2011 US Tour Post #7- Attack of the Wereplane!

One thing I look forward to most about tour: going to NYC.  One thing I look forward to least about tour: driving in NYC.  I don't even know why they bother with paying for things like lane dividers or traffic lights, let alone traffic cops.  It seems to be 100% traffic anarchy.  Within fifteen minutes of circling around downtown Manhattan while looking for parking to pick Ricky up from her hotel, a taxi on a one way street decided to make a left turn from the middle lane on a green light in front of my car, swiping the front side and leaving traces of yellow paint before speeding off.  It'd be great to experience living in New York some day, but I think I'd rather have a horse than a car.  At least one that knew how to leap over cars.

It was great seeing Ricky again after a week and a half of solitary confinement.  She had only the day before started feeling well enough to come back and she still wasn't at 100% but she at least felt well enough to start performing and traveling again.  The gig that night was at a place called R Bar which we had played last year.  It was nice getting the chance to perform at this place fully coherent this year.  Last year we had to drive 14 hours almost non-stop from Chicago with only a small three hour sleeping break to make it in time for our gig at R Bar following some truly unfortunate car troubles the day before.  I'm convinced that besides the phonetically pleasing sound of it, the R in R Bar stands for red as the walls, lighting, artwork and political views (just guessing) all had a distinct crimson tone.  It was a good show; not a ton of people there but the people who were there were pretty enthusiastic about it.  Mostly it was great to hear Ricky's songs again for the first time in three weeks!

"Hanging Day" live at R Bar- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioSUD3lOVK8
"My Sweet Enemy" live at R Bar- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twNMymzPv2o

I don't know how people toured before social networking.  It is truly a modern phenomenon to be able to put up on Facebook "Looking for a place to stay in New York" and three days later, as a result of being in touch with people from all periods of my life, some of whom we haven't talked to in years, we were staying in our own rooms in a 19th century mansion in Staten Island.  The owners of the house were Carl and Andrea DiVito who were friends of Craig and Sophia Hansen, old friends of my parents from Nashville.  Small world.  And when I say mansion, I'm not exaggerrating.  Ornate chandeliers hung from the ceilings and Romantic era artwork covered the walls.  Carl runs a photography studio from the downstairs and with his two kids out of town, he was happy to have their rooms filled.  I know I keep harping on this same point in every blog but it's been truly amazing the people we've met on this trip who have been so generous to us.  We've truly been blessed.

We had the next day off so after sleeping most of the day away (one of the realities of touring...if you have the opportunity to sleep, you should take it!) we took the Staten Island Ferry over to Manhattan.  I loved riding the Ferry!  It's a beautiful ride and from the open deck you get a great view of the Statue of Liberty and the city as we approached.  In San Francisco, that same ride would have cost at least $20 but it's free to take the Staten Island Ferry.  I could have just stayed on there the whole trip.  Sure beats the bus.  We walked around Manhattan a bit, passing by Ground Zero and some old churches and making our obligatory pilgrimage to Whole Foods Market (it's amazing how you can travel the country and still eat at the same place almost every day).  We ended up at my cousin Miles's band practice and then took the ferry home.

The next night we played in Brooklyn at Goodbye Blue Monday where we'd actually played our last show of the tour last year.  It's a groovy little hole in the wall that you might miss if you didn't know it was there.  The crowd was decent, mainly brought out by Miles's band the Medicine who also played on the bill.  Miles has the kind of band I've been looking for for myself for years that features multiple singer/songwriters trading off songs.  They played really solid rock and roll set!  The show was ended by a ukulele player who threatened to take off an article of clothing per song.  When we saw he was intent on going through with it, we promptly left.

Maybe the most advantageous things about touring is the ability to set up meetings with people in areas of the country that you're not often in.  I had gotten in touch with David Kahne about a year earlier and sent him a song of mine and he'd responded very positively and told me to let him know if I'd be playing in New York.  I wrote him a few weeks ago about our shows on this tour and he said that while he was going to be swamped that week and unable to make it out, I was welcome to come by his studio if I had time.  For those of you who don't know, some of David's production credits include "Driving Rain" and "Memory Almost Full" by Paul McCartney (as well as being Paul's musical director on tour), "Begin to Hope" and "Far" by Regina Spektor, "I Megaphone" by Imogen Heap, "MTV Unplugged" by Tony Bennett (which won the Grammy for album of the year in 1995), "All Over the Place" by the Bangles, "First Impressions of Earth" by the Strokes.....just to name a few...(check out his website for a full resume: http://www.vincristin.com/home.php)  He's been one of my favorite producers for a long time so it was an honor to meet him.  Very friendly guy.  He showed me some of his gear and a little bit of an orchestral score he's written for a new Peter Pan ballet which was absolutely beautiful.  He had plenty of Paul stories to tell which I of course listened to with dropped jaw.  It was clear that even after producing so many amazing artists, the wonder of working with an actual Beatle was still not lost on him.  He asked me a lot about the tour and I told him a few stories of my own.  About a half hour into our conversation, the door opened and a girl in her late twenties/early thirties with bright red hair poked her head in looking very surprised to see me there.  "My next session," David explained and then turning to her said, "Ingrid, this is Adrian, a singer/songwriter from Sacramento..."  Yep.  Ingrid Michaelson.  She ended up being very friendly and seemed just as enthralled by David's Paul stories as I was.  I stuck around for about fifteen minutes more and then gave David my CD's as I was leaving (Ingrid seemed particular keen on my picture frame CD cases....if the next Ingrid Michaelson album comes out in picture frames, well you guys are my witnesses as to where she got the idea!).  David said to keep in touch and that he'd give me feedback on my recordings.  I was very glad to have met him.

I wandered Central Park for a little while afterward making my annual pilgrimage to the Dakota and Strawberry Fields and then I met up with my Aunt Coral and cousin Miles for late lunch at a restaurant called Good Stuff where some of Coral's artwork was hung.  Coral does some of the most unique artwork I've ever seen, combining prints with jewelry all on tiles.  Check out her work at www.coralbourgeois.com.  That night, Ricky and I drove about an hour outside the city to do a performance/interview on WCWP with Chris MacIntosh.  Chris looked like a cross between Santa Claus and Charles Darwin and was a really fun host, asking us lots of good, well informed questions unlike some shows I've been on when the host hardly even knows my name.

We played our last show in NYC the following night at Alphabet Lounge which ended up being to all intents and purposes a private show for my Aunt Coral, Uncle Scott, and Scott's sister Shelley.  The night wasn't a total loss though as we were treated afterwards to some delicious Puerto Rican food before heading over to the Medicine's show at another much better attended bar across town.

We left NYC the next morning and drove to Providence to pick up Miles's PA system for a house show we were playing that night in Cambridge, MA.  Damian Broussard had contacted me at the beginning of the tour offering to host a house show for us when we were in the area.  I had honestly forgotten about it, but about a week ago when I realized we still had a few open dates around this week, I wrote him and he put the whole thing together at the last minute.  There were about eight people there in the audience--pretty average sized crowd for this tour--but the difference between this and the bar shows we'd mainly been playing is that everyone who was there was there to see the show and listened attentively the whole time.  There was a much more communal vibe to being in somebody's living room at a kind of party then being the random background noise at some club.   It really got Ricky and I thinking that it might be advantageous to focus future tours around playing more of these.

The next night's show was at a restaurant in Providence owned by the parents of one of Miles's friends called Local 121.  Ricky and I expanded our regular in the round format to include Miles and it proved to be a really fun show featuring some choice collaborations, some planned, some spontaneous, and some that may as well have been spontaneous.....  Miles has really developed into a strong songwriter and it's hard to remember a better one that we've played on a bill with on this tour.

We had today off which we spent part of at Coral's studio.  She actually gave Ricky and I beautiful original tile pieces to take home with us which was pretty awesome of her.  Ricky posted a great article the other day that I think touches at the heart of what we face on a gig to gig basis which you can read here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/11/12/Are-You-Too-Busy-to-Catch-the-Hidden-Beauty-Life-Has-to-Offer.aspx.  The gist of the article is that people are often more likely to respond to music because they know who's playing it rather than if they come across it unexpectedly performed anonymously.  It's a hard reality to fight, but on the other hand, at almost every show we've met at least one or two people who have told us that they truly enjoyed our music and would make sure there were more people out to see us next time.  And that is truly the point of all of this.

And that's the evening news folks!