Another fun show with Ruby Rae at Rockwood Music Hall. Thanks to all who came out. Next show will be this Saturday night at Freddy’s Bar “Ruby Rae + Friends Songwriter Nite!! Featuring Ruby Rae // Colin Dempsey // Ang Bocca”
Hope to see you there 😉
A freakishly hot day yesterday up in the mountains brought some welcome relief from the ice, snow and cold we had been experiencing lately. Deer are hanging out under the pine trees a lot more while Turkey Vultures brazenly roam our property like an unchallenged street gang. Awful looking creatures. On a dark day their presence can be very foreboding.
I took a walk through the woods and am still amazed at how quiet they are. Not a single sound in winter. No animals, no insects, nothing. Just the dripping of melting snow and an occasional gunshot from a nearby hunter. I’m looking forward to summer and the ambient noise the woods will bring, filled with life.
This Walt Whitman quote hangs on a wall in my upstate cabin framed between a wood carved picture of a bear and a can of bear mace. I pay it no attention, never even noticed it until I woke the other morning with several scattered and fractured images stuck in my head. I have an excellent memory, my problem is that they don’t always sync up chronologically or geographically. I’ll remember a whole conversation I had with somebody, but forget when or where we had it. It doesn’t effect my day to day existence and I’m pretty sure most people are like this. I remember the bear wood carving because it was very recent, but I forget where and when I purchased the bear mace…which is illegal in NYC.
I daydream constantly, this is my excuse. In meetings, through conversations, during rehearsals, even at the occasional gig. I can’t help it, I have a real problem being in the here and now. I partly blame trying to juggle too much in my life, I partly blame social media and modern technology in general, but mostly I blame my chemistry. It just is who I am.
I’m standing in a stairwell and a girl is being led by me on a dog leash. I am leaving a show. It was in a warehouse somewhere in Brooklyn. I am wearing a suit jacket and it’s almost 3am. People were out of their minds on drugs and I felt old and out of place and I simply wanted a beer and to go home. It was a storytelling event, i’m pretty sure of that. Not sure when. This memory melts into a show at the back of Jimmy No.43 in the East village and a Hostel gig on the upper westside. Three entirely different gigs, locations and timelines. If I were to hazard a guess I’d say 2006, 2008, and 2014. At Jimmy’s I’m having an awkward conversation with a comedienne after the show and at the hostel gig I’m watching someone else play my guitar while we wait for the show to begin and I’m not happy about it. Why these are stitched together I have no idea.
I moved to NYC in 2003. The first year was a blur of working, paying bills, immigration and getting lost around New York City. Immense highs and crashing lows, hundreds of faces I can’t put names to, tipping, cab rides, coffee, being told I have an accent, being bored of saying were I was from and generally drowning in all the possibilities the city seemed to offer. It was late 2005 when I found my feet, had some cash together and started to work on a plan to pursue what I really wanted to do outside of my day-job. I was clueless but pushed the boat out regardless. I started writing over Christmas and by April 2006 I was on stage doing my thing. These memories are pretty vivid for good and bad reasons. Later in that year all the shows, people I met, and experiences I had slowly began to bleed into each other. And still do.
Random memories, people, snippets of conversations float around my head erratically, much like my pursuit of the arts. A woman spits fire from the stage, drunk and laughing until my head hurt in a tiki bar with people I’d later wish I’d never met, tuning my guitar on someone’s bed at an apartment gig, giving a cab driver my album and then getting the same guy months later and he had the CD in his player, bombing in a gay coffee shop, bombing at a hospital gig, bombing in a bookstore, first ever paid gig, performing with burlesque dancers on stage, playing songs for the first time to five people in some underground bar that closed soon after, singing to ten people in a theater, playing a song for the very last time, playing live on air, hearing my music on the radio, first review, nameless people in writing classes, pacing backstage before a show, rushing to a gig I didn’t want to do, getting home from red hook in a snow storm, falling asleep on subways and endless bad advice.
What I do remember accurately is the people I met along the way and have remained close friends with. We were together, I forget the rest.
I’d been meaning to write about this sooner but, y’know, laziness. I had a fun few days touring with Ruby Rae in Texas recently. I got to hang with some great folk, play music, drink beer and experience the south. All of my favorite things pretty much. Ignoring the band’s obsession with the card game Dutch Blitz, I think the photos below are enough to capture the whole experience. Also, eat at Whataburger if you ever get the chance.
Being a total history nerd, I was pleasantly surprised to discover during the process of buying our cabin last summer that it was built on the grounds of the old Bon Air Hotel. Thanks to the generosity of local historian Dr. Joyce Conroy I was able to discover a little more about our property. All photos supplied by Dr. Conroy.
The hotel sat on top of the hill facing the Beaverkill and had a set of blue stone steps that ran down to the river. Some of those steps can still be seen on the edge of our property. Although now heavily wooded, unlike when the hotel was standing, we still have a great view of mountains on either side. As hard as it is to believe, I’m sure it was even better over a hundred years ago.
There is a cemetery beside us on the hill that was once officially the Hillside Cemetery. Sometime after the hotel burned down on May 2nd 1902 (I cannot find the newspaper clipping referencing this date so this may change, I’m pretty sure it was this though) it took on the name of the old hotel and is now known as the Bon Air Cemetery.
The hill itself provides us much sought after privacy but also a challenge during snow storms. Our winding road runs a half-mile up the hill from the main road and touches the cemetery, it has made for some interesting late night hikes after we abandoned the car below due to heavy snowfall.
You can still see some of the outline of the old hotel on our lawn. A long straight line in the grass runs barely visible to the left when we look out from the front deck. A storm recently felled a tree and its roots pulled up some earth including the remains of an old ceramic cup. I’m sure I’ll find some interesting items as I dig the foundations for an enclosed vegetable garden I have planned this spring. I’ve even thought about borrowing a metal detector but I’d probably spend my day discovering old bullets and bottle caps.
The only known postcard of the hotel was written and signed by a young girl called Lura (see below). She ends it with “Love to all from all. Will write soon”. Maybe there are others out there, somewhere, lying undiscovered in antiques stores.
The name of the hotel (Bon Air) was due to the owners hoping that it would become a place for TB sufferers, hence the ‘Good Air’, but the Town of Rockland passed legislature stating that no consumptive facilities would be allowed.
Below are the remains of the bluestone steps.
Below is a postcard showing the stairs in better times.
The old road to the hotel is still visible and loops around to join another road that once carried the bluestone from a quarry further up the hill. I’ve been told that all the local bluestone you see around the nearby towns comes from here. I’ve hiked up there a few times and discovered two old stone-walled roads and the foundations of some old housing used by the quarry workers. It is also a fine spot amongst the evergreens to stop and look down over the town of Roscoe.
It is nice to own property with some history as opposed to just some cabin in the woods, which was what we had looked at previously. Knowing that people loved and enjoyed the area long before we moved in makes it all feel like a continuation of sorts. Do I think it’s haunted? I’m Irish, everything is haunted.
The next time we visit an antique store I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for postcards from Roscoe, New York, especially ones signed Lura.
Wonderful new logos for Supermall by the even wonderfuller (yes, that is a word, one I just made up) Katherine Hardy. Coming to a merch table soon.
I recently had the oppertunity to perform a Supersmall solo set at The Barn at The Egremont Village Inn, South Egremont, MA on November 15th, 2016. One of the many advantages of playing such a great venue was also staying there for the weekend. The staff and locals were great and it snowed after the show turning an already beautiful part of the countryside into an early sample of Christmas. Check out the link above to the set. Also, be sure to check on the Supersmall website for all upcoming shows.