I Love You So Bad It Hurts (LIVE)

The second song I played at an open mic recently is one of my favorite originals of the past few years. Musically, it’s a simple progression that’s made a little fresher by putting a capo on the 10th fret so that the guitar almost sounds like a mandolin. Lyrically, each verse repeats the first line at the end with a little bit of a twist caused by the lines in between.

 

I love you so bad it hurts
with a kind of pain that I don’t mind at all
I love you so bad it hurts

I love you so much I don’t
have anything left for anyone else
I love you so much I don’t

I love you so much I can’t
drink enough so I can forget
the way your love burns like a lit cigarette
but I love you so much I’ll never regret
that I love you so much I can’t

I’ve loved you so long I can’t see
all the way back to the morning before
my love came knocking around at your door
and I might as well just admit that I’m yours
’cause I’ve loved you so long I can’t see

I’m Not Afraid (LIVE)

I

Fear is the challenge
to overcome or to succumb
and either way your work’s not done
Once you think you’ve got it licked
you’ve only learned half of the trick
Just because you lose, or win,
doesn’t mean a goddamn thing
the next time that the fear begins

II

They say the fear of public speaking is the greater than the fear of death, which makes some sense to me since we all know from a tender age that we will die but there is nothing to say that we will speak in public. That is one bullet we can dodge. And the devil you know is always more palatable than the strange one.

By my blurry count, I have taken to the stage between 40 and 50 times and, like everything in life, each could be the last but so far this is just the latest. I wrote this song about fear a few months ago and performed it last week at Mary O’s on Avenue A between 2nd & 3rd. If you’re in the neighborhood drop in for a meal or a drink but don’t tell Mary I sent you. She wouldn’t know me from a hole in the wall.

III

So here’s a fucked-up thing that happened….

Yesterday I saw an ad on Craigslist that piqued my curiosity. A guy was looking for a guitarist to learn a set and perform it live tonight at the Bowery Electric. I told him I could do it.
I took a half-day off from work to meet the rest of the band and rehearse the set at Rivington Studio on the Lower East Side. You’ll have to take my word for it that I am not a vain man, but I was pretty fucking hot. On guitar.

After the rehearsal I went home to feed the cats and my own hungry belly that had tasted nothing but a buttered roll all day, and to take a nice cold shower since I was sweating from all the hard work I’d done, creating art. Then I took a couple of trains down to the Bowery.
At 10:30 we took to the stage. The drummer assembled his ridiculously elaborate collection of cymbals – seventeen of them. The bass player and I plugged in, tuned up, and were ready to go. But the guy who brought us together – the singer, and writer of the songs we were to perform – was nowhere. 
A call was made to the missing man. We assured the soundwoman that he was on the train and would be there momentarily. The next call we got was from the hospital where he was being treated after he fell and smashed his head.
Part of me wanted to stay at the bar and get drunk but the better part of me said to go home. I actually stood on the sidewalk, leaning on my guitar case, pondering. On the way home, everywhere I looked – I mean literally everywhere –  were people hanging on each other, kissing and giggling, including a couple practically rubbing against me on the subway. And my one and only love is on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
The guy was supposed to pay me $150. 
That’s more than anyone has ever paid for my art.
Is it mere coincidence that it looks like a casket?

Twelfth Night by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival

The last time I saw Twelfth Night, Mark Rylance played both Viola and Sebastian. It’s an understatement to say that’s a tough act to follow but in the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s production there is nothing missing from Kerry Warren’s Viola. This is her debut season with the HVSF and her talent is sure to shine through in all her subsequent performances. From Michael Broadhurst’s opening speech and intermittent guitar playing, to Stephen Paul Johnson’s yellow-stockinged Malvolio, to the string section of Maryn Shaw and Serena Ebony Miller who materialize whenever the food of love is required, the entire cast sparkles as individuals and ensemble. 

The performance that stuck in my head the next day was Sean McNall’s Sir Andrew. From his entrance, gesticulating like the long-lost cousin of Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin’s Festrunk Brothers, to the broad physical comedy of his sword-play and hose-play, Sean McNall’s Sir Andrew keeps the spirit of the 16th Century playwright alive while reinforcing his relevance to 21st Century audiences. Some jokes never get old. Among them are cases of mistaken identity, knocking the high-and-mighty from their pedestals, ridiculous displays of unrequited love, and the buffoonery of a man who speaks like a warrior but acts like a coward.

Moritz von Stuelpnagel directs this delicate but hearty work with great skill. He takes full advantage of the benefits of staging Shakespeare in an open tent where actors have the freedom of movement impossible on a stage, giving the audience a preview of each characters’ entrance as they come strolling, charging, or tumbling across the great lawn.

For New York City dwellers there is a bus from Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center leaving 4:00 on Saturdays for a round-trip fee of $28. You can also take the Metro-North from Grand Central to the Cold Spring stop and pick up an $8 round trip shuttle bus. Better yet, get there in the afternoon and take a picnic lunch and bottle of wine to the luxurious grounds overlooking the Hudson. When it’s showtime they ring a bell and have secure shelves to store your supplies while you watch the show.

For more info visit the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival website at hvshakespeare.org.

The Reveries

Contrary to popular opinion, talent is not god-given. Nothing against the supreme being but talent is the result of dedication to craft and the five members of The Reveries have obviously done the hard work it takes to become talented. Last week at Arlene’s Grocery they put those talents to good use.

The last time I was at Arlene’s Grocery I was playing bass, so I might be a little prejudiced, but for me Steve Jackson is the stabilizing force that drives the whole thing forward. The rhythm section of Jackson and drummer Nick Martire kept an impressive level of intensity from bursting into pandemonium as they veered from straightforward rock to jazzier and ska-infected rhythms. The songs were all written by the band except for a distinctive cover of the Velvet Underground tune Rock’n’Roll.

A band would lucky to have either Jack Orlando or Dave Marchant on guitar and The Reveries have both. Each has their own musical voice and the ability to either blaze their own path or to lock into each others notes and double up on a riff the the way Duane and Dicky did.

Bantering is its own talent and it’s something singer Joe Gusmano does well. His sense of excitement is infectious. When I saw only one mic stand set up before the band started I was worried that the vocals might get drowned out by the amps but the singer was up to the task without the help of harmonies. Brass makes a nice addition to any band and Gusmano’s trumpet playing kept the arrangements full when he wasn’t singing.

I got to meet the band members before the show and they were nice, down-to-earth guys. I caught Joe bumming a piece of paper from the bartender so he could write down the set list.

The Reveries released their newest song 335 yesterday. If you like what you hear you can catch them live in a couple of weeks on Sunday July 30 at Pianos in the East Village.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/track=963221213/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/

I know you want to be my cage tonight
But you won’t let me go
I know myself better than you do
I’ve got to break free before I
I know you found yourself on stage tonight
But you won’t let things go
I’ve been here so long that I can hardly breathe
I’ve got to break free before I re
I’ll break free fine
West Vanity City
That’s where I’ve got to be
I’ll break free fine
West Vanity City
That’s where I’ve got to go
To make ends meet
I like your morning
I like your evening please
You’ve been here so long
I can’t breathe
I want to go but you won’t let me leave
There’s no need to free
The skyline crumbles near

New Orleans Sketchbook

Bourbon Streetlight

New Orleans is like no other place on Earth. There, music is the currency with the greatest value, as it should be everywhere. The melting pot was bubbling in the bayou before it had found its way to most other places. The French, African, Spanish, and Native American influences don’t pollinate other populations the way they do the denizens of the Crescent City.












The first band we saw in New Orleans was the Royal Street Winding Boys. We landed at Louis Armstrong Airport late in the afternoon and after dinner followed the sound of Jenavieve Cook’s trumpet into in a place called The 21st Amendment on Iberville Street between Royal and Bourbon. About an hour in I was giving serious consideration to never leaving. A few days later we saw the band again with a slightly different lineup at the Spotted Cat on Frenchman Street, where I did this sketch of them:

The Royal Street Winding Boys

Dizzy

The bass player, Dizzy, was in both incarnations of the band and I drew him at The Spotted Cat.





















It’s a tough town to leave. Even tougher because it hasn’t left me. It’s the kind of town, like my own New York City, that you can’t help but take for granted if you live there, but if you don’t, you might turn an unfamiliar corner and catch a glimpse of the promised land.

Here’s a video of The Royal Street Winding Boys performing “I Found A New Baby” at the Dragon’s Den.