Friday, June 20, 2008


A New Guitar, a Record, & Pizza.

Hello, folks. I hope you're all doing well. It's been awhile. Sorry for that. Anyway, let's get right to it. Here is MY SECOND 'BROOKLYN ORIGINAL' COLUMN!

About a month ago, I played my final show at The Baggot Inn. It's closed for good. Now, the Baggot Inn is the place that got me performing live again after many many years. My friend Kierstin Gray... a great songwriter and performer... started to do the open mic there on Monday nights. Inspired by her, I soon started doing it, too. That summer, we did the open mic almost every Monday night... from May till September... coercing our friends to do it, as well! (I think eventually everyone I knew at the time who played an instrument or sang got up on that stage at the open mic! Good shit. Hi, Ken!)

I tell ya, they were some of the best Monday nights of my life! Music, friends, booze, bitches, FUN! The Baggot's also the place that pretty much birthed the Motherjumpers; my former band. Little by little the fellas that would soon be known collectively as "The MJs" started sharing that open mic stage, eventually leading to me splitting my solo acoustic shows into half me alone, half me and them. Lotsa history in that place for me over the past 5 years... lotsa memories. I'm saddened to see it go. Such is life.

That night, after my gig (featuring a last-minute on-stage "reunion" of 4/5s of The MJs, and a special vocal appearance by Kierstin- if ya missed it, you should be sorry!) my guitar case fell over, snapping the neck of my acoustic guitar. Yikes! I closed the case and tried to deny it happened, choosing to focus on the nice night I was having with my friends saying farewell to the joint... and stealing beer mirrors for souvenirs. Anyway, this was the third neck-break for that guitar. All three breaks in the same spot. Balls. Last time, after the second snap, my guitar-guy who fixed it said it may not be fixable again. Not having another thousand bucks for a new guitar, which would also take who knows how long to find, I started to make a list in my head of people whose acoustic guitar I could borrow for my upcoming shows and recording. The list was short. What was I gonna do?!

Well, my brother Michael, aka Manzo, offered to put a new guitar on his credit card for me, and I could pay him back. Nice! Thanks, Manzo! (Let's not get into why I couldn't use my own credit card. Oof! Do the words "over the limit" mean anything to you guys? I'm sure lots of you... well, all two that are reading this... could relate.) So, we set out a week later in search of a new guitar. Landing at Guitar Center in Brooklyn, I found a really nice sounding Epiphone jumbo-body acoustic. It was a real steal at three hundred and fifty bucks, too! Sure, it's no substitute for my Gibson, but it sounds surprisingly great for a guitar in that price range, and it will do for now as I search and save up money for my dream gee-tar. So that's that.

As far as my record goes...

...we are still rehearsing for it. I hate rehearsing. I'm inpatient!
Me, Rich, and Manzo will be the basic band for five of the songs. Me, Rich, and Mr. Mike Rodainsky (formerly of Dead Air and Left Of Jupiter, as well as being the bassist at my birthday gig at Bar 4 back in February... if you were there you know he rocks!) will be the basic band for four songs, and the others will have me on bass... and even some drums. Jon Carrai is gonna supply some horns and keyboards.

Rich (who is going to engineer the record) and I have discussed different sounds for different songs. The mood and sound of each song will change according to the song. How fun! Rich's been boning up his studio with new equipment and we're gonna do some experimenting. I'm really looking forward to it! We seem to be on the same page as far as how to get things done, being up to trying stuff out, exploring... and that's a plus. New techniques will be utilized, and I'm sure this stuff's gonna sound great! I'm pretty excited to get it going (we start the second week of June). This will be the first time since nugget's second demo tape (circa 1995) where I'll be recording on analog tape (not counting two songs I did in late 1997 at Electric Plant Studios). I like analog tape.

It's also gonna be the first time I'll be playing any kind of lead guitar on stuff I'll be releasing for mass consumption! It's either gonna be really cool... or really shitty! Haha. But I'm looking forward to giving it a shot and seeing what happens. I think I'll do okay. We got 16 tracks to work with, and any limitations we face I'm sure will yield a crop of problem-solving ideas that may enhance the recording as a whole; "the Mother of invention" and all that, y'know? It's those little things, those mistakes and limitations and explorations, that give any record it's charm. It's rock'n'roll. Not sure when it'll all be done, how I'll release it, etc., etc., but when I know, you'll know.

And lastly, I have a new job.

Whereas I'd love to be able to play music professionally... or devote 100% of my time to it... not being in a band has kind of taken the wind out of my sails as far as being in the mindframe I was in the last few years with The MJs. Then, I was in a situation that I thought (and hoped) could go somewhere. It didn't. It's harder to get into that mode again being a solo act and all. It's limiting, and therefore I feel limited as far as what I can achieve right now. Maybe when my CD's done I'll feel differently, but right now my focus is on getting the recording under way, making the best album I could, playing some shows, and then taking things as they come once the record's done. My goals seem to be short-term right now, with opportunity to grow. Maybe that's how I should have been thinking the last few years. Who knows?
I will always be rockin' and I will always be making music one way or another. That's for fuckin' sure. That hasn't become a second priority at all, making music. Instead it has become a solace... a passion, even. Maybe before, when I felt it was "work". Because I was in the band and spent a lot of my time and efforts trying to secure some level of "success" with/for the group, I fear I may have missed out on some of the fun. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun (when it was fun), but I think I was more focused on "making it"... good or bad. I don't regret anything I've done before... I did my best, and I think I did pretty damned good... but it drained me. Now I'm playing alone, I don't have any CD to push or show I need tons of people to come to, so I'm just gonna make music and enjoy it. We'll see what happens after that.

Oh yeah, my new job. Sorry.

I am going to work for my cousins, who've just bought a pizzeria/restaurant in Woodbridge, New Jersey. Managing a pizza joint on Jersey! Can you get any more guinea than that?!? Ha! So I've left my gig at the Blue Note (it was a cool year working in the Village at that world-renown spot; meeting interesting people, meeting and getting to talk to great jazz musicians like Ron Carter! or Larry Carlton, getting to know all the folks on West 3rd and it's surrounding blocks). It was a no-place job, though. I felt like a true waste being there; wasting my time and energy doing something a monkey could do. Hey, I did it, it was good for a year, but I've been looking for an excuse (ie; some good money!) to make myself leave.

Next thing I know, a few months ago I get a call from my cousin Audrey. Her husband and her brother-in-law are buying this pizza place and while discussing someone to come be a manager for them, my name comes up. "Why?", was the first thing that came out of my mouth when she told me this. I mean, I have no experience managing a restaurant! But she explained to me that they want someone they can trust, they want someone who gets along with people and is friendly (really, I am... don't believe those rumors stating otherwise, you dick!), and someone smart. Throw in handsome and ya got me! Well, they got me anyway, handsome or not.

After a few days to think about it, I said yes.

It's not ideally what I wanna be doing, but I think it may be a good opportunity for me... mostly because I'm in alotta credit card debt and they're gonna pay me well! Ha! But seriously, as well as the good pay, the hours are good, I'll be working for and with family, Woodbridge is like 25 minutes from my house, and I'll get all the pizza I want! Fat bastard! Plus, I'll be a boss! Not a bad deal. (I always thought it'd be cool to have my own pizzeria! I've thought and talked about it here and there over the years, and now I'll get to learn about it from the inside! This one wont be mine, but I'll get to see if it's something that'd interest me. Think about it: "TL's Rock'N'Roll Pizzeria"! Has a nice ring to it, no?) I'm even looking forward to the responsibility. It'll be a nice change of pace after the semi-retarded position I've had for the last year. AND, I can still freelance because I'll have weekends and nights off. Niiiice.

New guitar, new job, soon a new record. Not bad, not bad.


And well, yes folks, that's what they call "a wrap". I hope you've enjoyed my sometimes-informative, sometimes-boring ramblings. I thank both of you for reading, and I encourage you to share your thoughts on the B.O. bulletin board as well as check out the other great Brooklyn folk featured on the B.O. page. Feel free to drop me a line at Topless pictures are welcomed.

This is me promising you it wont be another 4 months till the next column.

Smile up.



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Jason 34 said...

Dude it all sound good. I wish you the best of Luck with the New demo. I always thought of you as a very good songwriter and performer and really like the music that you make, so I can't wait to hear what you and Rich do together