I broke my record this month for number of hours awake. I woke up at 10 am on Friday, June 6th and did not get any sleep again until I laid down in bed at 5:30 am on Sunday, June 8th. I don't pride myself on the fact that I did this. It was pretty painful considering I'm a 9 hour a nighter, ideally.
We released our CD "on a shoestring" on June 6th at Vibe in NYC. We got to the venue at 6:30 and began stuffing our goodie bags. The owners of the venue were freaking out on us a little - telling us we had to move the bags over here, over there, basically just getting in the way and being annoying. I snapped at them to just leave us alone and let us finish. Camari, Sheila & her boyfriend Ron (who came all the way from Buffalo - Ron's first time in NYC), Veronica (one of our first back up singers) and I started off. We then got help from Melissa and Darrell from Bsamo.com. Howard helped for 2 minutes and left... he did come back, but we could have used all the help we could get. Anyway, by the time we were done with the bags, I had a headache and was exhausted and hot. The club didn't turn on the air conditioner until around 8pm so we were frantically stuffing bags and sweating our asses off. This was how the night began. On a sour note, shall we say? The sour notes continued when the venue decided to cut the cover charge down to $5 instead of $10 after 30 people had already paid $10; then, they cut the cover charge all together. I knew this before our second set, and it stressed me out! We had a 9 piece band, I spent money to promote the show, and the door was to be our pay. This is why the venue could have cared less if people paid or not - they weren't getting a cut; I can understand they only care how many drinks they sell, but that night, the venue had more people inside than I've ever seen in there, thanks to US. We had Dayna, Meredith, Denise, Imani, Veronica, and Pam working the door and trying to bring people in. But the venue only cared about how much they made at the bar and not whether anyone got paid for working to bring people in or whether the band made any money. It really pissed me off. To all of you who did pay, thank you. Maybe some day, the entire world will understand that people who play music enjoy their work, but it's exactly that - WORK. Years of lessons, money spent on schooling to perfect the craft. Not everyone can do it and not everyone who does it is good at it; musicians deserve to be paid, just like anyone else working in any field. We should have been able to pay the people who came to the show and helped us promote it. This was the LAST TIME I will EVER work so hard to bring people into a venue, especially that venue. Fuck 'em. We had made a deal and a deal's a deal and the venue broke the deal. To me, that's simply not cool.
The band was good, nonetheless. Jenny Hill on alto sax and Rob Susman on trombone were amazing. A couple of charts were brand new to them - they saw the music for the first time that night, in other words. Everyone soloed on "Hook In", our last song. (When we were told we had to stop playing, I decided our last song would be a really loooonnngggg song! Fuck 'em.) As I mentioned above, I have been to Vibe before, and the night of our CD release party was the most people I've personally ever seen in that venue. And needless to say, everyone left when we were done. Anyway, enough of this - thank you to everyone who came out and we hope you enjoy the new CD! It was nice to see Jerry & Bumpskey! It was nice to see our new fans from the Amsterdam Ave. fest and all of our old beautiful fans and friends. I was especially happy that so many people stayed through our entire second set and go to witness the soloing prowess of the musicians who played their asses off on HOOK IN. Ron recorded it. He's going to give me a copy and I'll have some MP3s up soon!
We got home at 2am-ish and I couldn't sleep thinking of all the things I should have said to people at Vibe (like "screw you" to those who deserved it and "thank you" to those who deserved it.) We had to be in Central Park at 8am to play at the New York Road Runner's Club annual Mini Marathon but I laid awake until the alarm clock went off at 6. As planned, we left the house at 7am and made it to the park on time. Flawless timing, got set up quickly on a bigger stage than last year and then it started to rain. The tent the NYRRC provided was smaller than the stage, so we squished all our gear under the tent and performed anyway. Sal on guitar had to stand on a piece of cardboard behind the stage because there wasn't enough room for him and his pedals on the stage. Then, the tent started leaking! Sal got soaked and his pedals shorted out for a minute on one song. At that point, I decided we had to pack it in. We did the best we could and put on a good show for the runners! A runner from that day ordered a CD off our website 3 days later. That was nice.
We then all came back to the house/Concussion Studios. The plan was to get in a good power nap because we had to go to Wildwood to play at a private party. I laid down knowing I had 2 hours to finally get some rest, but once again, the brain wouldn't stop and I couldn't sleep! At that point, I'd been awake for 28 hours. Sal had gone home and got stuck in traffic trying to be back by 4pm. Wildwood is about a 2 1/2 hour drive. But it took us 3 1/2 hours. We were supposed to play at 8 but didn't arrive at the hotel until 8 because the rain was so bad, visibility was frightening. And the traffic was bumper to bumper at one point for about an hour.
I had called the party prior to leaving to find out if we were still on and they told me YES. But when we got there, there was no place to set up except for outside in the rain. It took some major explaining on our part for them to understand that gear and rain make for electricution. So after some debate and frustration, we set up in a hotel room and put the speakers out the door! It was pretty funny and we ended up having a really good time (and quoting line after line from "Spinal Tap".) After the show, we all took a stroll out onto the beach. It had stopped raining by then. It was beautiful and refreshing. We then drove the 3 hours home and I purposely did not sleep because I was in the passenger seat and didn't want Marco, the driver, to nod out because I was nodding out. We got home at 5am, into bed at 5:30 and there you have it - awake for 43 hours!
This is a long Dear Surfer this month because we were busy! On June 12th, we played at 1251 6th Avenue outside. THANK YOU to BAI music and to Gail Plautz for dragging everyone out and away from their desks. Congrats to ROB & MANDY SUSMAN... Rob is our trombone player and his wife Mandy gave birth to a beautiful baby boy that morning. We had a great time. There are photos of that gig on our SHOW DIARIES page.
And then we went down to Tribeca and did a photo shoot! Well, we still don't have the photos and in fact, trying to get the photos from this guy is like asking for his first born child. He seemed pretty resentful about the whole thing and I don't want to talk about it any more, I'm just so annoyed with annoying people! But we live and learn....After that, we all took naps, except Camari who went and taught yoga! At 11pm that same night, we took off for Cleveland. We arrived at 6 in the morning and stayed at our friend Pam's parents' place, a beautiful farm with hummingbirds in the backyard. This was 6/13 and we had a gig later that night, so we all crashed out for a while.
The gig was at a venue called the Hi Fi Club in Lakewood, OH. The most fun was when a woman named Gabriella came up to the stage after to buy our CD. She held some beautiful earrings in her hand and told me she just moved here from Chile and had these earrings. I asked her how much she wanted for them and she said, "No, they're gifts for you girls since you were so great." This really touched me and I wore the earrings the rest of the tour! The sound system in this room was amazing and the audience was a lot of fun. That night, we crashed out and had to be at the Clifton Arts Fest the following morning for a 10:30AM show. It was threatening to rain, but we lucked out. Thanks so much to Cathy from Cudell Improvement for giving us the opportunity. Without this festival, we would not have gone to Cleveland at all. She liked us so much, she told me afterwards that they would like us back next year. Fingers crossed. After that gig, same day, we headed to the Barking Spider in University Heights. We arrived around 3pm and set up quickly because the place was pretty crowded. Camari's mom Pat and her friend Carolyn came in from Detroit to check us out. Martin, the owner of the venue, treated us really well and loved us and told us we're welcome back any time. We also met a guy named Mike who gave us some hot tips on other venues. He liked us enough to show up with a friend the following night at our gig in Akron (an hour away from Cleveland!) Pamela West played in between our sets and Marco, Jack & I joined her on a few tunes. After the show, we all went out for Mexican Food. I decided we needed to have a band meeting to discuss the flaws of the show (ahem), but the meeting turned into an all out "Behind the Music" type argument which resulted in one of our members storming off in the car and leaving the rest of us to wait around. When Mike came to our show the following night, I told him about our little fight and he said, "That always happens on the road." Mike has had years of experience touring! We did patch things up the next day. Our final night, we played the Lime Spider in Akron after a great instrumental band called SONS OF ERNESTO. Nice guys, too! Pam West followed us and she had really worked hard to promote the show and we owe her for that (and for the place to stay!) After the gig in Akron, we all headed back to Sheila's cousin's place who let us crash that night. This was very kind of them because they have hectic lives and 3 kids! We were spoiled because the house was big and quiet. Sheila only crashed for about 2 hours and then drove back to Buffalo because she had to work Monday morning. All in all, I can't wait to go back to Cleveland! It was tiring but really great, nice people, GOOD SOUND PEOPLE at every venue (unlike NYC venues) and people who enjoy checking out all kinds of music... they don't all leave when their friend's band is done!
Finally, i am sorry to end this "Dear Surfer" on a down note, but my dear friend Michael Bates passed away yesterday, June 24th of an anuerism while at his job. He was a talented songwriter and an energetic performer. He played guitar and sang. I knew him since I was 17. He lived in Jersey City not far from my home and he would come over in the summer for barbeques. His house was Sopranos Central... Jack, Marco and I would go to his place to watch the Sopranos and Ali G and drink beers and just bullshit and have a good time. I don't like talking on the telephone, but I always loved talking on the phone with Michael. He made me laugh non stop with his whacky sense of humor and his quick Gemini wit. I can't believe he's gone. It was so sudden. He will be missed greatly. Some of his friends and I are planning a benefit concert. We'll keep you posted. I'll save tomorrow's gig for next month's Dear Surfer. We only have one gig in July and this month's D.S. is way too long already!
peace & love,
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Letters from the past:May, 2003
August, 2000 (from Marco)