A Wednesday Night in NYC. . .
So the last two or three weeks have been a challenge. Even with this mild winter, my desire has still been to just stay home. Doing nothing, playing on Facebook, which has become a very bad habit, with iTunes or Youtube on in the background, and just lose track of the time.
That said, after several attempts I made it out this past Wednesday. Right after work in my building was this group trying to build a business out of debating. Live Motion – Live Debate, I guess they envision something like Toastmasters. It was interesting, though I found the debaters offering up standard fare. The topic was the role of the state or government in education. They had two libertarians versus two folks advocating for the status quo. It was something different. I just wanted to know what they meant by “education”.
The beautiful part of the night was what followed. The plan was always to get some diner and finally make it out to see a band. Live music is just a necessity. Here is the challenge. We had at least four shows I could have gone to. You routinely hear about rock dying, but considering that I had four options on a Wednesday night in the middle of February – that is encouraging.
Arlene’s Grocery offered up the Royal Skulls. They are Alex Rude’s new project and I do need to get out and see them at some point. Looks like March. Alex just announced that they “are playing at Gramercy Theater on Friday March 10th! It’s gonna be a killer lineup including the Blackfires, Tempt, Iron Sky and Stormgiant.” The show at Arlene’s was courtesy, of course, of Tommy London and his monthly $5 Rock Show at Arlene’s.
Then there was the show at the Gramercy Theater. They had four or five bands playing there. And the thing that intrigued me was that I knew only one of them. That night it was Hello Halo & January Jane w/ Face The King, and Wake The Sun. I saw Face the King a few years back and they were good.
I enjoy walking into such situations, not knowing what you are walking into. At the end of the night, I am usually sending myself an email listing some act I need to get to know a little more about. Usually the case. There are of course other nights where you find yourself walking out, shaking your head, asking,”WTF?” Both have happened.
So those were the two I were pondering earlier in the week. Then on Tuesday or even Wednesday, I came across a post that Liza Colby was performing at Duane Park, which until I googled, I did not know existed. I know very little about this show as I just saw one random post about it. I do not know if it was her or the Liza Colby Sound proper. I am guessing though that it was a bit of fun as the place is a burlesque theater. Something different.
What I do know is that I also missed her shows over at the Gramercy Hotel at 4 Lexington Avenue. Those were with Revel In Dimes. I did try to catch one of them, but the dude at the door asked me if I had reservations. Reservations? I answered no. He proceeded to suggest that I have a seat at the bar. I paused and pondered what that meant, but I was beat and called it a night. I know they went on to do at least one more show over there. Also saw that those shows, I think, were alluded to in the New York Times. Rock n’roll gets kind of loud apparently.
So back to Wednesday, February 22nd. So lastly I am wrapping up another exciting day at work and I am again perusing my phone when I see that the Bushwick Hotel, a band, who this time is playing at the Mercury Lounge. Again playing on this Wednesday, February 22nd. It was now something like 6 PM on that Wednesday. Damn. I have been curious about this act since the summer. About the same time as I did my essay on their drummer Hitomi, “A Snapshot of Hitomi Nakamura”. Hitomi had shared on several occasions pictures of their recording sessions down in New Orleans. They came across in the photos as a very dignified bunch, very proper. So I was curious where such appearances would lead.
So I went with the Bushwick Hotel over at the Mercury Lounge. I got there early and caught the last few songs of the preceding act, Dave Wanamaker. A good act; what I would describe as quiet thoughtful rockers. The music was accessible, with some nice melodies and hooks. Like a lot of rock today, it had some element of country.
And the Bushwick Hotel was cool. Again a lower key event. They had a horn section, which is always nice. Several of them were in suit jackets, a dapper bunch. I am stuck on that point. Musically, there was a nod to Springsteen. Certainly there was something there in the vocals. There was perhaps a certain seventies sensibility. The tunes did have a certain richness, with the horns being accentuated at various moments. And the second guitarist off to the side playing mainly slide, just added certain tonal moments. I was standing in front of him and enjoying his contribution. And then of course there was Hitomi on drums and she was, as always, a pleasure to watch. Kenny, their bass player, seemed kind of trapped behind the the horns and singer / guitarist, but still enjoying the scene. They all were.
They were good. I will be back, but their was just had a certain uptown feel. The tunes were thoughtful, with a dash of funk and lower tempo than my usual. There were no Motorhead or Ramones shirts. It is a trend today in NYC. At least it feels that way. Dressed up, toned down a bit, and a little more serious, and reflective. And with a whole horn section too. The vibe in the city is changing. It always does. Today, we got gigs happening at the Gramercy Hotel, and the new venue in town is Berlin. Maybe it is just me – maybe I am toned down and more serious. Either way, at the end of the set, Hitomi was up, standing on her snare and tom-tom, her arms out stretched, standing over her mates.