If New York weren’t quite so far away from home I’d move in a heartbeat. I’ve just returned from 10 days of music making in the Big Apple and I’m already wondering when I’ll be there next. Here’s just a brief account of what I experienced – the rest will have to resurface in songs I have yet to write…
In total I had 11 gigs in 10 days. I had booked four main shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan – the rest just kind of happened! There’s a fantastic folk scene in New York (yes, a scene, I think they’re extinct in this part of the world…) made up of a handful of incredibly talented musicians who are all very supportive of one another. At the centre of this is Irish born singer / songwriter Niall Connolly who runs several folk and open-mic nights throughout town. I really owe him a huge thank you for making me feel welcome in New York and for helping me get so many gigs. I find the camaraderie between musicians inspiring, just as much as the actual art they produce. Niall tours regularly and I highly recommend you go see him when he plays in your neck of the woods. Another musical favourite of mine is EW Harris – I recommend you watch one of his live videos one Youtube.
The times they are a changing?
To be honest, I knew very little about the occupy movement before I went to New York. England seemed to be too busy catching looters to report about mass protesting around the world… I went to Wall Street primarily to pick up my temporary flatmate’s bike (he had left it there a week ago and I didn’t know what the odds were of it still being there, but thought it might be fun to go along and find out). The bike was still there, together with a large number of people coming together to express their thoughts and concerns on the current climate. Many tourists were taking pictures of the signs and the protesters, which to me seemed bizarre and not unlike visitors taking pictures of animals in a zoo (at least that was my immediate association). I felt awkward just being there as a spectator, so I decided to join them. We sat together with a group of people playing guitar and started to play a few songs together (sublime’s ‘What I got’ was really fun to sing, hadn’t played that for years!). I also played Indie Electro Pop – everyone started chanting the “I don’t know where it’s at” at the end of the song… ‘Indie Electro Pop’ a protest song, who would have thunk it?
On my last evening in New York I played three shows, back to back. Niall had invited me to play a few songs at the Path Café in the village before my main show at The Living Room that night. So, around 6:30 I made my way to play my mini set (Bob Dylan’s It’s All Over now, Baby Blue / Montrose Avenue) before I said my goodbyes to hurry to the Lower East Side. The Living Room is a beautiful venue with an amazing room downstairs and a smaller room upstairs (albeit with a baby grand piano and blue fairy lights). This was my main show and a very worthy end to a fantastic stay. Thank you so much to all who came along, especially to all my new friends – I hope to see you again soon!
The previous night I played a show at Gizzi’s Café. The promoter came down especially to see the show and invited me to play the 11:00 slot the next night. So, after my set at the Living Room I hailed a yellow cab, grabbed a $1 pizza slice and rushed to make it to the final venue of the night.
Recording in NYC!
You can’t accuse me of not maximising the time I had. On my very last day, with suitcase in hand, I made my way to the studio on W34th Street. Producer Dave Lorentz, whom I had met through a mutual friend in London, came to see one of my shows in Manhattan and offered to do some last min recording. I felt instantly at home in his studio, which featured too framed posters; the Beatles’ Let it Be album Cover and a portrait of Bob Dylan playing bass in a studio. We recorded an acoustic version of “Indie Elector Pop” and an old / new song of mine called “It flew by”. I look forward to sharing the results with you soon.
I can’t wait for some of you to visit London so I can at least try to repay your many kindnesses. Thanks for all your support and thank you for reading!