I know logically that playing NYC solo shouldn't be that big of a deal. Yet, I was nervous. I've played dozens of shows in the city, but still I would wake up at 3 am with some anxiety as the show approached on my calendar. Just another example of how different being a solo artist is from being in a band.
As a group organism like Watershed, you just sort of depend on everybody's brain picking up the slack. I sorta knew where we were going, but Joe REALLY knew if I had to ask. I sorta knew where the hotel was, or load in and set times, but Biggie REALLY knew if I wasn't 100% positive. Pooch sorta knew I was going to drag him into Central Park at 3am to drink beer and look at the skyline, but I REALLY knew that was the plan.
All by my lonesome, I've got to REALLY know these things 100% by myself. Not a big deal to a traveling salesman or comedian, but slightly un nerving to somebody who has always traveled in a "gang" so to speak.
6am- Catch my flight out of Columbus to LaGuardia. I actually got a NYC travel book with a map for the flight and I swear I learned more about getting around the city in those 60 minutes than the 6 months I lived there in 1995. "ohh… I understand Bleeker street now…"
Anyway, I catch the M60 bus to the West Side Subway Line (station right by Apollo Theater which is very cool) I drag my Guitar and two bags off the train at Columbus Circle and huff it over to 54th and 10th to visit Mike Landolt and the guys in O.A.R. who are recording at Avatar Studios.
Truth be told, this is the central reason I scheduled this gig. Avatar Studios was formerly The Powerstation studio which is where I spent many months of my life recording first demos and then the Watershed CD Twister for EPIC Records. It was also during this time that my mother had been diagnosed and then died of lung cancer.
Mike, along with Matt Wallace and the O.A.R. guys would be recording there for two only two weeks. I knew I had to play NYC eventually, so I figured it would be worth it just to drop by the old studio and spend 15 minutes walking around.
Everything looked exactly the same except all the gold and platinum records by Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, ect… had been taken off the walls. I can only assume that when the studio was sold and changed to Avatar, they weren't part of the deal.
Anyway, O.A.R. were tracking in Studio C and were kind enough to let me hang around and soak up the nostalgia for a bit. It was totally surreal to be back in that studio where I spent 18 hours a day for 2 or 3 or 4 months at a shot. I sat on the sofa next to the control board and we could have been mixing "How Do You Feel" all over again. After an hour or so of B.S. (Andy Harrision happened to be there too as he was out with Cheryl Crow, who played NYC the night before) I grabbed my stuff and headed back up 54th past Broadway to catch a train downtown.BTW- The new OAR tunes I heard sounded amazing. They were cutting live off the floor and were really killing it. I came away very impressed and looking forward to their new CD.
As luck would have it, a friend of mine let me crash in their apartment and as double luck would have it, that apartment was only 4 blocks from Arlene's. Got to love the good karma.
I remember that for a time, I was so burned out on New York, that when we played there, I literally wouldn't even leave my hotel room outside of the gig. I would just watch movies or play Grand Theft Auto. But today, on my own and with time to kill, I was back in love with NYC and spent 3 joyous hours roaming from Washington Square, to Union Square to St. Mark's and then….i got burnout again and went to back to my apartment and waited for the gig.
6:30pm- Walk the four blocks to the club and I was as excited as I had ever been for a gig. I had been preparing my whole life for this and I knew I would crush, which is a good feeling.
I love Arlene's Grocery for two main reasons. 1) They seem to love me and 2) I always hear a Replacements song within 10 minutes of walking into the place which makes a Midwestern boy feel at home.
The show was a blast and then I hungout with friends and ordered Bud from Joe the bartender until 1am. Special thanks to NYC transplant Megan Palmer for stopping by and lending moral support.