ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Music Archive



December 2008



Rock On

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Man, I love Christmas in NYC. The parties, the joy, the decorations, and, as of yesterday, the beautiful blankets of snow covering the muck of the city.

Last week was the third annual cookie party, held this year and Herman and Kathleen’s place. About two dozen people came, including, Ben, a friend from high school! Very cool to see him and meet his girlfriend. Sunday was another friend’s hot chocolate party, followed by band practice Monday. The last jam session before the holiday party.

The party? Was AWESOME. The space – Galapagos in DUMBO – was great. The booths were like little islands floating in water. And the stage – the stage was perfect for the show. We went on at 10, and it went really, REALLY well. It was so fun to just be up on stage, rocking out, and even singing in front of my coworkers. I feel really lucky to be comfortable enough to let loose and rock out in front of my boss, my coworkers, even the Commissioner. I loved it!

Finally, last night a friend and I went out for tapas and then wandered around the city looking at the holiday windows in the snow. Perfect end to Christmas in NYC.

Tomorrow, I head to California. Merry Christmas!!!



July 2008



Wait, that’s a bar chord? Aw crap. No, I’ll try it.

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I’m trying to take advantage of opportunities that come my way to do something different. Today, after work, I stumbled upon such an opportunity.

As I was leaving work and heading to the train (I chose the A instead of the F because it is 900 degrees out) I ran into four people from the office. One had a guitar, one had a suitcase, and one had a folder full of papers. They claimed they were starting a band, and told me to come along. I kind of – no, really, actually – didn’t believe them. I mean, clearly Chris, with the guitar, was going to play somewhere. But Dave had a suitcase with him, and Nate just generally doesn’t strike me as one to hang out with Chris, Lisa and Dave. Then I looked at the papers and saw they were five packets of a bunch of songs with chords. I figured that if this was some joke they were all simultaneously in on, well, good on them. So I got on the A train going the opposite direction of home.

They reserved a space at a practice / recording studio near Midtown on the west side. This place is great – each room has loads of equipment, including full drum sets and keyboard, mics and amps. I was even able to rent a guitar to play for the session. Of course, I had no clue how to tune it using the tuner they had, so both Chris and Dave had to step in.

At first I was a little apprehensive. I’ve *just* started playing guitar again after about 10 years, and I’ve struggled in the past with picking up on songs quickly. But they were so patient with me. Most of the songs we tried had pretty easy chords, and after Chris correctly called me out on being too worried about looking stupid, I relaxed and just went with it. And it was so worth it. I certainly am nowhere near as good and Chris and Dave – they really know their stuff, and can play complicated melodies and solos – but I kept up for the most part, and had an absolute BLAST the entire time. And Nate was amazing on the keyboard. Seriously, it was this silly two-hour jam session that reminded me of how much fun I have when music is involved.

Hopefully we’ll do it again in a month or so. In the meantime, I can’t wait to get started with my guitar lessons.



June 2008



Chicago. Harlem. Barbes

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There’s a bar in my new neighborhood called Barbes. There’s an accent over the ‘e’, but I don’t know how to make that show up on a Mac. Anyway, they have live music there basically every night, and it’s interesting music. Behind the bar is the performance space, and it’s in a tiny room, probably about the size of my old apartment. 20 people can sit, plus maybe a dozen can stand in the back.  What I’m saying is, it’s small.

Last night Herman and I went to see Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra. It’s a TEN PIECE BAND (remember the description of the space above?) featuring a tuba, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, saw, banjo, clarinet, sax and percussion. They played music from the 1920s band era, mostly written by band leaders from Chicago and Harlem. To me, the songs all had a sound that made me feel like I was in New Orleans. It was loud and wonderful, and so not the kind of music that one expects to hear in a bar in most places.

If this sounds good to you, they’re playing at MOMA at 5:30 and 7:30 on Thursday July 24. I know I’ll be there.



April 2008



Music, Magic and Make Peace

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Last night was the Jason Mraz concert. It was at Highline Ballroom in Chelsea, way over between ninth and tenth avenues. I got in line around 6:30, and was inside by about 7:45. I almost didn’t get in – I had a printed ticket from the pre-sale, and apparently they had wanted people to just give their names (I always like having a paper copy), so they nearly didn’t let me (and the poor girl I sold the extra ticket to) in. Thankfully for me, I had the credit card I used to purchase it, which they could match to the four numbers (and my name) on the two printouts.

Once inside I was really shocked at how tiny the place was. It probably holds maybe 400 people. There are tables and they serve yummy food – I ate with a couple of girls I met in line before decamping to the main floor. Just that kind of crowd – really friendly, happy people. The show started with a little magic from Justin Kredible who is, as he says, like a magician, but cooler. And he was pretty damned entertaining. He served as host for the evening, as it really was a big show.

First up was The Make Peace Brothers, kind of folk-rock happy guys. They played a quick set, but it was really upbeat, happy, and quite lovely to hear. Plus, they were adorable to watch. After another bit from Justin Kredible, we were treated to Bushwalla. How did I not know about this person already? Seriously, he’s outstanding, and I enjoyed every song he and his group performed. His backing band included Jason Mraz in disguise. It seemed pretty obvious, but I don’t know if everyone picked up on it at first.

Finally, after another Justin Kredible act that was wicked impressive, Jason came on stage. So good! He opened with “Plane”, a great song from Mr. A-Z. I found this video from when my sister and I saw him in Austin.

He played a few of his hits, including “Remedy” and “Geek in the Pink.” Most were songs off of his new album, being released next month. His song “I’m Yours” is so happy, I listen to it when I’m in a bad mood and it calms me right down. The concert was being filmed for the AOL music sessions, so hopefully I’ll get to see it all again soon. There was a great encore with everyone on stage, and then it ended with a big sing-a-long of one of his most beautiful songs – “You and I both.”

In trying to figure out the best way to define the crowd, I would say it was similar to folks I’ve seen at Dark Star Orchestra or other jam-band-type shows, but with a bigger dose of Williamsburg Hipster. Young, happy and just looking for good music and good people. Everyone was really happy and dancing around and just enjoying the show and the people. In fact, here’s my favorite example of the crowd. There were a few douches there, and it’s a tight space, so at one point someone was having trouble getting out of the way of one of the douches. And he said “get the fuck out of my way.” At a ‘normal’ NYC event the girl would have turned around and read him the riot act. Instead, she just turned around, smiled and kind of shook her finger at him to say “c’mon, man, we’re all just here to have fun and love and enjoy the show.” It shut him right up. 



February 2008



Zig a zig ahhh

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Oh man.  Sunday night I had the absolute best time I’ve ever had at a concert, in terms of sheer joy. I had the privilege of attending the Spice Girls Reunion Tour.  

My friend Jon Mark and I arrived at the Prudential Arena in Newark about 5:45, and people were already lined up waiting for the doors to open. It was freezing – and actually snowing – but that didn’t dampen the spirit. The demographics were about what you’d expect – lots of teenage girls (some with their mothers), lots of gay men in their 20s, and a few folks like me, who loved the Spice Girls when they were in high school. Many of the younger girls actually came dressed like the group, and one had a boom box with her and was playing the albums. The crowd of course sang along.  It was a party before we even got inside.

They went on at 8:30 PM, no opening band. It was the exact level of spectacular you would expect. Costumes by Roberto Cavalli? Check.  Costume changes after every two or three songs? Check. Pyrotechnics? Check. Hot male dancers? Check. Fabulous dance moves performed in crazy heels?  Check.

Some may not realize that the group has had quite a few hits beyond “Wannabe”. They’ve released three albums, and from them probably 12-15 have been really memorable songs. And they sang them all, along with a break in the middle where each (expect Posh . . . hmmm) sang a song from a solo album. The Mel C. song was actually really popular in clubs, and Geri sang her cover of “It’s Raining Men.” They opened with Spice Up Your Life, and closed with it, too, right after they performed their encore of Wannabe. Which ended with confetti.

Oh, and they sang live, too. There were some moments where you could tell they were a bit off, but they had a live band, some backing vocals and tracks, and really sang live.  And they were good!  

I had an absolute blast and am still enjoying it. Everyone was in a good mood, enjoying just the silly joy that comes from that kind of positive music.