I had the greatest day in New York yesterday. The above photo is the venue that I got to play at called the Rockwood Music Hall, located in lower Manhatten. I spent all day in Greenwich Village, a place I've only read about and dreamed of visiting since reading Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" or Patti Smith's "Just Kids". This was the stomping ground for many of my favourite artists back in the 60's and early 70's before they were really "discovered". Even later on in the 90's it served as a drawing board when Jeff Buckley hit the scene and was playing small clubs to a handful of people. He built his following here. It was a surreal feeling, strolling down these same sidewalks as some of my heroes.
The first thing I did was park my van and walk to The Chelsea Hotel on 23rd street, it was the main monument I wanted to see. Unfortunately when I got there it was all under construction and I was unable to go inside. The clerk at the front desk said it was his first day on the job (hmm yeah right) and that I could't go in. He didnt know how long it had been closed for or when it was reopening. It didn't matter, I got to stand there, overwhelmed by the forces and spirit surrounding me. For a moment I got to feel like what Patti Smith must of felt like when she was in her early 20's. A struggling artist in the big city, the great unknown and the whole world in front of her. I walked around to some nearby coffeeshops, parks and imagined myself living here, I think I could.
After some amazing street tacos and an introspective afternoon I arrived at the Rockwood and brought my gear inside. I didn't have to play until 10pm... so I actually wound up taking a nap in the back of my van in the middle of a busy New York street. I heard all the conversations, phone calls and mutterings of each passerby. I woke up around 8:30pm to a message from a girl from Ireland named Kerry, she wanted to do an interview with me before my show. So I said sure, and told her to meet me at the club around 9pm. Time went by and it was getting close to 10pm, the room looked exactly like it does above... empty. All of a sudden Kerry shows up with two of her friends and we do the quick interview outside on the street. She had been told by her friends in Germany about me and that she must catch my show. I was amazed by this.
I went downstairs and strapped on my guitar and started playing, the room was completely empty and in walks Kerry and her two friends and they sit in the very front row. We make a couple of jokes and then I start my show. I guess most people in this situation, including me, would be really upset about this outcome, but for some reason I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I felt like it was my first show again, back at Morango's open mic or something when I was in high school, except this time I was in New York. After a few songs a couple more people walked into the room and sat up front at the table next to Kerry and her friends. It was like a private concert. I asked them how they were and what brought them here. They looked to be about my age. The young man softly said that his mother called him today from Ireland and said that you have to go see Joe Nolan tonight! I later found out his name was Hayden, and he was from Kilkenny Ireland but has lived in New York for a few years. His mom saw me at Static Roots this summer and made sure to let him know about my performance.
As the show wrapped up and I packed my box of merch and guitar back into my van, and said goodbye to my new friends, I once again had a moment. This must of been how Patti felt here, way back then, writing poetry and performing to 5 people in a small basement club in the East village. I started to cry a little bit, I was not defeated but empowered.
I made a total of $8 last night, after paying out the sound man and percentage to the club. I took that $8 and bought myself a slice of pizza and a can of pop up the street, walked back to my van and headed out of town, Philadelphia bound. I didn't even see the Statue Of Liberty.
I want to thank Kerry and her friends, as well as Hayden and his girlfriend for putting the shine in my trip. I will remember that night in New York.
Tonight I link back up with The Long Ryders at The Locks in Philly.
Rock n roll.