of happy people. Anne’s really got the charm. My biggest challenge: a guitar/voice duet of Sondheim’s Move On. Gorgeous. Handful.
5:00 soundcheck at the Metropolitan Room for the final show there with Deb Berman: All In Good Time. This show is such a thrill for me on so many levels. First of all it is a duo – just me on guitar with Deb’s voice and personality. I’m the whole band. I’m so happy someone finally trusted me with that for a whole show. We treat each song as its own little universe and made some unorthodox arrangements. A few tunes are right down the proverbial pike. Her stories are a stitch, and everyone walked out of there smiling. The one and only Warren Vache jumped in a played a few songs with us on his signature coronet. He plays weekly with Annie Ross on the same stage, and they were up right after us. I think we’ll do some more shows to keep it rolling. Feels more like a beginning than an end.
Video. I have no good video. Ben Niemczyk and Kitty Skrobella of Miranda Music are seeing to it that this state of affairs changes. We rented a room over at 853 Rehearsal Studios since their rooms are so pretty, and the staff is so nice and accommodating. We did a simple two camera shoot of me playing each of the three instruments that lay out the orchestration of my Windham Hill recording of First Noel. With the remaining time we just did interview footage with Ben asking me questions off-camera. Very soon he’ll have something for me to look at. He says he enjoys editing, so it should be good. I’d rather pull my own teeth.
Then it was time to dash off to the Metropolitan Room to perform with Danielle Grabianowski and pianist Nate Buccierri. She’s really got a special thing going on and it is pure joy to share a stage with her. Nate and I finish each other’s musical sentences and are having much fun together. My dear friend and director extraordinaire Bill Castellino came to the show, having just returned from an extended run out of town.
Very little on the books today, just a weekly business consult with Evergreen and a rare lesson. Very promising young guitar player. I don’t teach very often, as keeping a weekly appointment would be hard to juggle with the performance schedule. When I do, though, I really enjoy it. Especially when we can really get into the good stuff.
Then it was preparing the new songs and packing for…
Fly to West Palm Beach for a weekend of shows with Craig Taubman. Craig is another who needs a whole separate blog entry, coming soon. Performing with him reminds me what doing this is all about to begin with. I love the way he interacts with the audience, the things he talks about and the feelings he elicits during a show. He gets them to take their shoes off and consider that each moment is sacred – not just the ones that are supposed to be because of convention. Nothing happens from a script, it’s all genuine. On stage and off. His voice is unaffected, as is his manner. I remember once when he interrupted an orthodox service to encourage people to please actually listen to the person speaking. I could go on at length, but as I said, a separate entry is more the place. The Friday Night show in Stuart, FL was a good one. Technically it was challenging – someone must have ignored our equipment list. No bass amp for me, some interesting versions of percussion instruments for Jeff, no monitors, and a big dome directly over the stage. Fortunately Craig likes to keep the volume down so problems like these are more manageable. As for the crowd: he got ’em.
Then after a very decent Japanese dinner we sat around an outdoor fireplace behind the hotel and told stories until it was time to go to bed. Great visit.
11:00 the four of us piled into a small car with a driver and his dog for a three hour drive across Florida to Fort Meyers on the west coast. The very sweet man who drove us [very slowly] told of how he’d been ‘downsized’ from a company he helped create in an industry he had very specialized skills in. Now in his mid fifties it’s hard for him to find work. Join the millions. His dog slept with his head in the guy’s elbow most of the ride.
I remembered this hotel because there was a really good Vietnamese restaurant nearby. We went over for a good bowl of noodle soup. Then when we got to the venue it became clear that the wrong tech rider went out. No drum set. And we were on the floor instead of the stage. The poor sound guy had to redo all his good work while his assistant went to fetch drums. I helped out as best I could while Craig kept asking me to rehearse instead… It was interesting. We ended up starting about 15 minutes late without a proper soundcheck, but it flowed fine from there. At least all the mics and instruments were getting to the mixing board properly.
I got to play a couple songs on Craig’s guitar while he sang. I love doing that. Playing bass in the band is very satisfying too, but you know how I love the duo thing. Maybe we’ll do a whole show or recording that way someday. But then he lives next door to Lawrence Juber so that is highly unlikely. A guy can dream, though, right?
Right now I’m flying home from Fort Meyers [lovely new airport] to Newark [not lovely new airport] via Charlotte, NC. Tonight should be special as my dear old friend Chip Wilson comes to town with his new partner Jesse Moore and we’re all playing together at the Metropolitan Room. On top of that, my father drove all the way up from southwestern Virginia to introduce his new girlfriend. There is no end to the adventure….
Coming next week: ….Toronto, and Feinstein’s…