Saturday – Day #4:
The shuttle picked us up early from the hotel and we arrived at The Blair School of Music around 11am. I hadn’t slept that well and woke up very early. I used the extra time in the morning to rehearse in my room and felt comfortable about the show but was incredibly tired. I managed to rest whenever I could back stage between set-ups and whatnot. The Theater itself was huge and the stage manager kept us entertained with his humor. I’m sure he moonlights as a stand up comic around town. Pete arrived with his Pedal Steel, an impressive instrument that becomes even more so when you watch it being set up. Sound check was quick and easy.
We rehearsed a little more backstage and got to meet various folk from the university. I was more calm than usual as I watched our introduction from the side. Once we walked out and sat down with our instruments I felt the anxiety I’m accustomed to return. The show went well and the sound was incredible, how could it not be in Nashville? After our set we returned to the back stage area, I grabbed some pizza and caught a few sly Zzzz.
Later that evening we paid a visit to The Five Spot on the suggestion of Pete to see some quality live music. The venue itself was very much like a NYC dive bar but the audience was incredibly respectful and the band was great. I’m not sure who the singer was but he had an amazing talent for creating an intimate vibe to the point that you almost felt like you were on stage with him. The band had a Jazz-Country feel mixed with some vaudeville flourishes. At one point in-between songs he performed a magic trick which I’ve honestly never seen a band try to do in the middle of their set. Afterwards we hit the main strip and ducked into a bar called Robert’s Western World. Incredible music and totally packed. I was surprised to learn that it doubled as a boot store. Things get a little hazy around here, we left, went back to the hotel and then it was Sunday morning.
I got to perform with Joe at Will Cotton’s apartment/home studio in Tribeca last Thursday as part of an evening of science and art. I recommend that you go check out his work, you won’t be disappointed. Another fun evening and the musical adventures continue.
I was lucky enough tonight to be invited by my friend Joe to a showing of a short film on Rosanne Cash and then meet with her afterwards. The film was mostly on her songwriting process (or at least that’s what I focused on) and was followed by a short interview. The audience got to ask a few questions also, always an entertaining mix of personalities who volunteer their hands. I had a burning question but like every Q&A I’ve ever attended, never volunteered mine.
Songwriting has always been something I was naturally drawn to, hated and loved at times in equal measure and never quite felt that I knew what I was doing at any given time. It was reassuring to hear a celebrated artist talk about her struggles with it also. Those long periods of droughts, sudden inspiration, the fear that the last song you wrote would be your last and of course, working with other great musicians. Something that really stood out was the fact that sometimes she’d write a line and her co-writer would ask her “What does that mean?”. She’d respond “I don’t really know”. “Oh, it’s one of those lines…you will.” And in time she would discover it herself.
I remember walking to meet a friend for a few beers one evening in spring and the line “sometimes love is a stray dog that follows you home” appeared out of nowhere. I had no idea what it meant. I tried to fit it into several half-written songs I had at the time but with no success. I eventually wrote a new song around it called “Wherever We Are” and it’s meaning became crystal clear. If you listen to the lyrics you can work in out yourself 😉
“Where is the madness?”, this is a phrase one of Rosanne’s mentors would ask her about a song she would bring him. It was an attempt at removing perfection, both in structure and lyrics. I loved this as perfection is what I always try to achieve even though I know it creates nothing but anxiety. Writing perfect songs is writing bad, or worst still, boring songs. I began thinking of the tracks I have recorded for the new album and how stressed I became analysing a guitar part or vocal here and there. When I step back, I like the songs and I say what I want to say and that is all I set out to do. It will be imperfect because I am, the first record was too.
After the event there was an impressive layout of food and I found out that Irish Poet Paul Muldoon who Joe spoke with also plays in a band. Maybe in the future we can convince him to do a show with us.
Both Rosanne and her manager recognized me from performing with her last year but yet again I couldn’t pluck up the courage to hand her a Supersmall CD, and for the second time came home with a few still in my pocket. She’s such a huge influence on Neko Case, a major influence on Supersmall but I wasn’t quite sure how to say that. Maybe next time, or the time after that.
In other news, with two dates in Nashville I have decided to drive down and make a road trip out of it. It will take two days with a stop over in Roanoke, Virginia. I’ve already noted the attractions and whatnot along the way. Expect lots of photographs and musings from the middle of nowhere. Until then, expect lots of photographs and musing about the next Supersmall record.
This gallery contains 39 photos.
Another fun show playing as So We Are at the Sidewalk Cafe on Thursday, January 15th, 2015. For more information on So We Are please visit our website by clicking HERE. Big thanks to Mian Hou for taking these great shots.
I had the wonderful experience of performing with Rosanne Cash recently. She joined Joe and I on stage at NYU’s Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life for the 3rd Annual Emotional Brain Institute Emotion in the Arts and Sciences Event. The event was hosted by Judith Regan, host of Sirius-XM Stars Channel’s “The Judith Regan Show,” and will be broadcast soon. More details on that to follow.
Joe and I performed ‘Inside of Me’ and ‘My Mind’s Eye’ and Rosanne Cash then joined us to sing ‘Mind Over Matter’. She then closed out the event with a few of her own songs.
Before the show began Joe asked me to grab my guitar and meet him back stage. I was introduced to Rosanne and was asked to play the song to her so she could rehearse it. After we sang it through a few times we were good to go. It was a little surreal, singing to and then alongside Rosanne Cash in a small backstage room. As I’ve mentioned before, she was awesome both on and off stage. After she performed with us she remained on stage to do her own set but not before paying me a lovely compliment by telling me that I was a ‘real guitar payer’. Something to remember indeed. As my musical adventures continue, this gig will definitely stick out. I posted some pics of the event below.