This month started out with a gig at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark on the 2nd. The student activities coordinator called us the week before in a panic, desperately needing a band for an on-campus back to school party. The 2nd was a Thursday night, so once everyone confirmed they could do it, I booked a plane ticket for Sheila. Marco picked her up from the airport, they met us at the studio, and we headed to Newark. The gig was fun, our most rousing response at a college. The students enjoyed us. Plus, we got fed. The students at this school are not big party animals! Our first set (from 9-10) was packed. By 10, the place had thinned, and by 11, everyone had left. I suppose they had classes on the 3rd, but the people in charge let us pack up and go. That's the first time THAT's EVER happened to us. These students were hardly even drinking... very studious! It was cool, lots of fun and I can't wait to go back there. We got back around 1am and I woke up at 5:30 to drive Sheila to the airport so she could go day job on Friday!
On the 4th, we went to Harrisburg, PA, for the first time to play at a place called Scott's Grille. It's a 3 hour drive and the owner insisted that the band be set up and sound checked by 5pm. Not only that, but there was a jazz band playing from 6-9. It had been such a beautiful week. I spent my days writing songs with Marco (we wrote another 3 new ones!) I was cranky on Saturday the 4th - didn't want to drive 3 hours for one gig, didn't want to give up the last of the beautiful summer days on the last weekend of summer, and most of all, didn't want to have to hang around Harrisburg and kill time for four hours! Then, to make matters worse, we had planned to leave at 1pm and at a little before noon, Jack called to tell me that his van broke down, the transmission shot. Then, I spoke to Sal who said we could take his truck, but filled with gear, he could only take one other person. This would mean we'd also have to take Marco's Prius. AND my '85 Buick Skylark (whom I refer to as E.T., because the primer coat grey with rust highlights, noisy, smoky, low ridin' clunker is still chugging with over 180,000 miles! Plus, she came with stickers of aliens on the dashboard.) I wasn't too keen on this idea. The car has no air conditioner and gets horrible gas mileage. Three cars would have sucked up more of our pay than I could live with, and we were going to play until 1am and I just couldn't see three of us having to drive 3 hours home! So I started calling rental places. Since it was a holiday weekend, the only ones I got through to were closing in half an hour. Marco helped because I freaked out! He found us a rental van in Jersey City with unlimited mileage and it only cost 80 bucks! So he and I flew to the rental place, Amy & Sal & Jack showed up, we loaded and we made it on time, did our sound check on time and it all worked out. And killing time was fun - there was a huge festival on the riverfront. Meanwhile, Sal & Sheila decided to go check out some other venues in Harrisbrug. Amy, Jack, Marco & I left the festival and headed back to Scott's Grille and bumped into Sal, Sheila and two police officers picking the lock of Sheila's car! She locked the keys in her car. Can you believe all the stuff we go through?! It's probably comical to you, and maybe when I'm 80, looking back, it will be comical to me, too, but on September 4th, it was NOT comical!! Anyway, the cops popped the locks, Sal & Sheila went to check more venues, the rest of us had a FANTASTIC (but not free) meal at the venue, we all got changed and then we put on a great show! Fantastic response and a really good time. We can't wait to go back.
On the 10th, we played the Munchaba Lounge in Levittown, NY. Thanks to MARK for taping the show and to Robin Chifari for having us on the bill. The video came out great, and if I can figure out how to dump it to digital, I'll put up some tracks for you. We had Dee Murphy subbing for Sheila. She did well, but we missed Sheila! Nonetheless, it was good time as always. WE LOVE THE MUNCHABA LOUNGE!
On the 17th, BELT released their first CD in NYC. Who is BELT, you may ask? A cool 5 piece rock band out of Staten Island. Marco & Jack played on their CD, and I produced it and engineered it. Marco mastered it. It is highly entertaining, and since I am their record label, I encourage you to head over to CD Baby (www.cdbaby.com/belt) and pick up a copy! You'd be supporting my label, check other records, which means you'd be supporting blue number nine. And I guarantee, you will like this CD! I play flute and clarinet on one song. The tunes are funny, catchy, poppy and a great time. The CD release party was packed with people - a huge success. Pick up you copy of BELT's "Dead Come Back" now! You won't be disappointed, I promise.
On the 18th, bn9 was scheduled to play the Light the Night Walk in Hoboken NJ. The site was Pier A, on the water, with a great view of NYC. But it was so windy and cold and threatening to rain that we didn't play. We couldn't risk setting up our PA speakers and having them get knocked down by the wind. And the wind was that strong. We felt really bad. We loaned them our PA so they could make announcements, and we picked it up at the end of the night. I was so sad. I love playing these events.
We're involved with Clear Channel's breast cancer awareness campaign, run by volunteers. Check out http://HelpCureBreastCancer.Clearchannel.com. This could be a great opportunity for us and we're all excited about it.
On the 19th, we played the Columbus Avenue Street Festival in NYC, sponsored by StreamRing.tv. It was a nice day, cool and clear. The show was fabulous. We wish there were more people in attendance, though. The stage was on 86th Street, the end of the festival, and we could see thousands of people lining the streets towards the other end of the fest. But it was still a good time.
On the 25th, we returned to the Triumph Brewery in New Hope, PA. Now THIS was a great gig! Jeff was incredible on keyboards. Our friend Pamela West (www.pamelawest.com) came up and did one of her tunes. We backed her up on the fly with no rehearsal. She was there hanging out with a friend, and they had drunk 2 bottles of wine, but man, the chick pulled it off beautifully - what passion! What a voice!! The audience was fantastic. Jeff's sister came out, my good friend Kathy, in from Colorado visiting her mom in South Jersey, was outta control, asking people to dance and having a great time. Lisa Marie - thank you so much. It was great to finally meet you!! People were bopping, dancing, drinking and having a great time, which, of course, helps us with our energy. I think it was one of our better gigs in a while and we hope to play there again. It's a great room with a fantastic sound guy in a cool town. Good food, too. Nice people all around.
Our last gig of the month was on the 30th at the Sarah Street Grill in Stroudsburg, PA. I expected low turnout because it was the night of the first presidential debate. But people were out anyway, and they all turned out to be people who liked us! We sold many CD's (we broke even on "on a shoestring" this night) and made new fans. Sarah Street is another venue I really love. We hope to get in there on a Saturday night. It was fun, just like last time. And great food in this venue, too. If you live anywhere near it, you want to come see us next time we play there!
Finally, we just got a booking in Columbus, Ohio for November, and we're also playing all the way in Kentucky! After that, we're taking a winter gigging break and hitting the studio, which is almost 100% finished. Lloyd Nilsen, bn9's original bassist, came over to the studio and is helping us with the final wiring. I'm so excited about it! I just got the latest version of Sonar software for recording and a cool new mic and other gear... I have way too much gear, actually!
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Letters from the past:
August, 2000 (from Marco)