highline ballroom in manhattan june 20, 2008, 8:45 pm for one hour
thursday june 19
leave home at 5 pm
catch 6:30 pm ferry to downtown seattle
9:00 pm fly sea-tac to jfk overnight
friday june 20th
6:00 am land
subway to friend's apartment in brooklyn
8:00 am sleep
12:00 pm wake up, shower, subway to load-in in manhattan
8:45 pm play one hour set
11:00 pm show is over, subway back to brooklyn
sleep as long as possible
saturday june 21
7:30 am wake and subway to jfk
12:00 pm fly jfk to sea tac
3:00 pm land in seattle.
pick up jeep and drive to ferry boat downtown.
drive home, eat thai dinner my wife picked up for me, fall asleep after mariners choke in the ninth
bishline danny barnes model banjo in flight case
three packs of strings
a few tools, picks, capos
(1) 15' cord
(1) 4" patch cord
cds to sell (five different titles)
dress pants and shirt
creature from the black lagoon t shirt
insect skateboard t shirt
bishline banjo t shirt
tan plaid pants
3 pairs of socks
red bandana hanky
a grey hoodie from my wife's business (doubles as pillow or sheet)
small hand towel
flannel sleeping sack (can be used as pillow, sheet or cover)
a very good book
pen and pencil
a sacred text
cell phone and charger
(2) peanut butter sandwiches
a stack of papers (contract, boarding/flight info, subway map)
envelope for receipts
pack of gum, box of mints
sum total of containers carried:
(2) a banjo flight case, and a small red wheelie backpack
this seems like a long list but it all fit into a banjo flight case and the backpack. traveling light. jet blue charges for second bag so i checked my banjo and took my backpack on board. leaving the computer home saves a good deal of weight and my personal banjo is lighter than a normal banjo.
the set up:
i was to fly out to nyc from my home in the northwest corner of washington and play at the highline ballroom on a co-bill with king wilkie in manhattan. my plan was to take the red eye out of seattle, sleep on the plane and land about six am the following day. subway/train over to my friend's apartment (they were on vacation) in brooklyn and sleep for about four hours, get up, shower and subway over to manhattan for a 2pm load in. (which is the earliest load in i've ever had for an evening show i do believe.) figuring i could sleep in the dressing room for another few hours prior to the show, which turned out correct. grab something good to eat, warm up, and figure out with king wilkie some tunes we could play together and all that. do the gig, crash, wake up and fly home.
(it's only 547.72 more miles to fly from new york to london)
total hours away from the house:
49 hours + or - 10 minutes
window seat, in an odd numbered row, on the right side of the plane, towards the back.
my usual. i like row 19 or 21.
best part of the flight:
being able to watch a baseball game in transit is very hip. they have little tv screens on there that you can watch, between that and my books and ipod, i'm pretty set. and my ability to sleep almost anywhere in almost any position as long as it's not too loud.
worst part of the flight:
outbound, easy going.
however on the return trip i met:
the Fidgeter. for six hours straight the lady next to me on the way back fidgeted constantly. every four seconds or so (i timed her) she would shift and adjust something else. this never let up. move the air vent, sit back, get something out of her bag, sit back, return item to bag, sit back, get a drink out of her water bottle, sit back, turn the light on, sit back, turn the light off, sit back, tap her foot and twiddle her thumbs, stop, get up and walk around, sit down, fish around in the seat pocket, sit back, you get the idea. she brought enough food for a flight to australia and nibbled constantly like a goldfish. it was very interesting/ironic to spend time on the subway and on the streets of brooklyn and manhattan and find everything far out and groovy and all that and be totally relaxed, and then on the way home be strapped in a seat next to the freakiest person on the whole trip for six hours in very close proximity. i have to cut her some slack she may have had some other challenges, some folks are very nervous on flights, maybe she had something else heavy going on. however, that said, she was the kind of person that dumped out a bag of cashews on her tray and then picked through them seemingly to eat them in a very particular order as though they were all somehow numbered. she ate from a bag of rice chips (she ate the whole time, almost six hours) and moved her arm against my arm for every bite, i stopped counting at 126 little movements. this kind of deal makes me nervous. and within ten minutes of catching her act i said to myself, "oh man she's going to fidget the whole way." oh to have incorrectly called that one.
if you grow up with older brothers, you learn not to hassle other folks in their space. or they will sit on your chest and drool a long dangle of spit in front of your face and tap endlessly on your sternum. so i'm culturally not prepared to deal with this. for instance i don't put my headrest back on a plane because it's a drag for the person behind me.
seatmates that will apply the drag to your flight:
-the Talker gives off the call "so, where are you headed to today?" best get the headphones on with the quickness.
-the Parent that Explains the Universe in Great Detail to the Children as though they were Addressing Everyone on the Plane
-the Armrest Hog
-the Cell Phone Business Man running the empire from the middle seat
-the Control Freak Mom she constantly tells everyone in her life how to do every little move and can't resist adding you to the list
-the Sicko (mucus factory with no hanky)
-the Puker (when they reach for that sack, look out)
-anyone with loud voice
my airport method:
i get there two hours early. relax, read and stroll around. that leaves you plenty of time to deal with things should they arise. have a cup of tea. this technique has saved me more than once in regard to a cancelled flight and being there in plenty of time to catch a different flight.
what i think of flying:
i don't mind it. most of the time, i get a lot of reading done, and it's a pleasant enough experience. it's a part of my job. if there weren't a certain degree of hassle involved in one's job, that would be Free Money in a Box and not a job. commuting and sitting behind a desk surely has it's own hassle factor also. (i've never done that so i can only guess) being out of work is a big hassle. i'll stick with the cards in my hand, thank you very much.
in flight food:
they don't serve anything on jet blue, truly a blessing. on the outbound leg, i had a peanut butter sandwich that i made myself from home and a can of cranberry juice. inbound, they have these little places in JFK airport called cibo. gourmet snacks and stuff, at gourmet prices yikes! anyway i bought a bowl of granola and soy milk and dove into that about halfway through the return flight. i thought about breaking it down into about seventy little moves for the benefit of mrs. kite, but thought better of it, no need to be hateful.
prevailing nyc thought:
being there is an odd mix of camping and urban life. it's very civilized but it's also like going off into the woods with the predators and the fleas and nuclear rats, and the odd decaying moose carcass over behind the rock. personally i think the city could use a good scrubbing, but i dig the place. (ever since i've been on a tour with a dude that caught scabies, i've been washing my hands like felix unger)
in comparison to the last nyc trip's prevailing thought which was:
it's a ruin of an ancient civilization
amount saved by taking subway and not renting a car or cabbing:
about 200 bucks and an ulcer
overall subway experience:
sure beats renting a car or taking a cab, van or tour bus.
though one has to pay attention and ask questions because it would be very easy to stroll onto the wrong train. sometimes the destination marked on the car is cryptic. everyone was very helpful to me however, i always asked and folks seemed eager to provide the proper data. very easy and cheap. the website is very good.
comparison of going in solo with no car vs. with a car/van/bus:
no contest, it's much easier just to wing it on your own sans vehicle and on one's own. "hey you wanna go over here?" ZING there you are. "hey let's go back over there." WHOOSH "hey we're back." and yes i talk to myself as though i were a separate person. with a band, it takes them a half hour to figure out they are leaving. not to leave but to figure out they are leaving, and to finish doing what they were doing when they heard the data, and for one to wander off, and one to go get them.
here's another rough formula. this might be why the corporate world could be nuts. if you travel and do say 120 solo shows in a calendar year, the odds are you will have perhaps two weird things happen. maybe you'll get sick once, and the airline will lose your luggage. two things like that. in a year. your banjo will break, and there's a flood and you have to stay an extra day or something. now if you add in a band of five guys say, and two crew guys and in 120 shows, each will have two things like that go wrong, all of a sudden you've jumped into 14 things you have to deal with in a calendar year. more than one disaster a month. as a solo, your odds are very good. it's like trying to shoot a butterfly. small moving target. i can only imagine if there's fifty people in an organization it's two disasters a week. "how is the team today saunders?" "well sir, sally in accounting accidentally swallowed an anvil yesterday, and franklin out on the loading dock was hit with a piece of skylab. today started off well until our marketing director Lufkin spontaneously combusted just after break."
backstage dressing room:
the highline is a very nice place, some of the nicest nyc folks i've met. very clean and nice dressing room where i crashed for two more hours midday after my sound check. i have played in various venues where the dressing room is very small, and then you have people that want to stand around in there for some reason, thus there is no space left for actual dressing. why is that? i should go over to their house and stand around in the bathroom. anyway, this place was very nice. there were three acts on the bill total and eventually it filled up back there but it wasn't too bad. there was a nice lady that kept coming in from the venue to make sure everyone had everything they needed.
unexpected backstage perk:
clothes steamer. my shirt looked good at the gig.
condition of backstage couch:
the light wasn't very good but it looked alright. i still made a little bed out of my hoodie so i wouldn't have to lay directly on it. (see scabies reference earlier in this screed)
was there a taper:
of course, most all of my shows are taped and available on the web. this one should show up fairly quickly on archive.
shared bill with:
king wilkie. i enjoyed them very much and they were very nice and it was a fun hang. we worked up some songs to play together and i enjoyed seeing my friend jonah their banjoist. it's cool to hang out with folks that are into music and putting out records and writing songs and learning an instrument. out where i live, there aren't really musicians dedicated to the lifestyle so much and there's no studios or venues, so when i get out amongst them so to speak it's a real relief. i don't feel so weird around other people that have made a lifetime commitment to working on music. regular people can never really get their heads around what i do, and it's best to steer conversation well away from my work.
i was eventually well rested and felt good and very warmed up. had my show prepared with some room left in there to take wide turns if need be. i performed sans electronics and just stood there and played my banjo and sang a bunch of songs. you can listen yourself, the show will be posted very shortly on archive. i have been doing an experiment of talking more in between songs to let folks know what the songs are about and all that, not sure if that's the way to go or not, but i'm always adjusting things. overall i felt like it was a healthy outing. the sound was good and i was warmed up. there were some of my friends there which makes it nice. the bill was a cool one with lots of different kinds of music and i felt at home in that regard. so i'd say it was a good show from my viewpoint. crowd was nice. mostly folks that didn't know my work, which is good for me. good to reach those folks.
i played the last song with the band that played first, did my set, and then played the last three songs plus encore with the band that played last (king wilkie) jammed in the dressing room so there was plenty o'picking.
i think my breaking ball was happening, the knuckleball was getting strikes, i gave up a couple of runs and had trouble keeping them on base, but we won the game.
funny yet painful gig moment:
during the sit-in with the band that played first, fronted by a nice lady that was a very good slide guitarist with FX. unfortunately for me, her amp was pointing towards my head. interesting that she had it turned away from herself. anyway, it was kind of an allen funt moment because at the station where i was to stand onstage, it was like standing in front of a nail gun. here i am with my banjo, which is the wrong tool for this particular job. i wanted some of those ear protectors like you see at the gun range. she hit this one high note, and held it and unrolled the volume pedal potentiometer and it went in my right ear like a frozen ice pick. i tried stepping out of the way and considered diving behind a drum kit that was right behind me as though i was evading sniper fire. anything to get out of the way of the blast. they were very nice and i liked their music, but that part hurt. if you get your bell rung right before showtime, sometimes it's hard to hear what you are doing during your set. like if there's a feedback blast or something that catches you off guard. fortunately there were no ill effects of this audio tazer.
this is for you mike bub, i found a good turkish place. awesome vegetarian food. manhattan rocks for chow.
there wasn't one, i wasn't backed into a food corner even once. i was in the same terminal at JFK a week before with a very long layover coming back from richmond virginia and had the place scoped pretty well. and it's hard to go wrong in manhattan. yes it is possible but i have very good food radar.
difficulty in getting a proper cup of tea:
zero. my rider has earl grey on it and it was easy to get tea in the neighborhood. and at JFK.
it was a warm night, with a slight rain shower right before i split the venue, new york smells like the bottom of a dumpster at that moment. that's what i mean, it's such an odd contrast, on the walk back to the subway stop, there's all these very well dressed folk coming out of limos and stuff going into a fancy club with a velvet rope and door man in a tux and at that same moment there's a prevailing odor akin to the floor of a dumpster behind a seafood restaurant permeating the atmosphere. not like a hint, or a slight degree. but like you are inside the dumpster with your face on the floor and the doors are all shut. and someone is peeing into the dumpster. kind of like that. the smell-o-meter pegged out to 11. none of the beautiful people notice. the guy walking by with the banjo is on the lookout for a rotting corpse under a tree or something. or is thinking someone snuck an old catfish head into my bag.
what was on the ipod:
- ornette, the double quartet album.
-lots of gospel, i like the positive vibe, and there is so much new music coming out of this genre. gospel is one the most happening musics right now, there so much going on in that world. rashawn ross turned me onto israel and the new breed, in particular a cd called real. i love that record.
-i'm obsessed with this song called undertaker by jeff pinkus's band honky. love bobby rock's guitar playing. that's a good loud.
biggest change from when i left:
tourists on the ferryboat on the way home. they show up like someone opened the barn door and the cows were just standing around.
listened to the braves beat the mariners in the ninth on the radio on the way home. overall though, i'm not really into inter-league play. i wish they would cut that out until the world series.
rangers hover at .500, catcher gerald laird on the DL. they don't have any starting pitchers. or middle relief. or closers. they make too many errors. other than that though, a couple of grand slams and they're back in the game.
mariners fire the GM and the manager, so from the boat i call my friend that's a scout for them and get the scoop. fascinating cat. i like the way he watches a game, it's not so much about the score but about potentials and abilities. he has a whole different way of looking at the game.
best selling cd at the merch table:
get myself together
one a scale of one to five, how much fun did i have:
same scale how good was the bidness aspect:
i really enjoyed hearing and meeting king wilkie. i have some good fans in the city and i really enjoy going there and playing. it's so easy to go as a solo. it's like moving in between the raindrops. plus when i get off on a trip like that, when things are going good, i can make lots of notes about other stuff that i want to work on. it's a good time to think. as a middle aged cat it also gives me economic and artistic confidence that i can get out there and do my thing under most any conditions. that makes you feel good. especially when the art part is producing results.
would i do the same trip again:
overall tiredness factor:
not too bad. i have learned the secret of the nap. as a man pushing fifty (and this is something i learned from watching robert earl keen work, that man can go to sleep twenty minutes before showtime, wake up and walk out there and do a good job) the nappage is essential.
there's some guys i have worked with, many of them older than me, that will hang out after shows and drink and spend lots of energy with their friends and all this type of stuff. myself, i get my buttocks out of there and go lay down. consequently, i'm not burned out. conservation of energy is of great value. many of these same folk complain about how hard all this is getting and how they look forward to stopping, i don't feel that way at all, i'm into the whole thing.
when i look in the mirror i am reminded of my age, but i feel like i'm about twenty and i live as though i have plenty of time left for all this stuff.
my best days are ahead of me. and i'm forging ahead with faith and a good attitude.
thanks for keeping up with my movements.